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Ask the Patriarch 152
Science & Religion

from: Christian

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This site really hits home with me, and it is very interesting to read.

Being agnostic,people always ask me why? how? etc.

You know, no one really knows anything about religion because there is only a book. The Constitution has been amended many times, but the Bible...not once.

Controversy continues to swirl over this literature in modern day.

But another reason for being agnostic is scientific research.

Science has proved so many things (Gravity, atoms, DNA, etc.)and recently Hubble Telescope discovery of these galaxies we never knew existed have blown my mind. I am curious to hear what you think about science with religion and the role it plays, if any, on being an apathetic agnostic.

Thank you for your time

and great site!

Christian

The Patriarch replies:

Christian:

Thank you for writing, and for your compliments

I am not convinced that science necessarily brings people to agnosticism, though I'm sure it does set some on the right path.

My own agnosticism arose out of the recognition that there were a multitude of different Christian denominations, and a multitude of different religions all preaching that they possessed the real truth. I realized that they could not all be right, and quite probably none of them were. So, it was not science that made me agnostic; religion did.

But what about science and religion - can they coexist?

On one extreme there are the fundamentalists who claim they have access to the unchanging Truth. In the event that science provides a different answer than their holy texts, the holy texts are always right.

At the other extreme are those, such as Richard Dawkins, who consider science and religion so incompatible that religion should be eliminated.

At neither extreme is coexistence between science and religion possible, nor is reasoned discussion between believers and non-believers.

But in between there are numerous believers who manage to accept both science and religion. The Dalai Lama once said that if science demonstrated that one of his beliefs was wrong he would have to change that belief. More common is to accept science, and to revise the interpretation of holy text to a metaphorical truth rather than a literal truth. This permits most of the traditional Christian churches to accept the Big Bang and most of evolution[1] without having to throw out Genesis.

Religion and science can coexist - but it requires an open mind.

Footnote:

  1. Most churches which have come to terms with evolution still have God sticking his finger in the process, particularly either to create man - or at least, to provide a soul once the desired evolutionary point has been reached.