Faith Versus Fact Why Science And Religion Are Incompatible Pdf

faith versus fact why science and religion are incompatible pdf

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Scientific and technological advances have had profound effects on human life. In the 19th century, most families could expect to lose one or more children to disease. Today, in the United States and other developed countries, the death of a child from disease is uncommon.

Look Inside. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion—including faith, dogma, and revelation—leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions. Coyne irrefutably demonstrates the grave harm—to individuals and to our planet—in mistaking faith for fact in making the most important decisions about the world we live in.

Faith Versus Fact

Some scientists assert that valid knowledge can only come from science. They hold that religious beliefs are the remains of pre-scientific explanations of the world and amount to nothing more than superstition. On the other side, some people of faith believe that science conveys a materialistic view of the world that denies the existence of any reality outside the material world.

Science, they think, is incompatible with their religious faith. I contend that both — scientists denying religion and believers rejecting science — are wrong. Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters.

The scope of science is the world of nature: the reality that is observed, directly or indirectly, by our senses. Science advances explanations about the natural world, explanations that are accepted or rejected by observation and experiment. Outside the world of nature, however, science has no authority, no statements to make, no business whatsoever taking one position or another.

Science has nothing decisive to say about values, whether economic, aesthetic or moral; nothing to say about the meaning of life or its purpose. Science has nothing to say, either, about religious beliefs, except when these beliefs transcend the proper scope of religion and make assertions about the natural world that contradict scientific knowledge. Such statements cannot be true. People of faith need not be troubled that science is materialistic.

The materialism of science asserts its limits, not its universality. The methods and scope of science remain within the world of matter. It cannot make assertions beyond that world. Science transcends cultural, political and religious beliefs because it has nothing to say about these subjects. That science is not constrained by cultural or religious differences is one of its great virtues.

It does not transcend these differences by denying them or taking one position rather than another. It transcends cultural, political and religious convictions because these matters are none of its business. Some scientists deny that there can be valid knowledge about values or about the meaning and purpose of the world and of human life. The biologist Richard Dawkins explicitly denies design, purpose and values.

William Provine , a historian of science, asserts that there are no absolute principles of any sort. He believes modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society. There is a monumental contradiction in these assertions. If its commitment to naturalism does not allow science to derive values, meaning or purposes from scientific knowledge, it surely does not allow it, either, to deny their existence.

In its publication Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science , the US National Academy of Sciences emphatically asserts that religion and science answer different questions about the world:. Science as a mode of inquiry into the nature of the universe has been immensely successful and of great technological and economic consequence. The technology derived from scientific knowledge pervades our lives: the high-rise buildings of our cities, throughways and long-span bridges, rockets that take men and women into outer space, telephones that provide instant communication across continents, computers that perform complex calculations in millionths of a second, vaccines and drugs that keep pathogens at bay, gene therapies that replace DNA in defective cells.

These remarkable achievements bear witness to the validity of the scientific knowledge from which they originated. People of faith should stand in awe of the wondrous achievements of science. But they should not be troubled that science may deny their religious beliefs. Nor should people of faith transgress the proper boundaries of religion by making assertions about the natural world that are contrary to scientific knowledge.

Religion concerns the meaning and purpose of the world and human life, the proper relation of people to their Creator and to each other, the moral values that inspire and govern their lives. Science, on the other hand, concerns the processes that account for the natural world: how the planets move, the composition of matter and the atmosphere, the origin and function of organisms.

Religion has nothing definitive to say about these natural processes: nothing about the causes of tsunamis or earthquakes or why volcanic eruptions occur, or why there are droughts that ruin farmers' crops. The explanation of these processes belongs to science. It is a categorical mistake to seek their explanation in religious beliefs or sacred texts. Science provides an account of how galaxies, stars and planets came about after the big bang. It has discovered how the HIV epidemic originated and how Aids spreads.

A person of faith may interpret these events in religious terms, but they are explained by science. There are people of faith who see the theory of evolution and scientific cosmology as contrary to the creation narrative in Genesis. But Genesis is a book of religious revelations and of religious teachings, not a treatise on astronomy or biology. According to Augustine , the great theologian of the early Christian church, it is a blunder to mistake the Bible for an elementary textbook of astronomy, geology, or other natural sciences.

As he writes in his commentary on Genesis:. Successful as it is, however, a scientific view of the world is hopelessly incomplete. Matters of value and meaning are outside the scope of science. Even when we have a satisfying scientific understanding of a natural object or process, we are still missing matters that may well be thought by many to be of equal or greater import.

Scientific knowledge may enrich aesthetic and moral perceptions and illuminate the significance of life and the world, but these matters are outside the realm of science. Francisco J. Ayala is a molecular biologist and evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, and winner of this year's Templeton Prize. Religion has nothing to do with science — and vice versa.

Scientists like Richard Dawkins say the universe has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, but these things are not the business of science, says geneticist Francisco J. They are the exclusive preserve of religion. By the same token, religion should not make assertions about the natural world that are contrary to science. Are religion and science incompatible? In River out of Eden, he writes: "The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

In its publication Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science , the US National Academy of Sciences emphatically asserts that religion and science answer different questions about the world: "Whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence are not questions for science. As he writes in his commentary on Genesis: "If it happens that the authority of sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets Scripture does not understand it correctly.

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Religion has nothing to do with science – and vice versa

Please type in your email address in order to receive an email with instructions on how to reset your password. In his provocative new book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion-including faith, dogma, and revelation-leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions. Coyne is responding to a national climate in which over half of Americans don't believe in evolution and congressmen deny global warming , and warns that religious prejudices and strictures in politics, education, medicine, and social policy are on the rise. Extending the bestselling works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, he demolishes the claims of religion to provide verifiable 'truth' by subjecting those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science. Coyne irrefutably demonstrates the grave harm-to individuals and to our planet-in mistaking faith for fact in making the most important decisions about the world we live in. By clicking "Notify Me" you consent to receiving electronic marketing communications from Audiobooks.

Perception of Conflict Between Science and Religion

Are science and religion at odds with each other? Moreover, the view that science and religion are often in conflict is particularly common among Americans who are, themselves, not very religiously observant as measured by frequency of attendance at worship services. Those who are religiously unaffiliated often have supernatural beliefs and spiritual practices, even though they say they do not feel connected to a particular religion.

Faith versus fact : why science and religion are incompatible

Some scientists assert that valid knowledge can only come from science. They hold that religious beliefs are the remains of pre-scientific explanations of the world and amount to nothing more than superstition. On the other side, some people of faith believe that science conveys a materialistic view of the world that denies the existence of any reality outside the material world. Science, they think, is incompatible with their religious faith.

Coyne argues that religion and science are incompatible, by surveying the history of science and stating that both religion and science make claims about the universe, yet only science is open to the fact that it may be wrong. Coyne was astonished that after having published his book Why Evolution Is True that the proportion of creationists in United States still remained between 40 and 46 percent. He felt that faith was the reason that kept them from accepting the facts and evidence for evolution.

Evolution Resources at the National Academies

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