Are Science and Faith Compatible?

Many who are critical of religion seek to justify their stance by presenting a contrast between science and religious faith. To illustrate the kind of argument I’m talking about, consider the following excerpt:

“Science often traffics in doubt and readily welcomes revision. And these are precisely the attributes that make it deserving of our confidence. This may seem contradictory, but give it a second thought. It is just those systems of thought that would have us believe that they know the answers with certainty because they have been received from an unerring supreme being and interpreted by a chosen priesthood, that should give us pause. Creation myths from the ancient Greeks to the Old Testament give complete descriptions of how the universe was created. No doubt there. Alternatively, science – cosmology, geology, archaeology, biology – give incomplete descriptions filled with open questions…Revision is a victory in science, and that is precisely what makes it so powerful.” (continue reading)

Or this succinct quote from atheist comedian-musician Tim Minchin:

“Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.”

This argument asserts that science is superior to religion precisely because it is self-correcting. Science is constantly evolving to reflect our growing understanding of the universe, whereas religion is stubbornly committed to its ancient truth-claims.

If one accepts that faith requires the denial of observation (hint: it doesn’t), then this argument might seem entirely sensible. Science is, indeed, a powerful tool for understanding the universe and improving the quality of human life. And religion does, by its nature, hinge upon the accuracy of its truth-claims.

Yet there’s a glaring problem. This argument presupposes that every religious system of thought is entirely man-made. The entire force of the argument rests on this presupposition.

If, however, such a system of thought is actually received from an inerrant Supreme Being, then it would be far more worthy of our confidence than any truth derived scientifically. Science may be self-correcting, but Truth revealed directly by a perfect God wouldn’t have any need for correction in the first place. The criticism that religious systems lack science’s capacity for change assumes that there is (and will always be) a need for change.

I say this as someone who deeply values both science AND my religious faith. I spend most of my waking hours absorbed in either one or the other, and I find it perplexing when people seek to portray them as conflicting and mutually exclusive domains.

If anything, I would attest that my Christian faith provides an even more exciting framework for my scientific pursuits. Rather than seeing the universe through the objectively meaningless lens of materialism, I recognize it as a meaningful and beautiful (yet fallen) work of creation. To quote the Irish theologian (and former molecular biophysicist) Alister McGrath:

“If you do believe in God, it gives a new intellectual depth to your science…The more I appreciate the beauty of nature, the more I appreciate the beauty of God, so studying nature is all about gaining a deeper appreciation of God.”

There’s a sense of mystery and humility that comes with studying God’s creation, and applying that knowledge toward the relief of human suffering. In my view, science and faith are more than just compatible. They’re synergistic.

See Also: The Science News Cycle

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13 thoughts on “Are Science and Faith Compatible?

  1. Hey Matt, it’s me again. I’m so happy you’ve written this blog post! Remember when I first made this argument and you said you didn’t understand what contrast I was trying to make? Now you’re beginning to understand – that first quote and the Minchin quote are actually accurate portrayals of the opinions of many atheists, so good job getting that right. Not misrepresenting the opinions of those who disagree with you is a good step. I’m glad that you’re using direct quotes from atheists, rather than the impressions by Christians of what atheists think. Seriously, good call.

    There’s a lot I could say here: I’m not here to argue whether faith is the denial of observation – I don’t see much potential in that argument currently. I am intrigued by your “glaring problem”, though, that the entire force of the science vs. religion credibility argument hinges on the presupposition that religions are created by humans. Allow me to complicate things: what if I’m not presuming that God(s) are created by humans, but that interpretation of the divine, the sacred, and the organized parts of religion are created by humans? Simply put, the first assumption isn’t that humans made gods, it’s that humans control everything we can know about gods. It’s a slightly different, but more difficult epistemological problem.

