science v religion

From: jack syme <drsyme@cablespeed.com>
Date: Sat Aug 13 2005 - 17:46:08 EDT

 Ok, I am being a little bit lazy, but it feels like it is 105 here.

This is from a friend of mine, from an email newsletter. Mike is a great
guy, an ex pastor. He spends most of his time now working with Christian
business leaders, and science is not his strenght.

Anyway, I have some ideas about this article I will pass on to him. Any
comments from you would be constructive I am sure.

Incoherent Science - Part 1
By
Mike Metzger
August 12, 2005

  "Faith can and should be proclaimed from every mountaintop and city
square. But it has no place in science class."1
One week ago, Charles Krauthammer - a respected journalist, commentator, and
a friend of religion as a public voice - wrote that "intelligent design"
supporters make a grievous error when they attempt to integrate their theory
with science curriculum. Why? According to Krauthammer, science "begins not
with first principles but with observation and experimentation."2 Religion,
on the other hand, begins with subjective speculations that can only be
embraced by faith. Krauthammer's essay is just a prelude to the upcoming
Time Magazine (the August 15th cover reads: "Evolution Wars: The push to
teach "intelligent design" raises a question: Does God have a place in
science class?"). My guess is the stories will follow Krauthammer's lead -
that science ought to be segregated from faith.

But T.S. Eliot, Thomas Kuhn, Sir Isaac Newton, Louis Agassiz, C.S. Lewis,
Walker Percy, and Albert Einstein would - in my opinion - challenge
Krauthammer's segregation of science from religion. That's a long list of
luminaries, and I'll only get half-way through it in this Clapham
Commentary, but let's start with Eliot.

In 1951, the world renowned poet, critic, and editor T.S. Eliot was invited
to address the entire faculty of the University of Chicago on the topic "The
Aims of Education." Eliot made the point that judging how education ought to
be practiced (as Krauthammer is doing) requires using language that can only
be provided by philosophy or theology - not science. Biology, for example,
can provide particulars (how systems work) but it cannot impart purpose.
"Every definition of the purpose of education, therefore, implies some
concealed, or rather, implicit philosophy or theology."3 Eliot believed, for
example, the moment you say that religion ought to be separate from
education,

  whether you are a 'religious person' or not, or whether you expressly
repudiate everything that you call 'a religion'; there will be some sort of
religious attitude - even if you call it a nonreligious attitude - implied
in your answer.4
In order to advocate for the segregation of science from religion,
Krauthammer uses a religious orientation toward science. I find that to be
incoherent.

Second, Krauthammer trots out a tired cliché that science "begins not with
first principles but with observation and experimentation." In 1962, Thomas
Kuhn (1922-1996) refuted this notion in his ground-breaking book The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions. After earning his Ph.D. in physics
(Harvard, 1949), Kuhn developed his idea that, contrary to popular
conception, typical scientists are not objective and independent thinkers.
Rather, they begin with first principles, just like religion. Kuhn
popularized the term "paradigm," meaning the assumptions scientists make
that guide the problem-solving process. Many times, Kuhn maintained, these
assumptions cause scientists to miss important observations or preclude
other disciplines' contributions (e.g., religion). This is why, according to
Kuhn, science does not evolve gradually toward truth, but instead requires
periodic revolutions (which he called "paradigm shifts"). When Krauthammer
declares that science begins not with first principles but with observation
and experimentation, he is simply parroting a reigning paradigm in science -
one that Kuhn debunked years ago.

Third, if Krauthammer's dictum had been adopted centuries ago, it's likely
we would not be enjoying the spectacular benefits of science today. It is no
coincidence that those countries most closely aligned with the
Judeo-Christian tradition have also been the leaders in scientific
developments. This is because Christianity "depicted God as a rational,
responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his
personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful, stable structure awaiting
human comprehension."5 The modern university originated in the monasteries
of Europe. And modern science was cast in the crucible of these new schools.

Sadly, you wouldn't know this by reading most of today's science and history
text books. We forget that Sir Isaac Newton saw a harmony between science
and theology; placing his science books right next to his Bible in his
research. "He did not live in fear of contradicting his faith through the
study of the world. He said that the activity of the scientist is to think
God's thoughts after him."6 It is also why Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), who
combined the results of his brilliant fieldwork with elegant expressions of
the Design Argument, was among the most important geologists of the
nineteenth century and the first to hold an appointment at Harvard. Science
and religion went hand-in-hand.

Charles Krauthammer's remarks reflect the incoherence of science today. In
two weeks, I'll show you how this state of affairs came to be - and how to
reunite faith and science.

_____________________
1"Let's Have No More Monkey Trials: To teach faith as science is to
undermine both," by Charles Krauthammer, Time Magazine. August 8, 2005
2Ibid.
3T.S. Eliot, To Criticize the Critic - The Aims of Education, p.75
4T.S. Eliot, To Criticize the Critic - The Aims of Education, p.108
5c.f., Rodney Stark's excellent history in For The Glory of God: How
Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of
Slavery, Princeton University Press, 2003.
6R.C. Sproul, Lifeviews: Understanding the Ideas that Shape So
Received on Sat Aug 13 17:47:27 2005

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