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Science and Religion: Kiss And Make-Up

The science and religion debate rages on, round and round, back and forth. There’s a trending twist though. Those on the side of science are adding an economic argument. Whereas before most just pointed their fingers and called the religious stupid, many are now adding, “and I’m tired of paying for it!”

The attacks on the religious come from many sources (e.g., social elites, the media, academia), and there is certainly a lot of fodder. The Judea-Christian biblical worldview and educational philosophy often runs counter to common sense, observation, and basic scientific study. Add a conservative Christian school’s view and it makes headlines.

A recent event that has folks up in arms is that a conservative Christian school in Louisiana is arguably using the Loch Ness monster in a science class to debunk the theory of evolution. While the story makes for great headlines and advertising revenue, this type of media is a tad biased – even if the school is off base.

When discussing religion and science, we have to discuss worldview. When I was a devout atheist, I created my arguments, supported them by evidence, and made my case. I based it on science, philosophy, historical evidence, religious texts and more. I argued for years that God did not exist. It was my belief system. My wife used to gently remind me that what I had was an interesting worldview.

At the time, I was not able to see past my own belief system to understand that my belief system was just that – a belief system. It had its holes and flaws. It had its pros and cons. It had it truths and questions.

What should the religious do to counter such forceful opposition by the scientific community and its followers? An interesting question the religious might gently ask is, “why are we teaching kids science without the proper understanding of its limitations?” Why are kids subjected to a belief system without first knowing the framework in which it operates?

One could go on. Why are we paying taxes for a math curriculum that doesn’t work? Why do we pay to have our kids subjected to a reward system that does little to stimulate their actual interests? Why are our kids made to answer to a bell, or have to ask permission to use the bathroom, or be required to sit still for an hour when adults don’t even want to do that? Hey, if we want to start asking questions…

To be clear, I’m not making an argument against education – although it’s an easy target. Rather, I’m pointing out that science has its own belief system. So does religion. Each side may take issue with the other, as is their right. This is indeed what makes this country pretty cool. But if we start hammering away at the religious, the folks who started the whole freedom thing, we will simply enslave ourselves solely to the wisdom of science.

Science is great. Love it. But we exalt science as the ultimate truth when it is merely a kid playing in a sandbox. Science says check out what this sand does, this is cool! Do you know if we do this, sand will do that. Hey, I wonder if I can make a silicon chip out of this stuff? This is wonderful!

Religion is just another kid in the sand box. Religion prefers to relate to the force that made such a cool sandbox in the first place. Religion says what’s my purpose in the sandbox? Can I get to know the maker of the sand box, and what does that mean? This is wonderful!

Religious people can do stupid things. They can be hypocritical, judgmental, extreme, and come off as real jerks. They very often misinterpret their own texts and thus fail to even come close to its ideals.

Science, by its never-ending digging, can poison the very sand it explores. Scientists develop pills that promise to help us, but end up killing us. And they keep modifying our food. The list goes on.

It’s important to listen to those who understand the limitations and the framework of science, and question those who exalt it on high. It’s equally important to respect those who explore the spiritual aspects, and question those who claim to have all the answers.

We can all play nicely in the sandbox. Or we can continue throwing sand in each other’s face. It’s our choice.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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  1. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein says it all for me: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I don’t struggle with much of science because I love how it often ends up showing me the marvelous “how” of God’s creation. But I do wish there was a greater willingness to use the actual complete name; it is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Not fact of, not law of, but theory of. Because when we use that term, we leave an opening for possibilities which may lead to new conclusions or different understandings. Without it, scientists are forced to continue in only one direction and try to make all data fit the desired results, even when they don’t. In the end, science is not supposed to be about proving oneself right as much as it about discovering what is, and how, and ultimately, why.

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