Bridging the Science-Religion Divide

Is there “a philo­soph­i­cal incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty between reli­gion and sci­ence. Does the empir­i­cal nature of sci­ence con­tra­dict the rev­e­la­to­ry nature of faith? Are the gaps between them so great that the two insti­tu­tions must be con­sid­ered essen­tial­ly antag­o­nis­tic?” These were the ques­tions raised by Jer­ry Coyne, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, in a long and meaty book review (“See­ing and Believ­ing”) appear­ing in The New Repub­lic. Over at the, a num­ber of sci­en­tif­ic thinkers, who reg­u­lar­ly engage with these essen­tial ques­tions, have offered their own thoughts on the mat­ter. You’ll find short pieces by Stephen Pinker, Daniel Den­nett, Sam Har­ris, George Dyson and oth­ers. This one pas­sage by Karl Giber­son par­tic­u­lar­ly struck me (though it’s not exact­ly a reflec­tion of my world­view):

Empir­i­cal sci­ence does indeed trump revealed truth about the world as Galileo and Dar­win showed only too clear­ly. But empir­i­cal sci­ence also trumps oth­er empir­i­cal sci­ence. Ein­stein’s dethrone­ment of New­ton was not the whole­sale under­min­ing of the sci­en­tif­ic enter­prise, even though it showed that sci­ence was clear­ly in error. It was, rather, a glo­ri­ous and appro­pri­ate­ly cel­e­brat­ed advance for sci­ence, albeit one not under­stood by most peo­ple. Why is this dif­fer­ent than mod­ern the­ol­o­gy’s near uni­ver­sal rejec­tion of the tyran­ni­cal anthro­po­mor­phic deity of the Old Tes­ta­ment, so elo­quent­ly skew­ered by Dawkins? How is it that “sci­ence” is allowed to toss its his­tor­i­cal bag­gage over­board when its best informed lead­ers decide to do so, even though the ideas con­tin­ue to cir­cu­late on main street, but reli­gion must for­ev­er be defined by the ancient bag­gage car­ried by its least informed?

The world dis­closed by sci­ence is rich and mar­velous, but most peo­ple think there is more to it. Our reli­gious tra­di­tions embody our fit­ful and imper­fect reflec­tions on this mys­te­ri­ous and tran­scen­dent intuition—an intu­ition that, as artic­u­lat­ed by some of our most pro­found thinkers, seeks an under­stand­ing of the world that is goes beyond the empir­i­cal.

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  • David Hockey says:

    Reli­gion looks back­wards. Its expla­na­tions are based upon what peo­ple ages ago thought. If this infor­ma­tion was God-giv­en, then what is the basis for chang­ing it? (If it was not God-giv­en, then any change is, sure­ly, OK.)

    Sci­ence looks for­ward. Its under­stand­ings are based upon obser­va­tions. Mod­ern instru­men­ta­tion and increased math­e­mat­i­cal abil­i­ties inevitable uncov­er more accu­rate infor­ma­tion and bet­ter expla­na­tions become pos­si­ble. Thus it is ratio­nal to update sci­ence.

    Reli­gion and sci­ence can be uni­fied, if errors are recog­nised and over­come. (I attempt some of this in my book, see

  • socratus says:

    Sci­ence and reli­gion in tan­dem can become a great force
    to lib­er­ate the mind and help the humans to a fuller and bet­ter
    under­stand­ing of real­i­ty.
    / Sikh Reli­gion and Sci­ence
    by G. S. Sid­hu M.A; FIL (Lon­don) /
    === .
    Why every reli­gion wants sup­port from sci­ence ?

  • socratus says:

    The God spoke in the dark­ness: “Let there be light !”
    .… .…
    And the God said in the dark­ness:
    Let there be light: and there was light.
    So, we must exam­ine three con­cep­tions: God, dark­ness and light.
    In the dark­ness it means in the space­time of dark mass/ ener­gy.
    The space­time of dark mass/ ener­gy it means in the Vac­u­um.
    The Vac­u­um is the Infinite/ Eter­nal Homo­ge­neous Space
    of the low­est ( the back­ground ) lev­el of Ener­gy: E= 0.
    The Vac­u­um is the Infinite/ Eter­nal Homo­ge­neous Space
    of the low­est ( the back­ground ) lev­el of tem­per­a­ture: T= 0K.
    The God is hid­den into the Infinite/ Eter­nal Homo­ge­neous
    Ener­gy Space and we don’t know that to say about Him/ Her/ It.
    But we know, that accord­ing to Quan­tum Physics a vir­tu­al
    ener­getic par­ti­cles can exist in this Infinite/ Eter­nal
    Homo­ge­neous Ener­gy Space.
    So, we can sup­pose that, maybe, from these vir­tu­al ener­getic
    par­ti­cles the God cre­at­ed light/ quan­tum of light.
    So, in the begin­ning God cre­at­ed the Light.
    How did He do it?
    The Bible explain us that the God cre­at­ed the light very easy.
    God sim­ply said: ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’
    And for many years every­body adopt­ed this con­vinc­ing proof
    with­out any doubt.
    Only poor Ein­stein had doubts. He wrote sad­ly :
    ‘ All these fifty years of con­scious brood­ing have brought me
    no near­er to the answer to the ques­tion, ‘What are light quan­ta?’
    Nowa­days every Tom, Dick and Har­ry thinks he knows it,
    but he is mis­tak­en. ‘
    But Tom, Dick and Har­ry laughed.
    ‘What can­not the old Jew under­stand?’ they said bewil­der.
    ‘ Isn’t clear that quan­tum of light is a sim­ply wave-par­ti­cle,
    of course, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ?’
    .… .
    And now one part of mankind ( Reli­gious part ) believes that
    God cre­at­ed the light in very easy way.
    And the oth­er part of mankind ( Sci­en­tif­ic part ) believes that
    the light is the quan­tum of light which sim­ply has his own
    wave-par­ti­cle abil­i­ties, of course, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.

    These two great Mys­ti­cal beliefs gov­ern on the plan­et Earth
    with­out under­stand each oth­er. This is sit­u­a­tion that we have now.
    Best wish­es.
    Israel Sadovnik Socra­tus

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