Scientists, Face It! Science And Religion Are Incompatible | The Scientist Magazine®
The reason why science and religion are actually incompatible is that, who say that they are not religious but in a “relationship with God.”. Over the past several months I've become increasingly interested in a new topic: the reconciliation of science and religion. I'm hoping to use this blog as a tool. Why do many people believe that religion and science are not compatible? . The Book of Mormon can help you build a relationship with God. Have a free copy.
True religion is good. False religion is not. Before anyone accuses me of being insensitive for suggesting certain religions may be better than others, let me point out that the same is true of science. Good science is dependent upon good methods, good data, and the ability to make rational conclusions. Anyone would call that bad science — and the first to condemn such practices would be good scientists.
The purpose of the scientific method is to yield true and accurate results. Religion also seeks truth, although by different means. And so it is reasonable to say that religion can be good or bad depending on how well it leads its adherents to the truth.
In this case there should be no incompatibility. So what do I mean when I say people expect too much of science or too little of religion? But there are certain very big and very important questions that science simply is not equipped to answer. What is the purpose of my life? What happens if anything when we die? Why is there evil in the world? Where do concepts such as good and evil, justice, mercy, love, and beauty come from? And, of course the big one as far as the Creation debate is concerned: Why is there something rather than nothing?
One thing that has never set well with me, however, is its depiction of a human future devoid of religion. Even when religion is introduced, as we see in Deep Space 9, the supposed gods always turn out to be super-powerful alien beings.
This lack of religion is no surprise given the fact that the series creator thought that mankind would be better off without it. Material poverty has been abolished. Most diseases have been eradicated.
Eugenie Scott has written that the "science and religion" movement is, overall, composed mainly of theists who have a healthy respect for science and may be beneficial to the public understanding of science. She contends that the "Christian scholarship" movement is not a problem for science, but that the "Theistic science" movement, which proposes abandoning methodological materialism, does cause problems in understanding of the nature of science.
This annual series continues and has included William JamesJohn DeweyCarl Sagan, and many other professors from various fields. Science, Religion, and Naturalism, heavily contests the linkage of naturalism with science, as conceived by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and like-minded thinkers; while Daniel Dennett thinks that Plantinga stretches science to an unacceptable extent.
Barrettby contrast, reviews the same book and writes that "those most needing to hear Plantinga's message may fail to give it a fair hearing for rhetorical rather than analytical reasons.
Scientific and theological perspectives often coexist peacefully. Christians and some non-Christian religions have historically integrated well with scientific ideas, as in the ancient Egyptian technological mastery applied to monotheistic ends, the flourishing of logic and mathematics under Hinduism and Buddhismand the scientific advances made by Muslim scholars during the Ottoman empire. Even many 19th-century Christian communities welcomed scientists who claimed that science was not at all concerned with discovering the ultimate nature of reality.
Scientists, Face It! Science And Religion Are Incompatible
Principethe Johns Hopkins University Drew Professor of the Humanities, from a historical perspective this points out that much of the current-day clashes occur between limited extremists—both religious and scientistic fundamentalists—over a very few topics, and that the movement of ideas back and forth between scientific and theological thought has been more usual. He also admonished that true religion must conform to the conclusions of science.
Buddhism and science Buddhism and science have been regarded as compatible by numerous authors. For example, Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of nature an activity referred to as Dhamma-Vicaya in the Pali Canon —the principal object of study being oneself. Buddhism and science both show a strong emphasis on causality. However, Buddhism doesn't focus on materialism. In his book The Universe in a Single Atom he wrote, "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science, so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation.
Christianity and science Science and Religion are portrayed to be in harmony in the Tiffany window Education Francis Collins, a scientist who happens to be a Christian, is the current director of the National Institutes of Health. Among early Christian teachers, Tertullian c. These ideas were significantly countered by later findings of universal patterns of biological cooperation. According to John Habgoodall man really knows here is that the universe seems to be a mix of good and evilbeauty and painand that suffering may somehow be part of the process of creation.
