Religion and open doors to science
Lately here some have said that religion and science are incompatible. It seems a shame to me that many think this way.
From challenges since, I've admitted I feel comfortable attending church while believing in evolution; I believe humans are animals; and feel free to accept or reject religious information as it suits me.
I add that Christianity and Islam are not attempting to shut down science . . . . In fact, we should praise religions for opening doors to new knowledge with the many higher-learning institutions they have provided through the ages.
Resistance comes mainly from dogmatic fundamentalism. It seems this has always been the case.
But please don't get the idea that anti-science views belong solely to faith-bound fundamentalists. They can be seen in many of the anti-climate change responses directed at me.
Natural philosophy was science when fifth century North African Christian Bishop St Augustine of Hippo proclaimed Genesis was written for the people of the day and there was a fuller meaning to the words of the bible.
Nowadays Roman Catholics and mainstream denominations preach that there is no conflict with science.
Hindus believe in evolution and science.
Sikh Gurus preach that devotion must be rooted in thought, contemplation and knowledge, otherwise it leads to blind faith, superstitions and hypocrisy.
Baha'i Faith scripture asserts that true science and true religion can never be in conflict. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá said religion without science was superstition, and science without religion was materialism.
Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of nature.
Traditional Chinese: Confucianism and science are fundamentally compatible.
Islam from the 9th-12th century saw a renaissance in science, known as the Islamic Golden Age. The study of nature is linked to the concept of Tawhid (the Oneness of God).
In Judaism, questioning is encouraged. In fact, Jewish scholars have the greatest percentage of science-based Nobel prize winners of all peoples.
It is sadly true that in the early Middle Ages science progress stalled in Christian Europe for a few centuries, but that was more than compensated by the growth of Islam spawning a golden age of science in the 7th century. There were great advances in mathematics, astronomy and other sciences thanks to Moslem culture.
Then the 13th century came and science began to filter back into Western Europe.
Dominican scholar Thomas Aquinas famously reopened the question of the relationship between faith, reason and truth. There were also the great scientists Bishop Robert Grosseteste, Franciscan monk Roger Bacon, and many others.
Even the unjust purges and infamous inquisition of early 17th-century Europe couldn't halt the progress of science.
Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei had books printed — later banned, but never lost.
Right until the eighteenth century, scientists of deep religious faith as well as learning kept the science ball rolling.
The 17th century produced Isaac Newton, a key figure of the Scientific Revolution who was deeply religious.
In the 19th century Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel hit on the mechanism of heredity that had eluded Charles Darwin. It was found later that both works complemented each other.
Last century, Belgian Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre formulated the modern Big Bang theory.
This century Christianity has former science student Pope Francis urging all of humanity to embrace science in his 2015 environment encyclical insisting all humanity protect nature and act aggressively on climate change.
“The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.” — Thomas H. Huxley
However, I believe also that humanity has in recent times used science badly, bringing many problems upon ourselves and the world. I'll save that for a later column.