Religion is incompatible with science

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Some apologists argue that religion is incompatible with science, or specifically with evolution.

"Is it possible to believe in evolution and still be a Christian? If being a Christian means believing that the Bible is the authentic, trustworthy Word of God and that Christ is our Creator and Savior, the answer is “No.”[1]"
"The evolutionary lie is so pointedly antithetical to Christian truth that it would seem unthinkable for evangelical Christians to compromise with evolutionary science in any degree.[2]"

Contents

Religion and science are compatible

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"I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone."

Charles Darwin

Many theists accept mainstream science including evolution. Acceptance among US Catholics is 58% and for mainline US Protestants it is 51%.[3] Most of these people take scripture to be at least partly metaphor.

"No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life. In fact, the relatedness of all species through the mechanism of evolution is such a profound foundation for the understanding of all biology that it is difficult to imagine how one would study life without it."

Francis Collins, The Language of God
"If we look carefully at the issues about which we are talking, however, we can find that evolution and the Bible show amazing agreement on almost all issues and that one is not mutually exclusive of the other.[4]"
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In fact, science originated in attempts to authenticate ancient philosophical texts, as well as attempting to understand God by reading the "book of nature".

"We conclude that God is known first through Nature, and then again, more particularly, by doctrine; by Nature in His works, and by doctrine in His revealed word."

Galileo

Some versions of theism are incompatible

Some theists recognize that science is not incompatible with theism in general, but believe it is incompatible with their literalist interpretation of scripture.

"Evolution was not designed as a general attack against theism. It was designed as a specific attack against the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible is clearly revealed through the doctrine of creation.[5]"

The mainstream literal interpretation of the Bible claims certain things as facts; some of these alleged facts science considers impossible. These include inaccuracies in both the Bible and the Qur'an.

Acceptance of evolution is lowest among Jehovah's Witnesses (8%), Mormons (22%) and Evangelical Protestants (24%).[3]

Religion and science are complimentary

A likely follow up argument is that Christianity and science are harmonious and complementary. This is often done by quoting a selected few verses from the Bible that seem scientific (and thus claiming that Christians knew of the scientific fact before it was discovered) or saying that religion and science are not in conflict with each other (while pointing out a few instances when religion promoted science advancement).

"[...] science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

— Albert Einstein[6]

Bill Donohue, the President of the Catholic League, said "It was the Catholic Church that created the first universities, and it was the Catholic Church that played a central role in the Scientific Revolution."[5]

Counter Arguments

The claim that Christianity and science are complimentary towards each other are easily refuted by the slightest knowledge in history, or awareness in today's society.

  • Every religion that proposes supernatural causes for actual events.
  • The Roman Catholic Church's treatment of Copernicus and Galileo.
  • The opposition to Darwin's theory of evolution by fundamentalists among his contemporaries, and on down to modern times to promoting pseudoscience like intelligent design. This denial of science goes beyond biology, but also to geology, paleontology, and even astronomy that all point to an old earth.
  • The denial of global warming based on the belief that God will not flood the earth again.
  • Modern opposition to stem cell research by fundamentalists (mostly in the US).
  • And the opposition to neuroscientific evidence that points to the fact a soul does not exist.

As for Christianity occasionally promoting science, one must understand that often times various branches adapt to the growing knowledge of science. For example, at one point Christianity did not accept that the sun was the center of our galaxy. When the evidence was overwhelming, dogma had to change. In the same sense, many Christian churches (like the Roman Catholic Church) had to accept the theory of evolution. The claim that Christianity promoted naturalistic thinking at one point, while Christianity also suppressed certain scientific fields, does not point to the conclusion that Christianity and science go hand to hand. All it points to is that religion is very selective when it comes to promoting their dogma.

See also

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 [3]
  4. John Clayton, The Source, 1976
  5. Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 188-89.
  6. [4]
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