Habgood holds that Christians should not be surprised that suffering may be used creatively by Godgiven their faith in the symbol of the Cross. The "Handmaiden" tradition, which saw secular studies of the universe as a very important and helpful part of arriving at a better understanding of scripture, was adopted throughout Christian history from early on.
Heilbron Alistair Cameron CrombieDavid Lindberg Edward GrantThomas Goldstein,  and Ted Davis have reviewed the popular notion that medieval Christianity was a negative influence in the development of civilization and science.
In their views, not only did the monks save and cultivate the remnants of ancient civilization during the barbarian invasions, but the medieval church promoted learning and science through its sponsorship of many universities which, under its leadership, grew rapidly in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Church's "model theologian", not only argued that reason is in harmony with faith, he even recognized that reason can contribute to understanding revelation, and so encouraged intellectual development. He was not unlike other medieval theologians who sought out reason in the effort to defend his faith.
Lindberg states that the widespread popular belief that the Middle Ages was a time of ignorance and superstition due to the Christian church is a "caricature".
According to Lindberg, while there are some portions of the classical tradition which suggest this view, these were exceptional cases.
It was common to tolerate and encourage critical thinking about the nature of the world. The relation between Christianity and science is complex and cannot be simplified to either harmony or conflict, according to Lindberg. There was no warfare between science and the church. A degree of concord between science and religion can be seen in religious belief and empirical science.
The belief that God created the world and therefore humans, can lead to the view that he arranged for humans to know the world. This is underwritten by the doctrine of imago dei. In the words of Thomas Aquinas"Since human beings are said to be in the image of God in virtue of their having a nature that includes an intellect, such a nature is most in the image of God in virtue of being most able to imitate God".
As science advanced, acceptance of a literal version of the Bible became "increasingly untenable" and some in that period presented ways of interpreting scripture according to its spirit on its authority and truth. Related to the doctrine of creation are views on divine action.Are Science and Religion Incompatible?
Theologians commonly draw a distinction between general and special divine action. Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted definition of these two concepts in the fields of theology or science and religion. One way to distinguish them Wildman Drawing this distinction allows for creatures to be autonomous and indicates that God does not micromanage every detail of creation. Still, the distinction is not always clear-cut, as some phenomena are difficult to classify as either general or special divine action.
Alston makes a related distinction between direct and indirect divine acts. God brings about direct acts without the use of natural causes, whereas indirect acts are achieved through natural causes. Using this distinction, there are four possible kinds of actions that God could do: God could not act in the world at all, God could act only directly, God could act only indirectly, or God could act both directly and indirectly.
In the science and religion literature, there are two central questions on creation and divine action. To what extent are the Christian doctrine of creation and traditional views of divine action compatible with science? How can these concepts be understood within a scientific context, e.
Note that the doctrine of creation says nothing about the age of the Earth, nor that it specifies a mode of creation. This allows for a wide range of possible views within science and religion, of which Young Earth Creationism is but one that is consistent with scripture.
The theory seems to support creatio ex nihilo as it specifies that the universe originated from an extremely hot and dense state around The net result of scientific findings since the seventeenth century has been that God was increasingly pushed into the margins.
This encroachment of science on the territory of religion happened in two ways: While the doctrine of creation does not contain details of the mode and timing of creation, the Bible was regarded as authoritative.
Second, the emerging concept of scientific laws in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century physics seemed to leave no room for special divine action. These two challenges will be discussed below, along with proposed solutions in the contemporary science and religion literature. Christian authors have traditionally used the Bible as a source of historical information. Biblical exegesis of the creation narratives, especially Genesis 1 and 2 and some other scattered passages, such as in the Book of Jobremains fraught with difficulties.
