3/24/2017

Science and Religion

Meeting Agreement Under Absolutes

Any scientist will tell you that science is the study of the real universe in attempt to understand how it works, to discover the facts, and to uncover absolute truth. In contrast, a theologian will state that this truth is known, and theology works to fit the universe into this truth. These are coming from opposite ends, and must meet at the same point somewhere in the middle.

The Fallacy of Relativism

Many disagree, stating that “truth” is relative. One person may believe one thing, and another person a seemingly opposite thing, but both points of view are equally valid. Relativism goes so far to assert that there is no absolute truth.

Right off, there is a problem. This statement immediately disproves itself. Its assertion must be absolutely true, or else it's false. In other words, if it's only true some of the time, then it's false some of the time, and therefore it's absolutely false! There is absolute truth.

You are entitled to your opinion, of course (or I wouldn't be writing this). But if you ignore reality and choose to believe something contrary, you are in for some trouble. This is a fact of life we learn during childhood, but today many adults seem to forget this! Gravity exists whether you believe in it or not. There were many people who are no longer with us who “believed” they could fly.

That may seem harsh, but the fallacy of relativism is actually dangerous. Falsehoods presented as “alternative truth” cause confusion and lead to destructive results. Look at history, and you will find many dead civilizations that fell apart shortly after embracing a culture of extreme tolerance.

The Danger of Knowing It All

History is also littered with examples of one institution suppressing the others' “heresy” or “intolerance.” Galileo was persecuted for suggesting that the earth orbited the sun. On the other hand, social experiments that drift away from time-proven tradition have a habit of failing catastrophically.

One institution can think that it knows better than the other, only to lose face when the facts assert themselves. It's dangerous to be too closed to new ideas, as well as to be too open. There is a balance. In pursuit of the truth, we must be open to careful exploration.

Reconciliation

Since facts and truth are absolute, science and religion must ultimately agree. Religious claims must agree with proven scientific findings, while science must concede that it hasn't found everything yet. Even though dinosaurs are never mentioned in scripture, they were still there. Also, a “miracle” is simply technology that is beyond our understanding. A fully-advanced technology can theoretically do anything. We are far from there.

Be careful about dismissing religious scripture just because you don't understand it. Scripture is written for society, not science. Furthermore, any “scientific” references were written for a much simpler civilization with little (if any) understanding of the things we take for granted now. A creation account will not go into the details of astrophysics, organic chemistry, and nuclear science! Even so, the cultural teachings of scripture are often well-ahead of our current understanding of social science.

Likewise, be careful about forcing science to fit into scripture. Remember that scripture was written to be easily understood, and most hard science has been vastly oversimplified, as it is usually unimportant to the message being conveyed. “Seven days” may be seven rotations of a galactic plane, for all we know, or some other aeonic period of time. It's not important in the context of the writing.

There is a saying, “The scientist climbed a mountain, only to find the theologian already sitting at the top.” God already has the facts and gave some of them to us. The scientific method was created so that we could better understand the nature of God's universe. Pursue knowledge then, but exercise wisdom in the pursuit.