I haven’t blogged on this subject in a while, due to the kinds of comments/blitzkrieg it always evokes. And I’m sure I’ll be accused of “arguing from authority” here, simply because I’m quoting someone I find particularly eloquent and persuasive.
But so be it: When I saw Chad Orzel’s post last week explaining why it is that science and religion can be compatible, I couldn’t help linking, as it so perfectly summarizes my own view, and in better terms than I myself can probably put it:
OK, fine, as a formal philosophical matter, I agree that it’s basically impossible to reconcile the religious worldview with the scientific worldview. Of course, as a formal philosophical matter, it’s kind of difficult to show that motion is possible.
We don’t live in a formal philosophical world, though, and the vast majority of humans are not philosophers (and that’s a good thing, because if we did, it would take forever to get to work in the morning). Humans in the real world happily accept all sorts of logical contradictions that would drive philosophers batty. And that includes accepting both science and religion at the same time.
So, in my view, it is not in any way an “unconscionable” political statement for professional scientific organizations to state that science and religion are compatible. It’s a statement of fact, an acknowledgment that in the real world, there are numerous examples of people who are both personally religious and successful, even prominent scientists. Guy Consolmagno, George Coyne, Bill Phillips, Francis Collins, and many more.
How do these people deal with the philosophical contradiction inherent in there beliefs? I have no idea. I don’t really care, either, any more than I care how philosophers resolve Zeno’s paradox. Religious scientists exist, and I can move from one side of the room to the other in finite time. End of debate, let’s talk about something that actually matters.
There is nothing unconscionable, in my view, in professional organizations stating publicly that these people exist. What would be unconscionable is the reverse–a public statement that science and religion can never be compatible amounts to a denial of the existence of the many men and women who find some way to reconcile science and religion in their own lives. I find that sort of rhetoric deeply insulting even on blogs, let alone from a professional organization.
Amen amen amen….and now, let the wild ruckus begin.
Links to this Post
- The Wonderful Thing About Science? | The Intersection | Discover Magazine | January 14, 2010
- What Should Science Organizations Say About Religion? Answer: A Lot | The Intersection | Discover Magazine | January 19, 2010
- Contempt for philosophy breeds contempt for thinking : The Uncredible Hallq | January 19, 2010