Are these texts to be interpreted in a historical, metaphorical, or poetic fashion, and what are we to make of the fact that the order of creation differs between these accounts Harris ? Although such literalist interpretations of the Biblical creation narratives were not uncommon, and are still used by Young Earth creationists today, theologians before Ussher already offered alternative, non-literalist readings of the biblical materials e. From the seventeenth century onward, the Christian doctrine of creation came under pressure from geology, with findings suggesting that the Earth was significantly older than BCE.
From the eighteenth century on, natural philosophers, such as de Maillet, Lamarck, Chambers, and Darwin, proposed transmutationist what would now be called evolutionary theories, which seem incompatible with scriptural interpretations of the special creation of species.
Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett have outlined a divine action spectrum to clarify the distinct positions about creation and divine action in the contemporary science and religion literature. They discern two dimensions in this spectrum: At one extreme are creationists.
Relationship between religion and science - Wikipedia
Like other theists, they believe God has created the world and its fundamental laws, and that God occasionally performs special divine actions miracles that intervene in the fabric of laws.
Creationists deny any role of natural selection in the origin of species. Within creationism, there are Old and Young Earth creationism, with the former accepting geology and rejecting evolutionary biology, and the latter rejecting both. Next to creationism is Intelligent Design, which affirms divine intervention in natural processes.
Intelligent Design creationists e. Like other creationists, they deny a significant role for natural selection in shaping organic complexity and they affirm an interventionist account of divine action. For political reasons they do not label their intelligent designer as God, as they hope to circumvent the constitutional separation of church and state in the US which prohibits teaching religious doctrines in public schools Forrest and Gross Theistic evolutionists hold a non-interventionist approach to divine action: God creates indirectly, through the laws of nature e.
For example, the theologian John Haught regards divine providence as self-giving love, and natural selection and other natural processes as manifestations of this love, as they foster autonomy and independence.
While theistic evolutionists allow for special divine action, particularly the miracle of the Incarnation in Christ e. God has laid out the laws of nature and lets it run like clockwork without further interference. Deism is still a long distance from ontological materialism, the idea that the material world is all there is. Views on divine action were influenced by developments in physics and their philosophical interpretation. In the seventeenth century, natural philosophers, such as Robert Boyle and John Wilkins, developed a mechanistic view of the world as governed by orderly and lawlike processes.
Laws, understood as immutable and stable, created difficulties for the concept of special divine action Pannenberg How could God act in a world that was determined by laws? One way to regard miracles and other forms of special divine action is to see them as actions that somehow suspend or ignore the laws of nature.
This concept of divine action is commonly labeled interventionist. Interventionism regards the world as causally deterministic, so God has to create room for special divine actions.
By contrast, non-interventionist forms of divine action e. In the seventeenth century, the explanation of the workings of nature in terms of elegant physical laws suggested the ingenuity of a divine designer. For example, Samuel Clarke cited in Schliesser Another conclusion that the new laws-based physics suggested was that the universe was able to run smoothly without requiring an intervening God.
The increasingly deterministic understanding of the universe, ruled by deterministic causal laws as, for example, outlined by Pierre-Simon Laplace —seemed to leave no room for special divine action, which is a key element of the traditional Christian doctrine of creation. Newton resisted interpretations like these in an addendum to the Principia in Alston argued, contra authors such as Polkinghornethat mechanistic, pre-twentieth century physics is compatible with divine action and divine free will.
In such a mechanistic world, every event is an indirect divine act. Advances in twentieth-century physics, including the theories of general and special relativity, chaos theory, and quantum theory, overturned the mechanical clockwork view of creation. In the latter half of the twentieth century, chaos theory and quantum physics have been explored as possible avenues to reinterpret divine action.
One difficulty with this model is that it moves from our knowledge of the world to assumptions about how the world is: Robert Russell proposed that God acts in quantum events. This would allow God to directly act in nature without having to contravene the laws of nature, and is therefore a non-interventionist model.
