I'm with you +John Atti
in your sentiment that using science Sunday as a podium to comment on religion is kind of not the point.
But if I wanted to know whether +Trev Warth
intended to do that when he posted this or whether Aaron Freeman intended an anti-religious sentiment when he wrote the above piece, I would need to ask Trev and Aaron wouldn't I?
Any interpretation about its religious significance or anti-religious sentiment appears to be within the perception of the reader.
Which part specifically is it that you found to be a "prejudiced conclusion" that obviously rubbed you the wrong way?
I would guess it is the part where it mentions faith, but I think it is a matter of the readers perception and interpretation. One could interpret this as meaning that the author was referring explicity or implicitly to religious faith or you could interpret this as saying that, in regards to these physical and scientific truths that have been described you do not need to have faith (see definition 2 below) in regards to them.
I honestly don't know what the author intended. Maybe there was intent to make some value judgement about religious faith, or maybe the intent was simply to say that when it comes to proving the scientifically verifiable aspects of life and death, faith (of any kind) is not required.
I think one can make the statement "Faith is not required when attempting to validate the scientific validity of a hypothesis" without making a value judgement about religious faith specifically.
Interesting indeed is the 2nd definition for faith found here and the example of the word used in context:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith
"2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact."
I certainly don't think this piece would stifle discovery or curiosity about science! In fact it could inspire some very interesting classroom discussions regarding how you might measure or quantify the total mass, energy and constitution of your physical body, leaving of course any value judgements about religious faith completely out of the discussion.
Personally I plan to keep this piece handy as inspiration for some scientific discussions with my kids someday. When it comes to the death of a spider, or a rabbit, or the family dog, or a person I could see this serving as inspiration for some thought provoking scientific questions!
That doesn't mean I'm going to break this out when grandma passes on and say "Relax kids, grandma was really just a bunch of atoms and energy".
Whew, now I'm thinking about the enormity of dealing with those moments when they do come (I have three young kids). And you know it makes me really grateful to be participitating in this discussion and to have something so thought provoking (on so many levels) being brought to my attention.
In my view one can seperate contemplating the physical and scientific aspects of death from comtemplating the spiritual aspects of it. But it doesn't mean it's going to be easy...