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.