Since, under the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, there are no natural efficient causes at the quantum level, God is not reduced to a natural cause. Murphy outlined a similar bottom-up model where God acts in the space provided by quantum indeterminacy. After all, it is not even clear whether quantum theory would allow for free human action, let alone divine action, which we do not know much about Jaeger a.
Next to this, William Carrollbuilding on Thomistic philosophy, argues that authors such as Murphy and Polkinghorne are making a category mistake: God is not a cause in a way creatures are causes, competing with natural causes, and God does not need indeterminacy in order to act in the world.
Science and Religion are Not Compatible - Cosmic Variance : Cosmic Variance
Rather, as primary cause God supports and grounds secondary causes. While this solution is compatible with determinism indeed, on this view, the precise details of physics do not matter muchit blurs the distinction between general and special divine action. Moreover, the Incarnation suggests that the idea of God as a cause among natural causes is not an alien idea in theology, and that God at least sometimes acts as a natural cause Sollereder There has been a debate on the question to what extent randomness is a genuine feature of creation, and how divine action and chance interrelate.
Chance and stochasticity are important features of evolutionary theory the non-random retention of random variations. In a famous thought experiment, Gould imagined that we could rewind the tape of life back to the time of the Burgess Shale million years ago ; the chance we would end up with anything like the present-day life forms is vanishingly small. However, Simon Conway Morris has argued species very similar to the ones we know now including human-like intelligent species would evolve under a broad range of conditions.
Under a theist interpretation, randomness could either be a merely apparent aspect of creation, or a genuine feature. Plantinga suggests that randomness is a physicalist interpretation of the evidence.
God may have guided every mutation along the evolutionary process. In this way, God could guide the course of evolutionary history by causing the right mutations to arise at the right time and preserving the forms of life that lead to the results he intends.
Their challenge is to explain how divine providence is compatible with genuine randomness. Under a deistic view, one could simply say that God started the universe off and did not interfere with how it went, but that option is not open to the theist, and most authors in the field of science and religion are theists, rather than deists. Elizabeth Johnsonusing a Thomistic view of divine action, argues that divine providence and true randomness are compatible: God gives creatures true causal powers, thus making creation more excellent than if they lacked such powers, and random occurrences are also secondary causes; chance is a form of divine creativity that creates novelty, variety, and freedom.
One implication of this view is that God may be a risk taker—although, if God has a providential plan for possible outcomes, there is unpredictability but not risk.
Johnson uses metaphors of risk taking that, on the whole, leave the creator in a position of control creation, then, is like jazz improvisationbut it is, to her, a risk nonetheless.
Why would God take risks? There are several solutions to this question. The free will theodicy says that a creation that exhibits stochasticity can be truly free and autonomous: Authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation.
Such freedom is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution, and not by strings of divine direction attached to every living creature. According to Genesis, humans are the result of a special act of creation. Genesis 1 offers an account of the creation of the world in six days, with the creation of human beings on the sixth day.
Islam has a creation narrative similar to Genesis 2, with Adam being fashioned out of clay. These handcrafted humans are regarded as the ancestors of all living humans today. Humans occupy a privileged position in these creation accounts.
In Christianity, Judaism, and some strands of Islam, humans are created in the image of God imago Dei. There are at least three different ways in which image-bearing is understood Cortez According to the functionalist account, humans are in the image of God by virtue of things they do, such as having dominion over nature.
The structuralist account emphasizes characteristics that humans uniquely possess, such as reason. The relational interpretation sees the image as a special relationship between God and humanity. Humans also occupy a special place in creation as a result of the fall. By eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil they fell from this state, and death, manual labor, as well as pain in childbirth were introduced.
The Augustinian interpretation of original sin also emphasizes the distorting effects of sin on our reasoning capacities the so-called noetic effects of sin. As a result of sin, our original perceptual and reasoning capacities have been marred. Whereas Augustine believed that the prelapsarian state was one of perfection, Irenaeus second century saw Adam and Eve prior to the fall as innocent, like children still in development.
