Can Religion and Science Be Compatible?
There has been a veritable tsunami of contradictions regarding religion -v- science for the lifetimes of many people who have considered this question. . It is an old argument, but one that still prevails today.
Jerry Coyne works on several areas of evolutionary genetics, specifically the origin of our species. He is also a professor at the University of Chicago in ecology and evolution and the co-author of the book, Speciation.
Mr. Coyne has also written an article named "The Case Against Intelligent Design - The Faith that Dare Not Speak it's Name." This article is lengthy but well worth the read if the topic is in your interest.
He examines, an all too familiar argument of scientists and creationists arguing over whether or not high schools in Dover, Pennsylvania should learn about biological evolution.
The Scopes trial of our day — Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover Area School District et al — began innocuously. In the spring of 2004, the district's textbook review committee recommended that a new commercial text replace the outdated biology book.
At a school board meeting in June, William Buckingham, the chair of the board's curriculum committee, complained that the proposed replacement book was "laced with Darwinism." After challenging the audience to trace its roots back to a monkey, he suggested that a more suitable textbook would include biblical theories of creation.
When asked whether this might offend those of other faiths, Buckingham replied, "This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such"
Defending his views a week later, Buckingham reportedly pleaded: "Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can't someone take a stand for him?" And he added: "Nowhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state."
There was a bitter discourse that eventually was taken to court:
"Intelligent design," as I will show, is merely the latest incarnation of the biblical creationism espoused by William Jennings Bryan in Dayton.
Far from a respectable scientific alternative to evolution, it is a clever attempt to sneak religion, cloaked in the guise of science, into the public schools."
The PBS website, Evolution has also tackled the subjects of science and faith. The claim is that many people of various faiths are able to reconcile the theory of evolution, while still being faithful to their religious beliefs.
While that may be true, there is a flip side. Fundamentalists and evangelicals still vehemently stick to their literal interpretations of the Bible.
Several people have written that they have thoroughly studied both creation and evolution and find that both are forms of faith in that they assume events that occurred before the time of man. They both have an element of trust needed to believe that either are correct or incorrect.
It was a huge step for me and something that I had struggled with for many years. However, I still believe that science has many undiscovered secrets yet to be revealed and I look forward to any scientific revelations to come.
Arthur Peacocke is a physical biochemist and Anglican priest. He was noted for his pioneering research into the physical chemistry of DNA. He writes:
"I would like to point out that I don't think there is, first of all, a real contrast between religion and science in the sense of one being faith and the other being reason.
I think both can be reasonable. And it's interesting that in science, one often refers to the best explanation, and the best explanation then often involves postulating the existence of something you would never observe or ever could observe."
The Science and Religion web site has a paragraph that I read twice. It seemed to me, that if everyone thought that way - there would be no deadly religious conflicts, such as jihads and 'holy wars' between religions and the exhaustive question of science -v- religion.
"I cannot think of a better task than to unite religions with science and with each other; to bring religion into the sphere of modern thought; to demonstrate that Nature is slowly trying to reshape the human brain for a multi-dimensional future consciousness, and that we should co-operate with this process, not damage our brains by defying it."
A fundamental principle of the Bahá'í Faith is the harmony of religion and science. Bahá'í scripture asserts that true science and true religion can never be in conflict.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stated that religion without science is superstition and that science without religion is materialism. He also admonished that true religion must conform to the conclusions of science. [...]
The teachings state that whenever conflict arises between religion and science it is due to human error; either through misinterpretation of religious scriptures or the lack of a more complete understanding of science.
`Abdu'l-Bahá explained that religious teachings which are at variance with science should not be accepted; he explained that religion has to be reasonable since God endowed humankind with reason so that they can discover truth.
How do others stand on this question?
Edge - The Third Culture
by Jerry Coyne
Editor's Note: First published in The New Republic on August 22nd
Science and Faith
Bahá'í Faith and Science
The Third Culture
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