Science and Religion

The following are quotes from a column from USAToday titled:  Science and religion aren’t friends (www.usatoday.com/cleanprint/?1286810821171) by Jerry A. Coyne, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago:

Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible.  They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth.  And while they may have a dialogue, it’s not a constructive one.  Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science.

Does religion work?  It brings some of us solace, impels some to do good (and others to fly planes into buildings), and buttresses the same moral truths embraced by atheists, but does it help us better understand our world or our universe?  Hardly.  . . .

And any progress–not just scientific progress– is easier when we’re not yoked to religious dogma.  Of course, using reason and evidence won’t magically make us all agree, but how much clearer our spectacles would be without the fog of superstition! 

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2 Responses to Science and Religion

  1. dor says:

    I would argue that science may find facts, but spirit is what helps us find truth. Religion should not be used in place of science but neither should it be dismissed altogether. Spirit helps us to to live our lives with and among others. It is what helps us accept and even grow from the chaos of the cosmos.
    When religion becomes a threat to the pursuit of reason, then it is right and indeed just for science to push back. The reverse is not true, though. Who is to say that there is not divinity at work when science pushes us to move beyond the mythology, beyond the dogma, to find that which is deeper and more universal? Resistance towards knowing – from whatever direction or dysfunction – is what we should be on guard against.

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    Checks are also required on some forms of science. As an example, here is Sean Means summary of the documentary “Project Nim”:

    “The project began in 1975, the brainchild of Columbia University behavioral psychologist Herbert Terrace. The goal was to study whether chimps could learn language, something the linguist Noam Chomsky theorized was impossible.

    Terrace procured a baby chimp — taken literally from his mother’s arms at a primate research facility in Oklahoma — and named him Nim Chimpsky (a joke aimed at Chomsky). He cajoled Stephanie Lafarge, his former graduate student (and ex-lover), to raise Nim in the brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that she shared with her husband and their children. The living arrangement was unorthodox, and the scientific methods lax.

    Eventually, Nim passed through many hands — from Terrace’s classroom back to the Oklahoma facility and eventually to a medical-research lab in upstate New York. Along the way, he was treated with aloofness from Terrace, while receiving well-meaning but sometimes clueless care by others. The only primate who comes out as sympathetic is the chimp.”

    Whether this is provided by religion, secular organizations, or individuals, there are numerous areas where science needs some spiritual and/or ethical grounding.

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