More on Conflicts Between Science and Religion

by Allen Leigh, contributor

In a previous post, I discussed a basic reason why there are conflicts between science and religion: Scientists base their conclusions on hard data obtained from observations and tests. Religionists base their doctrine on faith. Scientists and religionists view our physical world differently and use different methods to establish their beliefs about the world. In this post, I discuss another reason for differences between science and religion.

The scriptures serve as our record of dealings between God and people. The scriptures tell “why” God gives particular commandments and information. The scriptures do not, in my opinion, tell “how” God performs his work, including miracles. Scientists, on the other hand, attempt to tell “how” the physical cosmos was created and “how” it operates today. Scientists do not attempt to give metaphysical reasons “why” the cosmos was created. Of course, some scientists will get into metaphysical viewpoints of the cosmos, but when they do this, they are acting as philosophers not scientists. This means that ideally science and religion are mutually exclusive and conflicts between the two can not occur. It also explains why some LDS General Authorities have said they focus on their mission of the spiritual growth of members, of helping members find Christ, and that they leave science to the scientists.

However, when religionists attempt to use the scriptures to explain “how” the physical cosmos was created and operates today, this mutual exclusivity no longer exists and conflicts between science and religion are bound to happen. In a later post, I will discuss why I think religionists are in error when they try to use the scriptures to explain the “how” of things.

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This entry was posted in bible, Mormon Mission Experiences, Philosophy, Religion, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to More on Conflicts Between Science and Religion

  1. notexceling says:

    You are grievously mistaken.
    Your basing your evidence on one religious doctrine. That like looking at a flightless bird (i.e Ostrich) and determining from that evidence alone that NO BIRDS CAN FLY.

    Have you read the Quran…..

    Quran 21.30-33
    *Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass (ratqan), then We clove them asunder (fataqna)? **And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
    ***And We have made great mountains like pegs in the earth lest it might be convulsed with them, ****and We have made in it wide ways that they may follow a right direction.
    *****And We have made the heaven a guarded canopy and (yet) they turn aside from its signs.
    ******And He it is Who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all (orbs) travel along swiftly in their celestial spheres.

    *. The Big bang is explained
    RATQAN has two distinct meanings. One meaning is ‘the coming together of something and the consequent infusion into a single entity’ and the second meaning is ‘from total darkness’. Both these meanings are significantly applicable.
    FATAQNA means to be ripped apart, explode, disunite or break.
    **. Evolution is explained
    All living things come from water.
    ***. Isostasy of mountains are explained
    ****. Tectonic plates are explained
    *****. Atmosphere or Van Allen’s belt is explained
    ******. Orbits of celestial entities are explained.

    Seven heavens
    71.15
    Do you not see how He created seven heavens in layers( tibaqan)?
    67.3
    He Who created the seven heavens in layers(tibaqan)…

    TIBAQAN means “layer, the appropriate cover or covering for something.”

    This ayat is talking about our seven layers of atmosphere.
    1. Troposphere
    2. Stratosphere
    3. Mesosphere
    4. Thermosphere
    5. Exosphere
    6. Ionosphere
    7. Magnetosphere

    Iron comes from space
    57.25
    And We also sent down iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind…

    Moon is not a light source of its own ( NOT as genesis suggests its own light, but reflected light)
    25:61
    Blessed is He Who made the constellations in the heavens and made therein a lamp (siraaj) and a reflective (noor) moon.

    SIRAAJ means a light source with its own production of light, NOOR means borrowed or reflected light.

    String theory
    51.7
    I swear by the heaven furnished with paths (alhubuki).

    ALHUBUKI comes from the verb HUBEKE, meaning to weave closely, to knit, to bind together.
    In other words the paths in heaven are woven.

    Gravity
    41:11
    Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke (Dukhanun) and said to it and to the earth, “Come willingly or unwillingly.” They both said, “We come willingly.”
    DUKHANUN means smoke but coming from a hot temperature, for example cosmic smoke.
    What this ayat translates to mean is when the heavens were still being created (I presume the atmosphere) he told them both to come together, even though they don’t want to, they must and do.

    Van Allen Belt
    21.32
    We made the sky a preserved and protected roof yet still they turn away from Our Signs.

    Seven stratas of Earth
    65.12
    It is Allah Who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number, the Command descending down through all of them, so that you might know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge.

    1. Lithosphere (water)
    2. Lithosphere (land)
    3. Asthenosphere
    4. Upper Mantle
    5. Inner Mantle
    6. Outer Core
    7. Inner Core

    Isostasy of Mountains
    78:6-7 Have We not made the earth as a bed and the mountains its pegs?

