DEAR PLANET, SCIENCE NEEDS CHRISTIANITY AND VICE VERSA

Hi Ian,

I see your posts about all these people who successfully brought their faith and their science together. That’s not where I am. I feel like in my college I have to choose between belief in faith and facts in science, like getting converted to one or the other?  If not how do I them, like making peace between dogs and cats? JUst a little question I know, something impossible for you to do before breakfast.

Max

 

Dear Max, 

Big breakfast at the beach cafe and I can take on the impossible, Max. Here’s my take on the five ways that people see the connections or lack thereof. You will see where I come out.

SCIENCE NEEDS CHRISTIANITY AND VICE VERSA  : FIVE MODELS OF CONNECTION

Edited and added to from wikipedia:

The extent to which science and religion may attempt to understand and describe similar phenomena is sometimes referred to as a part of the demarcation problem.

Science and religion generally pursue knowledge of the universe using different methodologies. It is said that Science acknowledges reason and empirical evidence, while Religions include revelation, faith and sacredness. By this part of the workshop you can also say that Science proceeds upon basic assumptions and frequent inspiration and Religion proceeds by reason, critique and evidence.

Despite these differences, most scientific and technical innovations prior to the Scientific revolution were achieved by societies organized by religious traditions. Much of the scientific method was pioneered first by Islamic scholars, and later by Christians. Hinduism has historically embraced reason and empiricism, holding that science brings legitimate, but incomplete knowledge of the world. Confucian thought has held different views of science over time. Most Buddhists today view science as complementary to their beliefs.

Events in Europe such as the Galileo affair (above), associated with the Scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, led scholars such as John William Draper to postulate a conflict thesis, holding that religion and science conflict methodologically, factually and politically. This thesis is advanced by contemporary scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg and Carl Sagan, and proposed by many creationists. While the conflict thesis remains popular for the public, it has lost favor among most contemporary historians of science. Most historians today have moved away from a conflict model, which is based mainly on two historical episodes (Galileo and Darwin) for a “complexity” model, because religious figures were on both sides of each dispute and there was no overall aim by any party involved in discrediting religion.

Many theologians, philosophers and scientists in history have found no conflict between their faith and science. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould, other scientists, and some contemporary theologians hold that religion and science are non-overlapping magisteria, addressing fundamentally separate forms of knowledge and aspects of life. Scientists Francisco Ayala, Kenneth R. Miller and Francis Collins see no necessary conflict between religion and science. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued that there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, but that there is deep conflict between science and naturalism, in other words an internal philosophical debate that science itself must address. Some theologians or historians of science, including John Lennox, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and Ken Wilber propose an interconnection between them.

Public acceptance of scientific facts may be influenced by religion; many in the United States reject the idea of evolution by natural selection, especially regarding human beings. Since this is not driven by any need within theology, it must be motivated by some other source of anti-science thinking. Nevertheless, the American National Academy of Sciences has written that “the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith,” a view officially endorsed by many religious denominations globally.

IN SUMMARY, I quote Haught, John F. (1995). Science and Religion : From Conflict to Conversation. Paulist Prees. p. 9. ISBN 0809136066.

“…there are at least four distinct ways in which science and religion can be related to each other:

1) Conflict — the conviction that science and religion are fundamentally irreconcilable;

2) Contrast — the claim that there can be no genuine conflict since religion and science are each responding to radically different questions;

3) Contact — an approach that looks for dialogue, interaction and possible “consonance” between science and religion, and especially for ways in which science shapes religious and theological understanding.

4) Confirmation — a somewhat quieter but extremely important perspective that highlights the ways in which, at a very deep level, religion supports and nourishes the entire scientific enterprise.”

Those four views are pretty standard now. We may now add a fifth way that they might inter-connect. It is more down to earth, and I believe presents a confident rethink:

5) Collaboration – in the area of the application of benefit to the widest possible need.

DISCUSS: What are today’s particular pressing needs? ? E.g. Population growth and food production., e.g. Malaria, Water shortages, Politics of climate change.

Christianity has so shaped western culture and science in particular, that its contributions are routinely taken for granted as the inevitable norm or the fruit of reason. A brief glance at non-Christian civilizations will find scientists who are just as brilliant and rational but we also find that science as an enterprise there has been reserved for the rich and powerful. The Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi has observed …

Yet India, like Egypt, had “a standstill, a stillbirth, as far as science was concerned.”91 It was not much different from ancient China,… The tendency to omit this connection, whether in education or in the public square, began in the eighteenth century,……words of Kepler: “I am earnest about Faith, and I do not play with it.”94 they were 180 degrees removed from the relativistic cliché of today’s post modernism that says, “What is true for you is not true for me.” To them, truth was one, and God was its Author.
-pg 244

DISCUSS:

· On the great challenges that humanity faces today, how does science tackle these AND how does religion tackle these questions?

· Reflect on this statement as an example. “We need scientists to do research and laboratory development to find a cure for malaria. But it will be the Christian who goes to live in the swamp for years to deliver the medicines. Going further, maybe it will be another type of Christian (scientist or activist) who will lobby for the funding in the first place, or another to make the unlucrative career choice and devote herself to the lifelong research.”

What do you think that statement says about how we combine faith and science in action strategies and thought?

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One thought on “DEAR PLANET, SCIENCE NEEDS CHRISTIANITY AND VICE VERSA

  1. While I don’t generally recognize a need for conflict between religion and science, I will challenge the claim made in this excerpt:

    “Public acceptance of scientific facts may be influenced by religion; many in the United States reject the idea of evolution by natural selection, especially regarding human beings. Since this is not driven by any need within theology, it must be motivated by some other source of anti-science thinking. Nevertheless, the American National Academy of Sciences has written that “the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith,” a view officially endorsed by many religious denominations globally.”

    The word “evolution” is a common shorthand for two different things: either the name for the ongoing phenomenon of the biosphere becoming over time what it is today, OR, the Darwinian Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, which is the one mainstream theory of how the phenomenon of evolution occurs. There are many commentators who don’t recognize the difference and subsequently conflate the two. This has happened in the excerpt above. The “natural” in Natural Selection refers to the worldview of naturalism, the philosophy that nature is entirely the outcome of blind unconscious forces, and has no “final causes”. There is no room in Evolution by (and only by) Natural Selection for a theistic creator acting everywhere and at all times. At a pinch, there may be room in Evolution by Natural Selection for a deistic creator (present at the beginning, but absent since), but this is not the deity acknowledged within Christianity.

    Nevertheless, there is no obvious incompatibility between theism and many other discipline areas of science, such as particle physics, cosmology, chemistry, alternative theories of evolution, etc.

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