Religion vs. science?

I have a serious question for the religious people out there. Jenkinsfan? This one’s for you.

Now, I’m an atheist and a materialist. Never claimed to be anything else. My belief in god and the “super-natural” is nil. I believe that science can and should explain everything.
My question is this. Why should/would religious people be interested in science. If god created the world and is omnipotent, why bother understanding why things work. God can just change the rules anytime he wants. What works as an iron law today might not tomorrow. What is the point of scientists studying the world? Studying geology, astronomy, etc? Do you think that science such as that is foolish? I’m pretty sure you don’t but want to hear your explanation of why it’s not. Should people not waste their time with it?

I realize this is a general question, but the nature of it seems more Great Debate material.

I realize I’m not considered a Christian by most people because I am Mormon, but I wish to respond with this letter from the

Basically, we believe that God must follow the laws of science, just like Man must follow the laws of science. Science is beautiful, eloquent, and even Divine.

I would like to say that if we know how the universe works, then we will be closer to knowing ourselves. Basically, I am a Pagan, and in my line of thinking, we have to have a working understanding of nature and the workings off-planet in order to be able to affect them positively. I’m still working on my end of the learning, loooooong way from having it down pat.

My husband feels as you do, Oldscratch. He’s fond of the “Starstuff” theory, which basically says that we came from the stars, and we will return to them someday. Church holds nothing for him but bad memories of hipocrisy. I’m not saying that that’s the way it is for everyone, just for him.

IMHO, religion and science do not need to be mutually exclusive. They can work and do work very well together, when you can let down the walls and see all of this as being different aspects of the same thing.

That sort of answers my question but not really.
Several points. In that article it doesn’t state that god must follow the laws of science. It only stated that science could explain how man came about. Why does God have to follow the laws of science, couldn’t he change them? Or is he not all-powerfull. If he is not all-powerfull, why is that.
Also, as a mormon, why do you think it’s worthwhile for us to know how the universe was formed. Wasn’t it just God’s work? Is there really any point in knowing?

FYI, I actually talked to a man this weekend that made these exact arguments. He basicly said that science is worthless because GOD created the world and that’s all there is too it. Since science contradicted the bible so much, it must be wrong and worthless. This threw me for a loop, I didn’t realize anyone thought like this anymore. I was curious if other Christians thought this.
BTW, pepperlandgirl, you’ll always be a Christian in my book/. :slight_smile:

I haven’t seen anything aginst learning how the world works. We don’t know everything, nor will we. Heck, we aren’t even sure if what we think of a solid scientifc law will be that way tomorrow.

Nothing in the bible against learning. :slight_smile:

I have often suggested to religious types that evolution could be devine. They won’t have it…or hear it.

For the record, I’m anti-religion. However, I consider myself to be quite spiritual.

OldScratch, I think there are too many checks and balances for this world of ours to be a random mish-mash of events.
What do you think?

Old Scratch, I personally don’t have a great deal of interest in science. (Politics is my cup o’tea.) However, there are many Christians who have interest in science and seek to find just how the world that God created works.

God can change the rules, but He doesn’t. He’s an orderly God. Gravity and such were placed on earth by Him and He’s allowed them to stay. As long as the earth remains, God’s laws will remain.

Understanding the world that God created helps many to better understand God. Thus, we have Christian scientists.

Science is necessary for understanding how to fulfill G-d’s laws. For example (a Jewish example here), G-d said not to start a fire on the Sabbath. When electricity came along, it became necessary for the Rabbis to determine whether use of this new type of energy falls under that category. Scientific knowledge is necessary if we’re to understand just what G-d wants us to do in this world.

I would argue that religion takes over where science leaves off. Science is the process of rational observation and extrapolation from available facts. To the extent that we cannot have factual answers to certain issues (life after death, the meaning of life, or even what we should, ethically speaking, do) we use some kind of faith, even if we don’t call it religion. I believe Carl Sagan called it “non-overlapping domains”.

In other words, creationists are just plain incorrect when they say that animal species were created by God as per the Bible; we simply know that’s not true. However, as to, say, “Why did the Big Bang take place?”, that’s something that’s unexplained by science, and we are free to believe what we want, whatever is most useful to our understanding of the universe.

That there is no God is as much a faith-based position as that there is a God. A position involving no faith at all would be “I don’t know whether there is a God or not, and I’m reserving my judgment until it be proven one way or the other.”

Of course, faiths that claim to be true are charlatanisms and ideologies. But just because an opinion isn’t definitely true doesn’t mean it’s definitely false. Only facts can be definitely true or false. Opinions and beliefs have an uncertain truth-value until they are proven either true or false (for which we use science.)

