Saturday, May 13, 2006

Science V.S. Religion

Here's an artical I found on EZINE that echos my feelings very well on the issue of science and religion.

By Chris Bishop

Honestly, I am sick to death of the eternal squabbling between science and religion. Religion is a methodology that has been constructed to enable humans to understand their place in the universe. Science is a methodology that has been constructed to enable humans to understand their place in the universe. There are similarities in the limitations of both systems of thought. In some sense, science and religion are the same. In my opinion, the most important discovery in science is that there are things that we cannot ever know about the universe. This is neatly paralleled in most theistic thinking, that we cannot truly know God. He is a mystery that cannot be fully comprehended.
Let’s start with science. The central tenets of mathematics, physics, cosmology, biology etc., are not invented by human endeavour. They are discovered. They exist independently of humans. The universal layers of opacity have, over hundreds if not thousands of years, been slowly and painstakingly removed by scientists in all fields, to reveal ever more clearer views of not only what our universe is, but how it is. The problem is that these systems do not attempt to explain why it is.
Some people think the whys of the universe are inappropriate even irrelevant questions for scientists to try and answer, but this is just disingenuousness. The most important thing people want to know about the universe, about their lives, about themselves, about their place in the world is, why?
I can reasonably ask why the charge on the electron or the gravitational constant have the very exact values they do. Why is the speed of light what it is? Why can't the position and momentum of a particle be determined simultaneously (yes, I know what happens but why does it happen)? Why did the big bang um… bang, and so on.
The usual scientific reactions remind me of my childhood and the echoes of my mother saying in final exasperation after many ‘whys?’ "There is no reason, that's just the way it is! You have to take my word for it." Or “It’s just a coincidence.” Just a moment now, lets move over to religion and the question of faith. When scientists ask (or even tell us) to accept that there are no reasons for an event like the big bang, no reasons for the universe to exist and can you please just stop asking such nonsensical questions? Scientists are ignoring the really big questions, the why? questions and in the process risk being dogmatic in the same way as certain religionists are (dogma: principle, tenet, doctrinal system laid down by some authority).
With the above in mind however, I have no time for the Creationist ‘philosophy’ currently sweeping the U.S. Evolution is a fact. And what is more, scientific investigations produce facts about our universe. Now, while scientists understandably do not want to engage with Creationists there is still much intelligent and constructive debate to be had. It seems to me that why the universe is as it is, is as interesting and viable a field of scientific exploration as it gets.
The thing is, I am not talking about superstition or religious belief here (let’s put aside the invidious point of view that religion is the cause of all strife in the world because no actually, people are the cause of all strife in the world). I’m not interested in converting anyone to anything. No, what I’m talking about is this. With intelligent objectivity I have arrived at a point of view that says something very ‘spooky’ has been going on in our universe, our world if you will, and coincidence as an argument for things being precisely as they are is just not going to cut it. People want to know why they are here and so do many scientists I suspect. It is a legitimate question to ask even if the possible answer may scare the hell out of some scientists.
Now I must come clean. I don't have so much as a belief in science as have a profound knowledge that what it reveals about the universe is true. I don't so much as believe in God as have a profound knowledge of His existence. The latter has come about exactly because of the former. I haven't got the space to explain how that happened, just go and read science books like Simon Conway Morris’s amazing ‘Life’s solution. Inevitable humans in a Lonely Universe’ or John Gribbin’s ‘Q is for Quantum’ among many others, and you will be utterly astonished at how incredibly unlikely it is that this universe exists in the state that it does, let alone that we are in it.
But just imagine it, among all the wondrous insights that science has given me about our beautiful universe, the biggest and most profound is the certainty of God. Now why is that I wonder?
Chris Bishop.Creative partner.
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