This might change the subject
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stacey Ake" <ake@METANEXUS.NET>
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2001 4:39 PM
Subject: [CLIPPINGS] The Guardian (London): Science in search of God; Face
> The Guardian (London) August 25, 2001
> Copyright 2001 Guardian Newspapers Limited
> The Guardian (London)
> August 25, 2001
> SECTION: Guardian Leader Pages, Pg. 24
> LENGTH: 950 words
> HEADLINE: Science in search of God;
> Face To Faith
> BYLINE: Denis Alexander
> When I worked at the American University Hospital, in West Beirut, during
> the Lebanese civil war, shells often whizzed over our heads. Minutes
> a salvo would be returned in the opposite direction, and the first
> casualties would be rushed into emergency. We usually had no idea why the
> shelling had started, nor why it stopped.
> Being a Christian in the scientific community is somewhat analogous. Now
> again, some Texan creationist lobby will make a fresh attempt to ban the
> teaching of evolution in schools. Amid scientific howls of protest,
> Professor X writes another book claiming that science supports an
> worldview. As the shells are lobbed between the extremist camps, the
> impression that science and religion are at loggerheads is reinforced.
> Meanwhile, the silent majority - those many scientists who hold to
> faith - look on in wonder. Generally, we are simply too busy to engage in
> such debates. In my case, however, I got so fed up with the antics of the
> extremists that I ended up writing a book - Rebuilding The Matrix: Science
> And Faith In The 21st Century (published this weekend).
> The fact of the matter is that when it comes to religious faith,
> communities reflect the societies in which they are embedded - as for
> a century, 40% of American scientists believe in a personal God who
> prayer. The level of belief is highest among practitioners of the hard
> sciences, such as physics and geology, lower for the soft sciences, such
> anthropology. The UK has organisations such as Christians in Science, and
> church attendance among science students is proportionally much higher
> for the arts. There appears to be a selection pressure operating here:
> people interested in science are more likely to become Christians, and/or
> Christians are more likely to study science than the arts.
> Those who have studied the history and philosophy of science will not find
> this surprising. Modern science was incubated in a theological womb,
> emerging in a form recognisable by today's scientists during the 16th and
> 17th centuries, an era when new ideas failed to flourish unless
> theologically validated. Many founders of today's scientific disciplines -
> Kepler, Galileo, Boyle, Ray, Newton, Priestley, Maxwell and Faraday - drew
> attention to fruitful interactions between their science and their faith.
> The idea that science and religion were historically always at
> the so-called conflict thesis - became popular during the late 19th
> but is no longer considered a valid, overarching model for the history of
> science-faith interactions.
> Contemporary affinities between science and faith no doubt also arise from
> the his torical framework of the three great monotheistic religions,
> Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Unlike their colleagues in the
> scientists remain firmly wedded to the idea that some things are right,
> whereas others are wrong. No scientist would sweat long hours in the
> laboratory for low pay unless they believed that their hard-earned results
> reflected a reality that was built into the properties of matter. The
> reality remains the same, irrespective of the language or cultural milieu
> which it is described.
> Likewise, the monotheistic religions make truth-claims about history and
> human nature that can be assessed by a review of the evidence and rational
> discourse. In talking about scientific data one moment, and the evidence
> Christian faith the next, there is no need to change one's mind-set.
> None of these explanations for the contemporary affinities between science
> and faith should be taken as justifying the use of science in arguments
> or against, religious belief. Attempts have often been made to utilise the
> prestige of scientific theories to prop up particular personal ideologies.
> Darwinian evolution has been used to justify capitalism, communism,
> and a number of other isms'. This is an abuse of science; evolution is an
> excellent theory to explain the origins of biological diversity, but it
> little or no religious significance - it can be placed equally well within
> an atheistic or theistic context.
> The big theories of science - like evolution and Big Bang cosmology - tend
> to become encrusted with all kinds of religious and scientific barnacles.
> But these should be scraped off to let the theories do what they are good
> doing - and no more. For the Christian, God can bring about his intentions
> any way he chooses, and all that scientists can do is try to describe how
> did it.
> For all its explanatory powers, science is very limited in the kind of
> questions that it can address well: how things work, problems amenable to
> quantification, and deriving general laws about the properties of matter.
> But many types of human knowledge do not make their way into scientific
> journals - such as aesthetics, ethics, history, political theory and
> ultimate questions ( Is there a God?', Does life have any meaning?').
> Scientists are as interested in them as anyone else. But they do not
> comprise part of their science.
> Science continually throws up questions it is unable to answer: ethical
> questions, questions about the application of science, questions about
> identity. Christian theism provides a matrix which affirms the validity of
> scientific knowledge, while undergirding human values at a time when
> scientific discoveries for many people may appear threatening and
> Dr Denis Alexander is chairman of the molecular immunology programme at
> Babraham Institute, and a fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. He
> the journal Science and Christian Belief
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