    Even if you’re religious, it seems minimally controversial to demonstrate the long history of how human beings have (even in scriptures) selectively followed or interpreted their perceived ideas of divine law, guidance, etc. Refusing to follow the prophets is a staple of the Ten Commandments, while the NT has people falling down dead in judgment for holding back their possessions from the Church, etc. Further, looking from history, we see splits between the Orthodox, the Catholic, and the Protestant Reformation…so on and so on, until we arrive at the present day.

    Considering this extensive tradition and history of the fallible nature of human interpretation of religious traditions, certainly it is not difficult to imagine how people would question the credibility of religion, at least in its human elements? All that any of us can know about the claims of “an inerrant Supreme Being” arrives through fallible and flawed (by the admission of most major religions, including Christianity) human beings. Taking the claims of human beings about a God and deciding that those claims should be inerrant, isn’t that something we should heavily scrutinize?

    This problem of religious credibility is a problem of human credibility, and at the end of the day, it just seems that science does more to account for this problem than religion does. God isn’t even in the problem; first you must consider how to handle the human element. The ideas of religion are clearly not delivered directly by a god, clearly they are promoted by human beings who make mistakes. Scripture and history itself tell you that over and over again. If what you said about direct delivery from God was true, who would disbelieve in your God? It would be truly impossible. You are closer to understanding why atheists find science more credible than religion, but you have not yet entirely understood the argument.

    • Hi Alex,

      You raise several interesting and distinct points, so I hope you don’t mind if I resort to the quote-response-quote-response routine.

      “…what if I’m not presuming that God(s) are created by humans, but that interpretation of the divine, the sacred, and the organized parts of religion are created by humans? Simply put, the first assumption isn’t that humans made gods, it’s that humans control everything we can know about gods. It’s a slightly different, but more difficult epistemological problem.”

      I would actually take issue with this assumption as well (that is to say, it’s entirely foreign to my own assumptions, haha). It allows for the existence of God, certainly…but it still falls victim to the naturalistic assumption that God is incapable of directly influencing human understanding, or acting upon earthly events. It sounds much more like a deist’s assumption than a theist’s.

      “All that any of us can know about the claims of “an inerrant Supreme Being” arrives through fallible and flawed (by the admission of most major religions, including Christianity) human beings.”

      Certainly not according to any Christian I’ve talked to! To the best of my knowledge, the belief in Biblical infallibility is virtually universal among all major branches of Christianity (with the exception of a few of the loopier “progressive” Protestant denominations, and perhaps a handful of other pseudo-Christian sects).

      “This problem of religious credibility is a problem of human credibility, and at the end of the day, it just seems that science does more to account for this problem than religion does.”

      I would be very interested to hear you elaborate on this further. If the problem of credibility is a human problem, what makes the pursuit of truth in the physical realm (science) a more error-resistant *system* than the pursuit of truth in the religious realm (systematic theology)? Here it would seem that you have two choices:

      1. Explain why science, as a *system*, is superior to systematic theology (by which I mean “the application of scientific principles to the study of sacred texts”). This seems a difficult argument to make, since the actual methodology is basically identical.

      2. Admit that the problem isn’t with the *methodology*, but with the *starting point* (that is, placing authority in the sacred texts in the first place). In this case, you’re really just falling back on the presuppositions that I critiqued in the post.

      “The ideas of religion are clearly not delivered directly by a god, clearly they are promoted by human beings who make mistakes. Scripture and history itself tell you that over and over again.”

      I disagree with your analysis here (unsurprisingly)…but I’m particularly taken aback by your suggestion that *Scripture* tells us that “the ideas of religion are clearly not delivered directly by a god”. Not to be cheeky or anything…but have you read the Bible?
      2 Timothy 3:16

      “You are closer to understanding why atheists find science more credible than religion, but you have not yet entirely understood the argument.”

      Might it be that I’m failing to fully understand the argument because the argument itself fails to fully understand my religion’s concept of “faith”?

