Science vs Religion


Science and technology is about truth. The classical Christian religion also claims to be about truth. Postmodern thinking notwithstanding, there is only one truth. There is only one Reality, and we all live in it. Any statement about Reality that conforms to that one Reality is true, and any other statement about it is false to the extent that it fails to conform. Therefore there can only be one truth.

Science -- the very name ``science'' is derived from the Latin word meaning what can be known -- gives us specialized rules for determining what can be known about that one Reality. Unfortunately, the Reality we live in is bigger than the rules of science allow us to study, so there are some things we can only speculate about. Nevermind what the scientists say about those speculations, they are not science. The Goedel Theorem in mathematics is essentially a proof that science cannot logically prove (that is, discover by the scientific method or other rigorous means) everything that is true.

Being a Christian, I am more qualified to discuss what the classic Christian faith tells us about the same one Reality, than I might be concerning other religions. Much of it has little or nothing in common with the part of Reality that science speaks to. There is, however, some overlap, and the disagreements in this region of overlap give rise to interesting debates outside the scope of my discussion here. There is only one truth, so in any disagreement about Reality, one or both parties is simply wrong. That is a Thinker perspective. It is the truth.

One common response to this perennial disagreement is to deny any overlap. This perspective thus affirms both parties to be speaking only truth. The scientists like this argument when they can lay claim to the putative overlap region as lying in their exclusive domain, despite that it often tends to involve those unscientific claims that are really pure speculation. Some Christians prefer to lay claim to the putative overlap region as lying in their own (religious) domain, and thus deny the truth of the claims the scientists make about it.

One part of the overlap region has to do with ethical reasoning. This has long been the exclusive domain of the religions, but recent science has been looking into a physiological basis for human thought, implicitly arrogating to their own domain claims about ethics. Another large part of the overlap is concerned with prehistorical origins. Again, it started out as a religious exclusive, but in the last 150 years the scientists have invaded this territory, largely pushing the religious ideas out -- at least in their own opinion. Many religious experts in response have simply abandonned the territory.

Without commenting on the truth values being asserted here, it is important to see the Thinker/Feeler divide crystalizing over the dispute. Science requires a Thinker perspective to succeed; most of the religious institutions survive by affirmation, a Feeler value.

This is a recent distinction resulting mostly from the Feeler takeover of the churches. Science has always been a Thinker activity. As I hope to show in later chapters, classic Christianity was also somewhat more Thinker than Feeler, so there was no inherent conflict. This former compatibility is easily seen in the fact that modern science had its roots firmly planted in the church, as Pearcey & Thaxton show in The Soul of Science. There was no such thing as modern science apart from the Christian values -- truth values -- which drove it.

Now when the scientists invade a former religious colony and assert that what they say about it is true, they are being true to their personality type. Similarly, when the religionists abandon that territory leaving it to the scientific invaders, they also are being true to their respective personality type by affirming the scientists in their conquest.

What we have is one facet of C.P.Snow's Two Cultures. Although he did not see it in terms of a Thinker/Feeler divide, there is nonetheless a very clear and increasingly hardened division between the technologists on the one side, and the nontechnical domains (religion and the arts) on the other. Both parties are aware of the divide and both pay token homage dismay over it, but both sides continue to act in ways that solidify the division.

The Two Cultures coexist in one society with very little overlap. Mostly they look on the other side with disdain. Occasionally a turncoat or spy (like C.P.Snow himself) tries to cross over or build a bridge. A few people (like myself) tenuously straddle the boundary, not entirely fitting in either culture -- but we try! Mostly the two cultures refuse to have anything to do with each other.

Perhaps ``refuse'' is too strong a word. The scientists warily accept people of religious persuasion, provided that they leave their religion at home. They might even proudly point to such persons as Francis Collins, who has successfully done so. Similarly the churches eagerly invite the scientists to their meetings, again provided they leave their scientific thinking at home. They might even proudly point to such persons as Francis Collins, who has successfully done so.
 
 

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Rev. 2013 October 2

I could say more in this chapter, but I need some interaction to drive it...