Scientific findings and theories relevant to human origins come from a range of disciplines, in particular geology, paleoanthropology the study of ancestral hominins, using fossils and other evidencearchaeology, and evolutionary biology. These findings challenge traditional religious accounts of humanity, including the special creation of humanity, the imago Dei, the historical Adam and Eve, and original sin.
In natural philosophy, the dethroning of humanity from its position as a specially created species predates Darwin and can already be found in early transmutationist publications. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed chimpanzees as the ancestors to humans in his Philosophie Zoologique He proposed that the first organisms arose through spontaneous generation, and that all subsequent organisms evolved from them. He argued that humans have a single evolutionary origin: Darwin was initially reluctant to publish on human origins.
In the twentieth century, paleoanthropologists debated whether humans separated from the other great apes at the time wrongly classified into the paraphyletic group Pongidae long ago, about 15 million years ago, or relatively recently, about 5 million years ago. Molecular clocks—first immune responses e. The discovery of many hominin fossils, including Ardipithecus ramidus 4. These finds are now also supplemented by detailed analysis of ancient DNA extracted from fossil remains, bringing to light a previously unknown species of hominin the Denisovans who lived in Siberia up to about 40, years ago.
Taken together, this evidence indicates that humans did not evolve in a simple linear fashion, but that human evolution resembles an intricate branching tree with many dead ends, in line with the evolution of other species.
In the light of these scientific findings, contemporary science and religion authors have reconsidered the questions of human uniqueness and imago Dei, the Incarnation, and the historicity of original sin. Some authors have attempted to reinterpret human uniqueness as a number of species-specific cognitive and behavioral adaptations. For example, van Huyssteen considers the ability of humans to engage in cultural and symbolic behavior, which became prevalent in the Upper Paleolithic, as a key feature of uniquely human behavior.
Other theologians have opted to broaden the notion of imago Dei. Given what we know about the capacities for morality and reason in non-human animals, Celia Deane-Drummond and Oliver Putz reject an ontological distinction between humans and non-human animals, and argue for a reconceptualization of the imago Dei to include at least some nonhuman animals.
Joshua Moritz raises the question of whether extinct hominin species, such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo floresiensis, which co-existed with Homo sapiens for some part of prehistory, partook in the divine image. There is also discussion of how we can understand the Incarnation the belief that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate with the evidence we have of human evolution. For instance, Peacocke regarded Jesus as the point where humanity is perfect for the first time.
Teilhard de Chardin had a teleological, progressivist interpretation of evolution, according to which Christ is the progression and culmination of what evolution has been working toward even though the historical Jesus lived years ago.
According to Teilhard, evil is still horrible but no longer incomprehensible; it becomes a natural feature of creation—since God chose evolution as his mode of creation, evil arises as an inevitable byproduct. Deane-Drummondhowever, points out that this interpretation is problematic: Teilhard worked within a Spencerian progressivist model of evolution, and he was anthropocentric, seeing humanity as the culmination of evolution.
Current evolutionary theory has repudiated the Spencerian progressivist view, and adheres to a stricter Darwinian model. Deane-Drummond, who regards human morality as lying on a continuum with the social behavior of other animals, conceptualizes the fall as a mythical, rather than a historical event. She regards Christ as incarnate wisdom, situated in a theodrama that plays against the backdrop of an evolving creation.
As a human being, Christ is connected to the rest of creation, as we all are, through common descent. By saving us, he saves the whole of creation. Debates on the fall and the historical Adam have centered on how these narratives can be understood in the light of contemporary science.
On the face of it, limitations of our cognitive capacities can be naturalistically explained as a result of biological constraints, so there seems little explanatory gain to appeal to the narrative of the fall. Some have attempted to interpret the concepts of sin and fall in ways that are compatible with paleoanthropology.