Friday, September 09, 2005

What is the conflict between science and religion?

Some people believe in God because of some careful assessment of what they see as evidence, and move from there. Perhaps they read Genesis to say that the earth is 6000 years old, that the world was created in 6 days, that there's actually an Ark up there on Mt. Ararat, that God created all the different "kinds" of plants and animals, etc.

When new evidence arises which conflicts with some tenet of their faith, I suppose that can be shattering.

I suspect that most people (not least the Apostles, excluding Thomas) are fideists.

The argument presented in the Wikipedia entry seems pretty fair to me:
  • Christian theology teaches that people are saved by faith.
  • But, if God's existence can be proven, either empirically or logically, faith becomes irrelevant.
  • Therefore, if Christian theology is true, no proof of God's existence is possible.
It's not that far from the way that an argument from design is used to disprove God in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (we did this once before).

My religious beliefs are independent of scientific evidence. If I took the Pope or Billy Dembski back in a time machine to Jerusalem, around 34 CE, and we didn't see Jesus, didn't see miracles, didn't see the scourging of the Temple, would either stop being Christian? I doubt it. I think your religious faith isn't about some dude who did or didn't die in this or that place.

It's something deeper. I think it trivializes faith to argue about whether evolution proves or disproves God. It does neither. If a god can't have created life by setting the universe into motion, it's a pretty trivial deity, surely not one capable of supernaturally designing the universe and all life.

Scientific arguments for the existence of God are self-inconsistent, or at least irrelevant to believers. A person of faith won't reject God because of evolution.

IDolators and other creationists worry that their ability to proselytize will be weakened. Other people don't share their faith, or their tortured reading of Genesis, and evidence against creationism hurts their cause in terms of conversions. But that's not an attack on religion.

(Adapted from a post on the Kansas Citizens for Science forums.)

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