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Science and God: They are the Same (sort of)

A recent post on the NPR subsidiary blog 13.7 Cosmos & Culture asks a complicated question about how or why one chooses religion over science or views the two as not mutually exclusive. Marcelo Gleiser’s “The Need To Believe: Where Does It Come From?” never really provides an answer, though it offers considerations from both the religious as well as the scientific (or sometimes atheistic) sides. In fact, Gleiser does point out that “much grief comes from the insistence from either side that the opposite is wrong or meaningless,” citing a specific case where an atheist criticizes a fellow scientist for professing a belief in God. What I find most interesting about the post is Gleiser’s insistence, rightfully so, that there is far more “in-between” belief than most people realize. The divisions between science and religion, believers and nonbelievers is not as polarized as the media and even staunch believers and deniers want the rest of the world to believe. Gleiser argues that these “in-between positions” manifest themselves where “doubt and the limits of what we know creep in.” The limits of our knowledge always make us vulnerable to doubt. This is why religious people rely so heavily on faith. We need not limit that faith to spiritual matters. We can have faith in science, too.

collideGODsci

Links to a site exploring these issues in a religious context.

Regardless of what some scientists want us to believe, science does not and likely never will have all the answers. Greater knowledge and understanding will always be one more experiment away. The revival of skepticism in early-modern Europe had the right idea inasmuch as the skeptics exercised a suspension of judgement, waiting patiently to see what the next experiment would confirm or prove wrong or reveal about the world, the cosmos that no one had considered. Unfortunately, much of today’s religious and scientific cultures are too sure of everything, and that certainty, more than anything else, leads to criticism and persecution of others’ beliefs.

I possess what I think is a unique approach in the area of science and religion. Like many men and women, I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. On the contrary, I believe that both religion and science possess truth. In fact, almost every early “scientist” or natural philosopher never would have considered separating the two. Men like Francis Bacon, for example, believed that God and nature, even our observation of that nature, were forever intertwined. Hence, the early belief in a Second Book of Scripture, the Book of Nature, which could teach us as much about and draw us as close to God as the Bible itself. For me, science and God can be seen as one in the same. I firmly believe there are certain laws, laws of physics for example, that are constant, that even God cannot violate. At the same time, since I also believe science could never provide all the answers, could never possibly have all the answers, I believe God resides beyond the unanswerable. Most believers in a God believe that God to be omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If that is the case, then God does have all the answers. God knows everything about physics, for example, and knows how to manipulate matter, everything in nature and the cosmos, to produce his desired results in any given situation. Believers may call these miracles, but if we could breakdown such miracles, I submit that we would ultimately see God’s application of perfect scientific knowledge.

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Comments

  1. “A manipulation of matter”

    God’s interaction with natural laws is, ultimately, His complete understanding of natural laws which allows Him to bend them as He chooses. (Which in reality is not a miracle. But the product of a complete understanding of physics)

    Will scientists ever know everything? How will we know when we know everything?

    When we can scientifically explain all the known “miracles”, will we not have achieved a position as great as God’s?

    Why deem the unanswerable as an excuse to believe in a higher power? But see it rather as an ignorance of current scientific advances.

    Interesting post. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. I agree, a true understanding of science is to know God as God himself.

  3. vonleonhardt2 says:

    As a philosopher, even a bad one, I find the issue lay far more in the fact that science is non-telic and religion is exclusively telic. Any attempt to toss them in a ring comes more from the ambiguities of the English “why” than much else. Why (non-telic) or how does it rain? Precipitation. Why does it rain (telic)? Who knows!? it could instead “puane” methane all over. Or because God wanted to water plants, etc.

    It’s the old Galileo vrs Aristotle issue, and a lack of understanding of the history of science, and induction vrs deduction rolled into one very marketible package.

    Publish or perish is the name of this game far more than anything else.

  4. Hasnain mohammed says:

    There is something which we all know, and it was born after the existence of the earth, namely: life. Our scientists state that earth was too hot (and some of them say it was too cold) for any kind of life to exist on it. It took the earth millions of years to become a suitable place for life. Life, therefore, is, undoubtedly, a newborn.

    Science, however, tells us that life does not originate from non-living being. Pasteur’s experiment, which took place in the 19th century, is still standing. Through his sterilized soup, he proved beyond any doubt that life does not originate from inanimate material. The scientists of today are still unable to disprove his conclusion.

    The earth, along with its atmosphere, at the time of its formation was sterile and unproductive. Transforming the inanimate materials, such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and iron into a living being could not, therefore, be done through a natural process. It must have been done miraculously.

    This means that the existence of life on this planet is a shining evidence on the existence of an Intelligent, Supernatural Designer.

    http://www.al-islam.org/inquiries-about-islam-mohamad-jawad-chirri

    • Thank you for this insightful comment. This pretty much fits with my own personal belief.

      • Hasnain mohammed says:

        You are welcome. When the experimental sciences demonstrate that the elements and natural factors cannot exert any independent influence and do not possess any creativity; when all of our experiences, our sensory feelings, and our rational deductions point to the conclusion that nothing occurs in nature without a reason and cause and that all phenomena are based on an established system and specific laws, when all of this is the case, it is surprising that some people turn their backs on scientific principles, primary deductions and propositions based on reflection, and deny the existence of the Creator.

        Now, too, in the age of science and technology, when man has found his way into space, a considerable number of scientists have a religious outlook as part of the intellectual system; they have come to believe in the existence of a creator, a source for all beings, not only by means of the heart and the conscience, but also through deduction and logic.

        http://www.al-islam.org/god-and-his-attributes-sayyid-mujtaba-musawi-lari/lesson-8-pseudo-scientific-demagoguery

  5. Hasnain mohammed says:

    Should the scientist, who is aware of the natural causes and of the factors determining each step of creation towards perfection, of mankind’s evolution, of the minute accuracy and exactitude that rules every change in the nature that surrounds us, come to believe that these wondrous laws and amazing interactions have somehow fortuitously emerged out of mindless matter?

    Have his discoveries and insights merely brought him to a stage of thought which sees only blind concomitance and chance conjunctures in the exactly interacting phenomena?

    Where is the logic in claiming that belief in God is confined to persons unaware of the processes of creation?

    http://www.al-islam.org/god-and-his-attributes-sayyid-mujtaba-musawi-lari

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  1. […] my previous post, I referenced a personal attack one scientist (an atheist) made on another scientist for his belief […]

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