    Tectonic Plates and Van Allen’s belt or atmosphere
    86:11-12 [I swear] by Heaven which returns and the earth which splits (sadA).

    SADA means to crackling or splitting apart.

    OR DO YOU WANT PROOF OF GOD IN SIMPLE MATHEMATICS…. TRY DENYING

    (I can explain it using numerous different methodologies but I believe simplicity will help you see its strength….. This is an extremely summarised and simplified explanation)

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12……….…

    Our numerical system has potentially a never ending amount of numbers. The more you count, the more we can plus another one.

    But in truth……..

    Only one number does exist

    The number “1”

    E.g 1 + 1 + 1 = 3

    That is because “1” explains itself and every other number. In fact, every number is a repetition (more precisely a reproduction) of the number “1”.

    Not only does it explain every whole number but it also explains every type of number.
    For example a fraction or a decimal point is a “part of “1””.

    50% =
    1/2 =
    0.5 OF 1

    “1” is the core of our mathematical numeric system. This is also the reason why binary system (the language of computers) is so successful.

    What’s so special about “1” is it is also complete

    1 = 100%

    In maths, when something is complete It MUST have a bound and an end.
    In maths this is signified with brackets ( )

    ( <——bound, beginning

    ) -) = + ∞
    You will end up in eternal positive or heaven
    Respectively
    1 + (+<-) = – ∞
    Hell

    God 1 = ∞
    Created +
    Everything (+-)
    __________________

    Quote: “If an object tries to travel 186,000 miles per second, its mass becomes infinite, and so does the energy required to move it. For this reason, no normal object can travel as fast or faster than the speed of light.”

    So if something exceeds this limit (1) its mass becomes infinite.
    1 + (1) = ∞
    __________________

    Mathematics studies the (+ | – ) laws to understand the (1) value.

    Science studies the (1) value to understand the ( + | – ) laws.
    __________________

    Quantum Mechanics states for nothing to create something, laws must be in place for nothing to produce something.

    The equation covers this aspect quite easily….

    A law is something that governs its subjects. It is not an actual physical entity and can not be expressed as the value 1.
    It is however an addition which must preexist our mathematical restrictions, as quantum mechanics states.

    + ( + | – ) This is the equation of Quantum mechanics,

    And this (+|-) is what governing physics studies
    __________________

    Prisca Theologia

    +(+|-) Atheist, understand natural law exist and Quanta

    (1=∞) Pantheist, the universe is God

    (1= ∞) Buddha said, look within yourself (1) and find your personal (∞) nirvana.

    1 + (+|-) = ∞ Christianity,
    father 1 = ∞
    holy spirit +
    son (+|-)

    (holy spirit is the deliverer of the law, the son is earthly bound (+-) son

    Islam
    Surah 112
    Say he is one
    1
    on all whom depend +
    he begets not,
    nor is begotten
    (+|-)
    and none is like him ∞

    __________________

    Cantor actually coined the word “transfinite” in an attempt to distinguish the various levels of infinite numbers from an Absolute Infinity 100% ∞ , an incomprehensible concept beyond mathematics itself, which then Cantor effectively equated with God (he saw no contradiction between his mathematics and the traditional concept of God)

    I'm merely saying the same thing.
    It doesn't matter if you call this concept Allah, God, Absolute Infinite. Whats important to understand is that a concept beyond anything calculable (including all the potential infinities) does exist, as Cantor proclaimed

    No where did I surpass the laws of science or mathematics yet I have an answer to God?
    Can you top that

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    Hi Allen, For me personally, there is no conflict between science and my religion (but I’m not active in any religion, although I was raised Mormon). I agree that the OT is not a historical, archaeological, geological, etc. record. I don’t believe in talking asses, 7-day creations, wrestling with God, the earth standing still, etc. I’ve chucked the OT. Except for the book of Eccesiastes.

    For me, science is evolutionary, no human knowledge is perfect, but science is headed toward perfection. Religion should suggest how we should use our human knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, religion should put a heart in science. But so far, all religions are falling short. Institutions become too interested in self-preservation and become ossified.

    In science, scientists are held accountable. But is something similar happening with religion? Where are the checks and balances in religions like Mormonism? The only options for members: (1) stay active and keep quite, (2) stay and become inactive, or (3) leave. I stay largely because it’s my heritage. Mormonism’s attempt to join conservative Christians doesn’t seem to me what the founders intended.

