S – Science and Faith (PBP week 37)

I’ve never understood the problem people of faith have with the theory of evolution.  Or with any other well established scientific principle for that matter, but evolution is what is in the news lately.

In my understanding, science and religion are not inherently in conflict.  They cannot be – they are operating in very different spheres of thought:  a scientific theory has to be disprovable, while a religious tenet, by its very nature, cannot be disproven.  A belief in miracles allows one to argue for anything without intellectual dishonesty.  This makes them impossible to compare. 

But more importantly, there is no reason for a conflict.  It is true that science and religion both attempt to describe the nature of the universe, but they do so by asking different questions.  To perhaps oversimplify: science tells us about “how” the world works, while religion is concerned with “why.”

I can understand why someone with a purely scientific mindset would see a conflict.  Looking at religion from the outside, it is easy to dismiss the complexities of belief.

But when religious people insist on denying scientific fact because it threatens their faith or contradicts their mythology, I believe they are severely underestimating their Gods and taking their myths far too literally.  We see this all the time with Christianity, with the furor over Creationism and Intelligent Design in the US, but it arises from time to time in paganism as well.

Myths are stories told by humans to illustrate the truths we’ve learned about the Gods.  The details may vary from telling to telling, but the truth behind them remains constant.  If I believe, for example, Prometheus created mankind, it matters little or nothing to me to me if he made us from whole cloth (or clay), or if he did it by tinkering with the DNA of some apes.  If I believe Helios is responsible for the sun rising and setting every day, that shouldn’t change because I know that it is the Earth that moves and not the sun.  I shouldn’t need to see a literal flaming chariot to be grateful to him for making life on this planet possible.

The ancients imagined clay and chariots because they knew sculptors and charioteers.  Moderns think in terms of DNA and spheres of flaming gas because we have microscopes and telescopes.  These are the human details that allow the myths to fit within our understanding.  The truths they illustrate remain unchanged.  To remain adamant about the human details is to limit the Gods abilities to what we can wrap our heads around.  This is doing Them a great disservice.

The more I know about the complexities of the universe, the more I see how miraculous and mysterious it truly is.  Scientific learning adds to my sense of awe and wonder.  It takes nothing away.

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3 thoughts on “S – Science and Faith (PBP week 37)

  1. Science and religion use to be very close and there were brilliant discoveries because of it in math, science, astrology, and philosophy.It's hard for me to imagine that someone who is involved in science, seeing the wonders of the world and universe, can't believe in a higher power.

  2. Thorn says:

    I believe the Evangelical Christian Geneticist, Francis Collins, said the more he looked into the workings of the human genome, the more he was in awe of God's creation. That pretty much sums it up for me – I just spell "Gods'" with the apostrophe at the end!

  3. I use to have a friend who was very much into Greek philosophy, and he was fascinated with how very closely religion and science worked "back in the day". He once told me "They made REAL scientific progress … then man created God and nothing has really happened for 2000 years" LOL.I find it hard to understand how an astronomer can peer into a nebula, observe planetary magnificence, and all the wonders of the soler system … and not be moved to believe a higher power.Seeing how science works in the human body (like DNA) and being able to understand what makes blue eyes vs. green, red hair instead of black, and SEEING the human programming … and still maintain that nothing had its hand in that.So … I'm right there with you! I'm not a religious fanatic, really I'm fairly conservative in my spirituality. But, watching my own daughter learn how to connect words into simple sentences is absolutely amazing! Even being there when she was born is an experience like no other … watching a HUMAN BEING brought into this world. Really, it's just phenominal!Anyhow … Great post! I always love reading what you write.P.S. How's Frank been doing? I tried calling him the other day but I must have an old number :(. Maybe you could send me your new number on a Facebook message?

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