      Both of the quotes I used (which you say are accurate portrayals of the opinions of many atheists) present what are – in my view – ridiculously caricatured versions of what religious people like myself actually mean by “faith”.

    • Matt, thanks for responding. I don’t mind the quote-response back and forth, and I’ll carry that through in my comments below:

      “I would actually take issue with this assumption as well (that is to say, it’s entirely foreign to my own assumptions, haha). It allows for the existence of God, certainly…but it still falls victim to the naturalistic assumption that God is incapable of directly influencing human understanding, or acting upon earthly events. It sounds much more like a deist’s assumption than a theist’s.”

      Is it an assumption that a God is incapable of directly influencing human understanding, or is it an observation of events and a resulting conclusion? I’m not ruling out the possibility that a God could directly influence human understanding, yet I’m interpreting the world, and examining the history of religions and Christianity, too, and deciding that it’s more likely that a God hasn’t been directly influencing human understanding. *That* is where I am going with this argument. Not an assumption: a conclusion from the best available evidence.

      “Certainly not according to any Christian I’ve talked to! To the best of my knowledge, the belief in Biblical infallibility is virtually universal among all major branches of Christianity”

      But isn’t there a difference between the explicit words of the Bible and the way different people within Christianity interpret those words, showing how religion can seem almost entirely human in its practice? (Not to mention that there are beliefs in different degrees of Biblical infallibility – some people think the entire Bible is inerrant, some just infallible, and of course your liberal Protestants that spot somewhat more metaphor…). How infallible can the Bible be if people who believe in it can’t agree on its message? That’s a serious credibility issue right there.

      “I would be very interested to hear you elaborate on this further. If the problem of credibility is a human problem, what makes the pursuit of truth in the physical realm (science) a more error-resistant *system* than the pursuit of truth in the religious realm (systematic theology)? Here it would seem that you have two choices:

      1. Explain why science, as a *system*, is superior to systematic theology (by which I mean “the application of scientific principles to the study of sacred texts”). This seems a difficult argument to make, since the actual methodology is basically identical.

      2. Admit that the problem isn’t with the *methodology*, but with the *starting point* (that is, placing authority in the sacred texts in the first place). In this case, you’re really just falling back on the presuppositions that I critiqued in the post.”

      Sure, I’m happy to elaborate. From my perspective, all that humans can know about religion or science is acquired in the physical realm. If there is a God, the words of that God are spoken through and interpreted by humans. Again, the “presupposition” isn’t about a God, it’s about the quality of human understanding. The “starting point” for science and religion seems equally human to me — not as an assumption, again, but as a conclusion. The starting point is equal, but it’s not a presupposition at all. As for your first point, I’m not sure how the basic methodologies of science and theology are basically identical? I’d like to hear you elaborate on that point.

      “I disagree with your analysis here (unsurprisingly)…but I’m particularly taken aback by your suggestion that *Scripture* tells us that “the ideas of religion are clearly not delivered directly by a god”. Not to be cheeky or anything…but have you read the Bible?
      2 Timothy 3:16”

      Yeah, cheekiness is the last thing that will offend me. Don’t worry about it. As for Scripture – don’t just take what it says, but consider what words were used and what that says about the people who wrote it. People could believe or disbelieve a prophet, over and over again, but the God of the Bible doesn’t often speak directly to the entire planet or even most of the chosen people at once. Why is that? Yes, there are some instances where people say that a God spoke to them, but why not more often? And building on that point…ever since then, in modern times, where is God? There is hardly direct delivery, there are people like you and people like me arguing, and no direct message from God that speaks to either of us. Science and religion, it’s all human, as I keep arguing, but science accounts for this feature and religion acts like it’s more than human when there’s only a dubious connection (from what we can know and observe ourselves) to anything that isn’t human.

      I’m a bit tired of arguing about this right now and I just saw your last reply, so if I feel like it, I’ll respond to that later!