  3. Allen says:

    Hi Roger, thanks for sharing with us. Religion has a form of checks and balances in the scriptures. If something disagrees with the scriptures, that thing is considered false. This is an inefficient form of checks and balances, because the scriptures can be interpreted in various ways. The checks and balances in science consist of data collected via the scientific method and publishing of data in peer reviewed journals. And, as we might expect, not all scientists are in agreement about some things.

    I think that some of your disagreements with Mormonism probably concern the things that you think the church should be doing with its members and with the income from voluntary donations. This type of disagreement is to be expected. Somebody has to make decisions about how the church will use its resources, and not everyone will agree with those decisions. We have entrusted our donations of time and money to the GA of the church, and we accept their decisions about use of those resources, even though we may not always agree with the priorities they set.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      The kind of checks and balances that I would like to see has to do with issues like racism. Clearly President Brigham Young had personal issues that by today’s standards would be considered racist. Yet, it took the Church until 1978 to straighten out the situation. And then, the Church leadership did not resolve the entire issue (think Prof. Randy Bott here).

      In my opinion, we are headed down the same path with LGBT issues today. Gay rights for many Mormons, including myself, is a civil rights issue and not a moral issue. I have a niece who is gay and a colleague who is gay. They are of no threat to my family and I. In fact, my niece has frequently babysat my grandchildren. Additionally, I’ve had 2 colleagues who have committed suicide. I will forever wonder if they were gay. On issues like LGBT (and racism before it), we need to look at what science is telling us.

      As the LGBT issue is being resolved, there will be continuing discussions on the role of women. Clearly the current situation is untenable.

      There clearly needs to be more membership (and science) input into non-doctrine (and pseudo-doctrinal) issues. But as you have pointed out, it is not always easy to differentiate between policy and doctrine. For example, before 1978, many Mormon’s would have considered black priesthood denial doctrine.

  4. T Robinson says:

    Roger,
    Read a few of your articles. interesting. This is off the topic. One of the Danish TV Stations wanted information on your brother and his Danish Ancestry. I have enclosed her email
    (eytan.steinitz@gmail.com)

    I have a website on the Descendants of Hans Jorgensen which you descend from through Marion Jorgensen (her husband was Andrew George Munk ). I have been attempting to save as many of the histories, pictures, articles on this family, so these things are not lost, thrown out, or forgotten. So far I have listed over 32,800 descendants from this family, as well as histories, pictures, DNA results. I have made this tree private only to family members. If your are interested and would like access let me know. My email is trevorgrobinson@me.com. Your more than welcome to make copy’s of any articles and pictures, etc. I would like to get the names or your family members if they are not listed. Birthdates are optional.

    Just glancing at your blogg and some of the topics. You makes some valid points. I have often thought about many of these same subjects. I have spent the majority of my life in school. I was 39 when I finally finished medical school, two residencies, and a fellowship. I do not think we can explain everything with religion. At the same time science cannot explain everything. The more knowledge I have gained the more I realize that there is a Creator. There may be a few things that I cannot completely understand, but I can take those on faith. I think my faith in the church requires both an intellectual and a spiritual conversion. You need both. I understand your empathy for those that are gay or lesbian. Just as people are born with learning deficiencies, mental retardation, or psychiatric problems, people can be born gay. For some there may be a choice for others maybe not. I have members in my family who struggle with this, so does my wife. We love them dearly. Many others are born with tendencies for narcotics or alcohol, or pornography, but we cannot embrace these lifestyles into the church. We face our challenges the best we can. There will be many surprises on Judgement day. The Savior will hold us accountable for the choices we have made, but he will take into consideration the challenges that we were born with. I have an in-law that we very much like and care for. Recently diagnosed with HIV. Hundreds of partners over his lifetime. Would go to a bathhouse and have 7 or 8 partners in a weekend. It has been difficult for us to see his decline. Unfortunately his outcome has been a result of choices that he made. If our church were to embrace gay marriage, we would have to embrace other behaviors as well. What about those are sexually attracted to young children. Many are good people, but any psychiatrist would tell you these people are hard wired and almost impossible to change.

  5. rogerdhansen says:

    Hi Trevor, Thanx for the geneological information. I think you are wrong when you state that “if our church were to embrace gay marriage, we would have to embrace other behaviors as well.” The church could hold gay couples to the same standards as heterosexual partners. Those attracted to young children are a separate issue. We don’t allow this type of contact in heterosexual cases now. And we shouldn’t allow it in homosexual relations either. We need to protect our children.

