Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Mythological Conflict Between Christianity and Science

Some news hooks are irresistible, even when they're false or at least incomplete. Case in point: the alleged conflict between science and religion. Is science opposed to religion? The answer depends in large measure on what you mean by religion. If your "religion" is, say, astrology, then you could say there's a conflict between science and "religion". The science of astronomy does conflict with the "religion" of astrology.

Probably most people who speak of a conflict between science and religion, though, don't mean the "religion" of astrology -- if they think of astrology as a religion at all. They mean Christianity or perhaps Judeo-Christianity. They have before their minds Galileo and his struggle with the Inquisition of the Catholic Church over geocentrism or, more recently, the argument certain Christians have with the theory of evolution. Or perhaps they have only a vague idea that as science progresses religion becomes more and more problematic. Religion, in this view, is simply a way of talking about things science hasn't yet explained. When science gets around to explaining them, no role for religion will remain, and like the State in the Marxist paradise, it will wither away.

Those ideas about science and "religion" suppose an inherent conflict between the two fields. Conflicts, of course, make for more exciting news stories. But does the constant "hook" of a battle between science and religion reflect reality? Are science and religion -- specifically Christianity -- inevitably at odds with one another?

No, says physicist and Catholic Stephen Barr, read more . . .

1 comment:

Papa said...

What a wonderful article. I particularly like the brevity and incisiveness with which he describes the evolution debate, and his characterization of the intelligent design argument.

The description of how atheists tend to see religion was insightful, too, but it raises a question. How do we describe "what religion is all about" to such a person?

Also, I'm pretty sure one could make a case that the following is an error: "...the Church never condemned the idea that the human body evolved from pre-existing organisms."