    • Yeah, sorry for adding that extra comment while you were responding; I went ahead and pasted it into my original response. Anyway…down to business:

      “*That* is where I am going with this argument. Not an assumption: a conclusion from the best available evidence.”

      I do follow what you’re saying here, but I don’t see how it changes my original point. The “science is superior to faith” argument relies on the presupposition (or “assumption”, or “conclusion” if you like) that God hasn’t directly influenced or contributed to human understanding. It doesn’t really matter what you call it…the point is that the argument relies upon it. For the majority of people in the world who don’t share that presupposition (or conclusion) – who instead presuppose (or conclude) that God *has* revealed himself to man – this “science is superior to faith” argument is utterly groundless. So I wasn’t specifically criticizing that presupposition (or conclusion) in my post…I was just pointing out that the atheist’s “science is superior to faith” argument is built upon a logical foundation that religious believers don’t share. If that makes sense. Sorry for the wordiness. 🙂

      “How infallible can the Bible be if people who believe in it can’t agree on its message? That’s a serious credibility issue right there.”

      Ah! I believe you’re confusing the infallibility of the Source with the fallibility of the believer. This is kind of like saying, “How accurate can quantum mechanics be if scientists can’t agree on whether the Copenhagen Interpretation, Many Worlds Interpretation, or Neorealist Interpretation is correct?”

      Even though the theory of quantum mechanics is probably the most air-tight scientific theory out there, scientists are still in significant disagreement over how to interpret it. Likewise, even though the Bible is infallible, Christians are in disagreement over how to interpret parts of it (just replace “Copenhagen”, “Many Worlds”, and “Neorealist” with “Protestant”, “Catholic”, and “Orthodox”). The point is that it’s not a Bible problem. It’s a human problem.

      “As for your first point, I’m not sure how the basic methodologies of science and theology are basically identical? I’d like to hear you elaborate on that point.”

      Certainly. My point was that science and theology are both systems for discovering truth. They both involve a rational, critical, and methodical evaluation of the evidence (fossils and enzymes and galaxies for science; sacred texts for theology). They both involve critique, collaboration, and debate among groups of highly-trained peers. They both have systems in place for uncovering new information and reconciling it with the current dogma (or revising said dogma). They have both, at times, been hijacked by pseudo-scientists and pseudo-theologians (heretics) who abuse their positions to promote false, often self-serving ideologies. I could go on, but hopefully you get my point. Theology essentially “does science”, but it does it on Scripture, history, and tradition rather than on the physical universe. Different starting points, same methodologies.

      “There is hardly direct delivery, there are people like you and people like me arguing, and no direct message from God that speaks to either of us.”

      What would you consider to be a direct message? Do you mean like a voice from the clouds, or a giant billboard on the moon? In my view, creation itself *is* this message (Romans 1:20). God has placed in each of us a “hole than cannot be filled by Earthly things”. Or to quote Lewis, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

      The “direct message” – or at least, one aspect of it – is Thoreau’s understanding that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” In my personal experience (supported by Matthew 7:7), this inner longing can be perfectly satisfied through Christ.

    • Hello again. Your FB mention makes me feel obligated to continue our conversation, haha – I don’t want to disappoint your audience.

      Anyway, I’m not sure how much I want to discuss the nature of faith, or defend the statements by atheists that you feel misrepresent faith. There’s just way too much that I want to say, and I’m not sure how well I can restrain myself. Certainly science is accountable to the natural world, to phenomena that is measured somehow. Where is the accountability in religious faith, on an intellectual level, in interpretation or in theology? If I take your word for it that your God gave humanity this Bible and this religion, Christianity, what could possibly undermine such ideas? You’re dangerously close to the idea that “Christianity is true because the Bible says so, the Bible is true because Christianity is true”. Religion interprets the world, if it does, in a religious light – science interprets the world, period, to find out what’s there. Where is the spirit of open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity, where is the willingness to be proven wrong, in religion? If you learn about science, you hear about scientific debates and failed ideas in the history of science…but how often do you go to church and hear about other sects of Christianity, other religions, or non-religious people, and hear their ideas presented equally and honestly in full detail? Science is committed to comparing ideas and finding out which ones work, based on what we know…religion takes it own premises and then seeks to find those things in the world which conform to premises and assumptions people already believe. So when you try to argue that people who prefer science to religion are using presuppositions and remain wedded to assumptions, it sounds like you’re arguing that science is no better than religion because it does what religion does: in fact, this is not the case, science is not like religion in this way, as I have painstakingly argued, and these are among the reasons I find science more credible than religious faith, and defend the statements by atheists that you believe are distortions.