    Gay adults shouldn’t be held to a no-contact standard. Physical love is an important part of life. Hopefully, gay marrage would discourage promiscuity. But it will not eliminate it anymore than heterosexual marrage eliminates promiscuity. Roger

    • Allen says:

      D&C 131:1-4 states that the Celestial Kingdom is composed of three degrees or heavens, and that the highest degree is given only to one who enters into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. The GA interpret that to refer to a man and a woman who enter into the covenant of marriage. My question is, can two persons of the same sex who are legally married by state and probably by federal law receive the other two degrees of the celestial kingdom? From another viewpoint, does the attraction by two persons of the same gender carry through the resurrection same gender attraction exists after the resurrection? We don’t know. We all have our own beliefs about these questions. The time will come, however, when we each will find out for ourselves the answers to these questions. In the meantime, let us each look at ourselves and our attitudes towards people who are different from us. I don’t believe that giving others the right to be different means we think those differences are “correct” or “wrong”. Those differences merely mean that those persons are different from us.

  6. Susan says:

    Does it really matter if the pearly gates swing in or swing out? And Allen’s question of “can two persons of the same sex who are legally married by state and probably by federal law receive the other two degrees of the celestial kingdom”? Really? Won’t we be judged on how we treat our gay brothers or sisters without attempting to classify them into a certain category or “degree of glory”?

    And Trevor, your comments that some people are born gay are absolutely true. However, categorizing gays into a category of people who were born with “learning disabilities, retardations, mental/psychiatric disabilities” is ridiculous. We were ALL born less than perfect. My daughter is left handed. One of her best friends is color blind (and gay, by the way). My brother was born deaf. Aren’t we are ALL brothers and sisters together in this life?

    • Allen says:

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, our treatment of all of God’s children is critical. However, Jesus taught that his father’s house has many mansions. And the D&C expands on this by stating that the Celestial Kingdom has three divisions. So, my question stands.

  7. Susan says:

    I think you’ll find that discussing the degrees of glory gets added to the list of growing topics that make the church a bit uncomfortable. My statement still stands. Who am I (and who are you) to try to classify anyone into a category or “degree of glory”? Isn’t that up to God?

    • Allen says:

      Yes, it is up to God. All we can do is speculate about it. God has spoken, and his word is given in
      D&C 131:1-4. The Celestial Kingdom is divided into three “glories”, and in order to inherit the highest glory, which we call exaltation, people must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You and I can speculate what is meant by that phrase. The GA of the LDS church claim to be apostles and prophets, and they say that phrase refers to eternal sealing of a man and a woman. You and I can speculate whether the GA are apostles and prophets. I accept them as such. I thus accept D&C 131:1-4 as the word of God.

  8. rogerdhansen says:

    I can’t help but think that walls (or divisions) in the hereafter are more symbolic than real. If there is a hereafter, I personally believe in eternal progression for everyone. Thus, discussions of the degrees of glory isn’t of much interest.

    As you have pointed out Allen, we all have our own personal beliefs. No two Mormons have identical beliefs. I suspect that in the end, we will be judged, to some extent, on how we have measured up to our own beliefs.

    An important teaching of Mormonism is that you can take whatever knowledge you have learned on earth to heaven with you. And, for me, that includes all knowledge, not just scriptural information. Thus, science and other universal truths (such as we know them) are just as important as ecclesiastical knowledge.

    For me, my religion and science are just one big package. There are no conflicts. Religion should put a soul in science, and science should explain the workings of God or gods. This is the beauty of Mormonism.

  9. Susan says:

    I’m afraid, Roger, that your last paragraph sounds like you are looking at this with rose-colored glasses (or should I say, good for you!). Are you truly able to say there are no conflicts between science and religion? Religion SHOULD (emphasis added) put a soul in science, and science SHOULD (emphasis added) explain the workings of God or gods. I don’t understand how that ends with being the “beauty of Mormonism”. If anything, it has caused a multitude of questions and division in the church. Maybe another generation will figure it out?

    • rogerdhansen says:

      You got me. I didn’t explain myself very well. What I should have said is: “There is no conflict between MY version of Mormonism and science.”

      I personally don’t believe that any two Mormons have the same identical beliefs (even about doctrine). The liberal Mormonism that I was raised in (MY version) wouldn’t find a conflict between science and religion. But since the 1960s and the death of Apostle John A. Widtsoe, institutional Mormonism has moved closer to Christian conservatism, and this is very distressing to me. Since the 1960s, my own person beliefs have occasionally wandered toward agnosticism. For example, maybe doctrinal concerns aren’t as important as how we treat our fellow women and men.

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