This debate has gone on long enough. And I have no plans on ending it. As usual, I’ll just shed my own thoughts on the topic. Ultimately, it all boils down to the fact that I could never understand why religion was so against science.
This week, our great Pope had the following to say:
“In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it’s more important than ever to educate our contemporaries’ consciences so that science does not become the criteria for goodness,” he told scientists.
Scientific investigation should be accompanied by “research into anthropology, philosophy and theology” to give insight into “man’s own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going,” the Pope said.
Honestly, I actually agree with what he said above. However, based on his past stances on science, including his speech 19 years ago in which he claimed he would have been in favor of the church’s imprisonment of Galileo for committing heresy, I somehow think that this is a sugar-coated rendition of what the good Pope actually believes.
So where does all this hatred of science come from? The problem religion “thinks” it has with science is not science itself, but the fact that most science is fuel for atheists (religious zealots in their own right) to wage war on God. I don’t believe that science itself could ever be anti-God. This is because there are only two possible faiths you might have on this topic.
The first, God is a part of this reality, this environment, this nature. If this is your faith, then one day science should find God. It will ultimately prove that he exists, so it is actually on the side of religion. Science is on a mission to find the truth. And if God is the truth, then science will find him. This is similar to what I believe.
The second possible truth is that God exists outside of nature, so science can never find him. If this is your belief, then what do you have to fear? Let science do all the research and propagandizing that it wants, it will never find God and you know that is the case. I just spent the weekend with a cousin who believes this. I realized early on, that there was no point arguing science with her. In order for science to play any role in the discussion, science has to be able to observe God. Her belief that God exists outside of nature negates that possibility. And ultimately, that was the end of that debate.
Any argument that attacks the premise of faith is doomed to fail. That’s the nature of faith. So in either case, there is no real threat that science poses for religion.
If you believe as I do, that science will clarify religion, then you might see where some of the concern comes from. Science might actually prove that the Earth is more than a few thousand years old, that the sun does not orbit the earth, or that maybe we actually do share a common ancestor with primates. Not any one of these statements can remove the ultimate foundation of religion. Science is just giving a more thorough and fact based interpretation of the events that were described by the original authors a few thousand years ago.
What science really attacks is the Church. The Church has already professed that they know the truth. And while that may be true for the faith-based aspect of their religion, I don’t see why the Church has to make that kind of claim for the science-based doctrines. What is the harm to Christianity if God really took “eons” to create the world, or if he really did create us through his process of evolution, or any one of his other miracles are his control and utilization of completely natural phenomena. Doesn’t the fact that he can control nature show his power? Does he have to defy it as well?
As humans, we need some aspect of supernaturality in our Gods. We have to describe them in such terms that we are unable to comprehend. This puts them outside of the realm of science. In this way, we can attribute such profound qualities as “Father”, “Forginess”, “Love”, “Salvation” on him without any real justification. Since science can not touch him, no justification could possibly be given, therefore it is not needed.
The sad thing is that if God does exist within nature, and science is able to define him in some form, there will always be a group that defies it because to bring God within our own understanding would be destructive to their religious needs and desires. Even if science proved that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, it would be as if he lost much of his aura and power just because it was human science that proved him to be who religion said he is.