      My idea, that we cannot say that a God directly influences human understanding, is a conclusion I have made and not an assumption I made originally. You may not believe this difference changes your argument, but it completely changes mine. I am arguing that science is not like religion because it honestly wants to be proven wrong, and religion just doesn’t have the capacity for that reversal built into its mechanisms like science does. The fact that I am not assuming a lack of divine involvement is the hinge of my entire argument. That most people in the world happen to disagree is of no consequence to that argument, because their beliefs do not change the observable differences between science and religion, and their beliefs do not change the lack of evidence that any God is directly behind religious ideas. If you learn about any religion, the path to God is long and torturous. You can find lots of people who says God is in their lives, but are they saying that because God really spoke directly to them, or because everybody else said that God was around and they just interpret their lives as if God is causing the meaning that happens anyway? Saying God is around when other explanations are available is just not impressive, especially since hearsay and anecdotes are generally recognized as poor evidence.

      Again, that religious believers don’t share a logical conclusion has no bearing on whether that conclusions hold truth.

      In my view, the fallibility of a source has a lot in common with the fallibility of a believer *when it comes to interpreting a source*. The better the source, the less fallible it is, the clearer and more meaningful the interpretation should be. A better source would have less need for a lack of human error. Quantum physics is true or false independent of what people believe, because there is some external standard that people who are qualified to determine (by a process we know as science) can determine. There’s no way to know about religion other than through people, who are prone to lots of mistakes and errors. Theology has no mechanism to correct those errors because there is no authoritative source — the farther you go, the more you reach humanity. Science has nature as an authoritative source, religion just has the words of other people which may or may not be true.

      I’ve said a lot already elaborating on the differences between science and religion, touching on theology’s failure to adequately uncover truth. I have no idea how theology involves a “rational, critical, and methodical evaluation of the evidence”. If you learn biology, physics, chemistry…you are trying to gain a more accurate understanding of the world — simple answers usually are more complicated as you go along, and it’s never enough to accept anything on face value. Where is the comparable work in religion? Theologians only learn about their own traditions, they don’t learn about other sects in their religion or other religions or even people who don’t believe in religion. That’s dramatically different than science, and greatly inadequate as a comparison for that reason. Theologians spend their lives justifying what they already know, scientists try to show why what they already know is insufficient! It’s entirely different, and I believe personally, that trying to show what you know is insufficient is vastly more reliable than trying to justify what you already know. Different starting points, and different methodologies.

      Yeah, laugh all you want, but I do consider a giant billboard on the moon, a code written in our DNA, accurate predictions about science in scriptures, etc. to be valid examples of a God directly communicating with humans. What we can currently observe about religions falls short of that, so at best a God is indirectly communicating, but there is no justification for claiming that a God has directly communicated with humans — sure, there are accounts, but the accounts are hearsay and their reliability is hardly established.