When I was a Freshman, my science teacher tried to explain this to me. You see, he was also Bishop of one of the local wards. I could not understand how he could be a Bishop, and still believe in science.
He then explained that God is all powerful, but there are certain laws of the Universe that even God must follow. Now, this gets really hard to explain, and if I tried to state the reasons why, people will just think I’m a nut.
Anyway, the thing is, if what we know as hydrogen and oxygen when formed in a certain way will always make water, then God will not manipulate it into something else.
Look, like the article said, we understand WHY we are here, but we don’t understand HOW we are here. I personally think cells alone could prove there is a God because how could something so perfect be random?
God uses science to create. We use science to understand how God created.

So if hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water, god will not manipulate it into - say - wine? :slight_smile:

Easy, Pep. God, if there is one, is essentially lazy. Thus he set up basic rules of the universe to control day to day things – miracles which defy these rules are thus signs of divine interventions above and beyond these rules.

Come to think of it, if there are no “preordained” rules, there either aren’t any miracles, or everything is a miracle; which either way makes believe kind of dull. (my milk has spoiled, praise God!)

There are of course “miracles” which kind of bend the rules – lucky coincidences and the like.

“There is providence in the fall of a sparrow” though as Shakespeare said…

(relegiously moody – jesus freak / satanist / atheist)

From what I understand, the Roman Catholic Church supports modern astronomy & evolution (the two scientific topics people usually think are anti-religion), but with God in control of it all. Perhaps this is along the “non-overlapping domains” idea.

matt, that was Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA principle, or “non -overlapping magisteria.” (Sorry, I don’t have a link; the article is in the March '97 issue of Natural History.)

Gould believed, as you explain, that science and religion do not conflict with each other, as “each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of
teaching authority–and these magisteria do not overlap…”

However, Gould cautions:

[personal pov hijack]
I think any attempt at answers to these “joint border” questions must include theological as well as scientific examination by the seeker, in order to give a true perspective. (Obviously, this task is easier for us atheists.) While it is plain that any attempt to artificially combine the two systems subverts either science or religion, it can also be said that to separate the theological aspects of any particular field of study from the factual and theoretical considerations is to promote raw understanding of the topic (in whichever context it is being viewed) at the cost of realization of its import.
[/ppov hijack]

Sure, why not? To say that once a domain is occupied by theology it’s fixed in place is the exact opposite of what I’m saying.

By the same token, I would take the last sentence of your post and add “or vice versa” to the end of it.

OK. Actually, what I wanted to say was that a single “magisterium” approach to knowledge can afford one an understanding of the subject only in terms of the particular standard with which one has approached the subject. In order to truly realize the import of the subject, as it applies to oneself and everything else, one must apply all personally appropriate paradigms.

I admit, this is kind of a cagey philosophical point, as it allows for an infinite possible number of “realizations” for the same set of phenomena (or at least it allows for purely individual realizations). -I don’t mean to imply that each individual conclusion becomes an equally valid scientific analysis!! Nor do I mean to say that all theological interpretations are useful or appropriate. I only mean that knowledge can be gained and objective and relative value judgements made within a single domain, but subjective truths can only be determined individually by applying both objective approaches.

Thus, both science and religion succeed very well in their own ways at establishing universal truths (or probabilities). Full personal understanding requires both sets of “truths.” (Yes, I know I sound like Pontius Pilate. I can’t help it.) Full understanding then becomes at once uniquely personal, yet measurable by objective yardsticks imposed by each magisterium.

If I were a Creator Deity, I would be upset if anyone did not care to find out all the neat details I had built into the place. The more we learn about the way this Universe works, the more I can appreciate the subtlety of its construction.

The first instruction God gave Adam was to name all things He had Created. We are still far from fulfilling that directive. The scientific method is the best tool we have yet developed to find the true nature of our world.

Any deity who wants my respect has to play fair. If He has made a Universe for us that looks orderly and seems to be a result of the almost infinite variations and permutations of a few basic forces, then I have to take the world as He made it. To insist that the world be limited to what a poet said to try to explain our relationship with God borders upon blasphemy.

Thus ends a rather uncharacteristic rant from your most obedient servant…

Xenophon, thanks. You’ve said everything i wanted to say. All I’d do would be to emphasize that this

is as true for science as it is for any metaphysical understanding.

Fact illustrates. We are then free to consider the best possible Truth considering those facts. What type of metaphysical explanation this includes is strictly up to us. Values are not facts, and therefore they cannot be given to us by either science or reason; we are free to come up with them ourselves.

And DrFidelius, Galileo agreed with you when he said “I do not believe that the God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect intended us to forgo their use.”

Ok. Thanks everyone. Another question for you. Can science ever explain miracles? Do they follow the laws of the universe. Now I know this is more an opinion thing, but if you religous/science people want to chime in with what you think, that would be great.

I got this from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

By this definition no. Maybe a better question would be can science prove miracles happen.