Re: Separation of science and religion

Craig Rusbult (
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 13:11:24 -0600

In response to my comment,
>> And it is wise to pray for things that *are* scientifically absurd, yet
>> are plausible to believe on the basis of God's power and grace.

George says,
> We aren't to pray only if we have a scientific theory which
>explains how our prayers should be answered. But in the vast majority
>of cases, God works through natural processes & in accord with the laws
>we have discovered which govern those processes. (Which is simply
>another way of saying, "Scientific description of the world has been
>pretty successful.") I think it is helpful to be able able to see how
>God can work within that framework & still have the freedom to respond
>to petitions.

I think it is a very unclear description -- to say that God can answer
prayers (in the true sense of an answer) "through natural processes" --
unless there is a clear accompanying statement that there *is* theistic
action (of a type that would not have occurred with a random running of the
universe) even though this may *appear* to be non-miraculous.
Otherwise, no matter what are the subtleties of what you may mean by
"natural process" this will be heard as "no action by God, and no answer to
prayer" (because there was no problem that could not be solved by just
letting nature run its usual course) by almost everyone who hears it.

>Otherwise one simply has to make a sacrifice of the
>intellect & pretend that God performs miracles with a frequency which
>would make the whole scientific enterprise problematic.
> ...snip... A universe which operated by continual miracle would be a
>nightmare - we would have no idea what was going on.

I think we both want to avoid "two-model strawmen": either no theistic
action, or Alice-in-Wonderland confusion where very little makes sense.
The question is: how can we state in-between views clearly, so they can
be understood. I don't think referring to "God working through natural
processes" is sufficient, unless there is a modifying statement (in the
same sentence, or a nearby sentence) that clarifies the difference between
"no action" and "action that does not appear to be miraculous," and that
also acknowledges the existence of miracles (such as the resurrection of a
dead person) that CANNOT be explained by science because they occurred by
processes that differ from the "normal mechanisms" postulated by science.