      Saying that creation itself is the message is hardly impressive to me, especially when all of creation shouts indifference in my ears. The track record of life on Earth is filled with so much prodigious suffering and cataclysmic extinctions that I see no rationale for supposing some divine being with an intelligent plan (and a loving being, too) would actually be the force responsible for life as we know it. And as far as the Lewis quote about desires which nothing in this world can satisfy — I have multiple problems with that quote. First, the existence of other religions. We’ve argued this before, and I know you believe that other religions just further shows that people have a desire to get in touch with God. I find that strange because that indicates to me that Christianity is not that special and rather superfluous: if Christianity were true, I’d expect that people wouldn’t find so much spiritual fulfillment in other religions but only in Christianity and that other faiths would make people feel empty and hollow compared to the truth of Christianity. Clearly, one billion adherents of Islam alone could tell you this is not the case! It’s no good if such a longing is perfectly satisfied in Christ…or by lots of other means. That smells fishy to me. Second, there are a lot of other reasons that people could have such a desire “that nothing in this world can satisfy”. I desire to have more control over my own mortality, but nothing can satisfy that. I don’t wish to live forever, but at least a hundred years would be nice. Better medical advancements could help somewhat, but it’s just a cold, hard fact that I’m going to die someday. My desire for a longer life does not necessarily imply that I’ll live somehow after I die any more than my desire to be rich and date someone who looks like Giselle Bundchen means that I was meant to be rich and date Giselle Bundchen, here or in some other world that I could imagine. It would be comforting for me to believe that, though.

    • “Quantum physics is true or false independent of what people believe, because there is some external standard that people who are qualified to determine (by a process we know as science) can determine. There’s no way to know about religion other than through people, who are prone to lots of mistakes and errors.”

      There’s a *major* double standard in this statement. You seem to be claiming that we can’t know about religion other than through people, who are prone to lots of mistakes and errors…but we *can* know about about quantum physics, because qualified scientists can evaluate its truthfulness or falsehood. But aren’t scientists….people?

      “Science has nature as an authoritative source, religion just has the words of other people which may or may not be true.”

      In my view: science has nature as an authoritative source; Christianity has the infallible Word of God (Scripture) as an authoritative source. Both of these sources are, by necessity, evaluated and interpreted by people, who are prone to mistakes and errors.

      “Theologians spend their lives justifying what they already know, scientists try to show why what they already know is insufficient!”

      I was completely stunned when I read this statement (and the rest of that paragraph). Do you really think this?

      Consider the great theologians: Aquinas, Augustine, Tozer, Spurgeon, Bonhoeffer, etc. How many of them have you read, personally? These were men who devoted themselves to the analytical study of Scripture, seeking to discover Truth…not simply reinforce their own opinions. Speaking personally, this is something that I also experience when I study Scripture (both alone and in the company of other Christians). It’s often an uncomfortable, even painful process: reading and re-reading passages, only to recognize that certain beliefs I once took for granted might need to be revised. Just within the last year, I’ve had to modify aspects of my worldview that have fallen victim to new information I’ve acquired from further study of Scripture. And based on my discussions with more mature Christians – those who have read the Bible dozens of times – this is a life-long process. It’s a constant journey of discovery, guided not only by Scripture, but by the Holy Spirit.

      I also think it’s appropriate here to pull an excerpt from one of the articles I linked to in my original post: “Today, I want to discuss another one of these claims, namely, that the fundamental beliefs of religious traditions, unlike those of the sciences, are not revisable in light of new evidence. There are several problems with this claim. First, it’s not clear what counts as a “fundamental belief” in the sciences. Theories, of course, change, or are replaced by other theories in light of new evidence or better theories that account for old evidence. But in either case, the scientific enterprise itself requires a commitment to first principles. The scientist, for example, must assume that nature exists, that it is intelligible, that simple and elegant theories should be preferred over ones with ad hoc hypotheses, and so forth. These are not deliverances of the sciences, but presuppositions that make the sciences possible. Thus, it is difficult to imagine what sort of “evidence” would require that we revise them. Second, the idea of doctrinal development – the progressive changing of beliefs over time in response to a variety of external and internal challenges and insights — is integral to both Protestant and Catholic Christianity, as well as to other faiths.”

