Faith and science: compatible?

Religious Americans by and large support science.

For Ask Roger Anything, Chris asks:

How do you spiritually reconcile your faith with your acceptance of science?

I don’t really see a problem with this. Faith is what I believe, and science is what I know, or what is reasonably knowable. There’s no contradiction. My running joke used to be “God allowed the Big Bang,” which is overly simplistic, I suppose.

This Slate story about a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on religion and science, indicates: “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.”

I think this is true: “The people who are farther away from religion themselves tend to see stronger conflict, because they’re not as close to actual religious people… They aren’t seeing all those people who don’t have a conflict.”

The problem happens, I think, when people use, for instance, the Bible as a history book – mostly, it is not – or as science book – surely, it is NOT – rather than as a series of stories, written by a bunch of different writers, over a long period, that help shape a theology.

And of course, this was established long ago, well before Galileo and Copernicus got jammed up with their heliocentric “heresy”.

Currently, “the media tends to focus on those rare flashpoints of controversy, such as fights over evolution and the content of science textbooks, and to highlight the most outspoken conservative fundamentalists. For the nonreligious, these strong voices become the faces of religion, and these flashpoints become evidence that religion and science are in conflict. In fact, religious Americans by and large support science.”

What was your favorite or most memorable science demo as a kid?

It was almost certainly at the Corning Museum of Glass, an hour west of Binghamton, with a bunch of “I didn’t know they could do THAT with glass” moments. We went there at least four times before in 1972, when it was damaged in the flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes and was subsequently rebuilt.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

7 thoughts on “Faith and science: compatible?”

  1. When I was religious, I saw no conflict between science and religion, either. But I was also baffled by people so saw one, relgious people in particular. Neither has changed.

  2. I remember, as a child, learning about the Garden of Eden and all that jazz in Vacation Bible School and the like, but I also remember my mom giving me a (kid’s) book on evolution called “Birds that Stopped Flying.”

    I don’t ever remember feeling a conflict in my mind between them; I don’t remember feeling “my Sunday school teacher is telling me one thing and this book is telling me another” and feeling anxious about it (and I was a very, very anxious child).

    I still don’t. I wouldn’t look to the Bible on matters of science any more than I’d look to a chemistry book on matters of moral conduct of my life.

    I find the biggest conflicts come from people at one extreme or another – I have talked with very anti-religious types who are horrified to learn I am backwards enough to believe in God, and I have had extremely conservatively-religious-Christian students tell me I must be an atheist because I teach evolution.

    I figure if you have people at both extremes angry with you, you’re probably steering a reasonable course…

  3. Roger, a favorite quote of mine us from Albert Einstein : “Science without religion is lame; religion without Science is blind.”

  4. I don’t see a conflict either, although I’m asked this very often.

    I had the opportunity to see the Corning museum after I ran the Wineglass Marathon but I was too damaged to see much. Your endorsement is an excellent excuse to attempt the Wineglass again. 🙂

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