I noticed an invitation to an annual convention of scholars in Washington, D.C. in September of this year. The subject if the convention, whish is the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, is “The Relationship Between Religion and Science”. It sounds like an interesting topic for discussion and debate. But, I have a question.
What sort of relationship is there or can there be between religion and science? These are very different areas of human endeavor. One is epistemological while the other is considered to be intuitive or instinctual.
Is the relationship one of tolerance? Is it based on peaceful co-existence or is the relationship more like that of two people in a strained marriage in which there exists only a tenuous and tense co-existence?
Our present society seems to be enamored of technology, but that is only one small corner of scientific exploration. Science itself is more of an approach to the exploration of the world and the universe that surrounds us. Science requires that we approach any exploration and experimentation with an open mind.
Religion tends to be doctrinally predisposed to already established beliefs about the relationship between the Deity and the natural world. G_d is sui generis, the one that creates. Science can not assume anything; religion does.
How can the two co-exist? Or, can they?
It would seem that a religious person could not approach the universe epistemologically. However, there are mathematicians and physicists that are religious. Some of them that I know are very religious. Do they somehow divorce their faith from their scientific research? Do they suspend their disbelief or skepticism when they worship within their various faith groups?
As a religious person, I believe that we cannot separate our faith from the other aspects of our lives. I also believe that all learning comes from G_d. What we discover in the lab is not necessarily antithetical to the Deity.
For the religious person, this requires that there is an understanding that the various Scriptures, whether it is the Tanakh, the Bible, the Koran, the Zohar, the Bahgivad Ghita or any of the other foundational religious writings are not intended to be scientific treatises. Religions tell us the “who” of the natural world, not the “how” of its workings.
With that in mind, religion and science can not only co-exist, but live together harmoniously.
But, what do you think?