      There are many who see the Church (or leadership figures within the Church) issuing statements of authority, and mistakenly assume that “religion” (and thus, “theology”) is all about trying to confirm one’s previously-held beliefs. One problem here, of course, involves the different roles being played by different religious people at different times (theologian, evangelist, instructor, etc.). It would be like someone associating all of “science” with what they heard from their high school chemistry teacher. If this teacher simply stated everything as fact, and distributed lists of terms and equations to memorize…then science must be all about reinforcing and regurgitating what’s already known! That’s basically what you’re doing here with theology. It’s an ugly caricature, but sadly one that I’ve encountered before.

      Finally, I ought to respond to your response to the Lewis quote (and feel free to respond to my response to your response…I might even respond!). As you mentioned, we’ve previously discussed our different views on how the existence of other world religions affects the validity of the claims of Christianity (https://wellspentjourney.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/deconstructing-a-common-cause-of-unbelief/).

      I should, nonetheless, point out the self-evident (to me, at least) fact that the mere existence of one billion adherents of Islam doesn’t serve as a strike against the credibility of Christianity any more than it serves as a strike against the credibility of atheism.

      On a more substantive note, I would point to the one key feature of Christianity that definitively distinguishes it from all the other world religions. It’s the idea of *God* reaching down to redeem *man*. Most world religions recognize man’s desperation, and seek to correct it by either working one’s way to heaven/paradise/etc (the Western method, taken broadly)…or by achieving nothingness/oblivion/etc (the Eastern method, taken broadly). Christianity asserts that God came down to redeem us, because we’re utterly incapable of redeeming ourselves. To quote Lewis yet again: ‎”In the Christian story God descends to reascend…He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.”

    • Sweet, it’s incredibly enlightening in showing how our faith and reason go hand in hand. Our faith should not be blind.

    • I love this part:

      “Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history. Anthropology, logic, the natural sciences, history, linguistics and so forth—the whole universe of knowledge has been involved in one way or another. Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being.”

  2. alex –

    ‘If what you said about direct delivery from God was true, who would disbelieve in your God? It would be truly impossible.’ it would not be impossible … because as has been stated by so many, and as you state clearly in your own comment – what God has revealed is always being reduced to being merely human interpretation, and therefore not considered credible.

    as for religious ideas being clearly delivered from God, you are right. He doesn’t intend to deliver ideas. He intends to reveal Himself, and His solution to man’s separation from Him, and His great love for us.

    as far as religion vs sciance dealing with human fallibility – i find from experience that those who stake their whole interpretaion of reality on science are very hard to disuade from what they believe, even if it’s errant, and even when some new evidence comes along to disprove a theory. there is much competition and friction in the scientific world, and often many differeing conclusions and interpretations. i also find that same element to be true concerning the religious world. most people, whatever they believe in, do not want or choose to be wrong. who sets out to be wrong? people don’t follow something wholeheartedly without some reasonalble belief that it’s sound.

    the real issue shouldnt be, ‘who is right?’ but rather ‘what is true?’. truth does not change. our understanding may change, our information may change. mine has several times in the years i have been walking with God. therefore one needs a consistant rule of measure that one can always check one’s facts against. one cannot build a house of any worth if one’s rule of measure is not accurate, true, and consistant. 12 inches will always be 1 foot. always. 100 centimeters will always be 1 meter. always. 60 seconds will always be 1 hour. always. just as science has to measure what is found and discovered against certain unchangable laws of physics, and possibly learn new laws previously unknown – laws which do not change, and which show us how to properly interpret what is found, so do believers have a plumb line that does not change, against which to measure what is promoted, to see if it is right (Acts10:11). there is lots of error out there. people make mistakes. but what is true remains true. it doesn’t change.

    i agree with matt. i see the things discovered in science, and the very laws of science, only confirming what that Plumb Line i read everyday saying. in 31 years i have yet to see a contradiction.
    k☼

  3. Pingback: Flotsam & Jetsam (9/4) | the Ink Slinger

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