The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Faith and Science: Work Together ... Please

In the paper today was another in a series of tedious articles in which a driven individual is determined to prove his or her side right and the other side filled with utter fools. In this case, the driven individual is a scientist with evidence that apes share our moral sensibilities, therefore God is not needed for morality, and therefore God does not exist. So there! Sigh.

Come on guys. Science has done a wonderful job proving we're not nearly as unique as we once thought we were and some small portion of the faithful still think we are. For most of us among the faithful this is not news, nor is it faith shaking. That apes may have morals may remove us a bit further from the old image of us being special beings between the animals and the angels (and I'm glad for that little grounding in humility), but it hardly disproves God. In fact, it speaks to God's initial judgment that the creation is good, at least from my point of view. I'm glad to hear it.

I could come up with arguments on the other side as well ... but frankly, I find the whole thing tremendously dull. Wouldn't it be more exciting to work together? Wouldn't we get further along if we stopped distrusting each other and trying to prove our version of faith is stronger than the other guys (faith in science or the divine) and actually rolled up our sleeves and worked toward common goals we share? We're all concerned about the place we call home (well, most of us are). We all want the best for our families and our descendants. We all believe life is a wonderful and mysterious thing worth caring for and that we can do better by humanity than we have done so far. Wouldn't that be a better use of our time and our sizable brains (not the biggest [thanks again science], but sizable)?

As a scholar with feet in both worlds (trained in archaeology and theology), I turn to research for inspiration and direction. In Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor's book The Luminous Web: Essays on Science and Religion, the author contends, as I have stated, that all attempts to understand reality begin with leaps of faith in one form or another. She states:
Every effort to understand reality begins with a leap of faith: the acceptance of a certain point of view, the adoption of a certain set of symbols. Whichever ones we choose, there does not, at this moment in time, seem to be any way around the experience of awe.
There, Taylor gives us another thing we have in common. We all thrill in the awe we feel in the face of this amazing universe and the lives we live in it.

Rather than arguing with each other and disrespecting each others' positions (all the rage these days I know, but let's be countercultural shall we ... walk on the wild side ... or in religious terms be "holy," which means "other.") and admire what we offer each other, even if we do it begrudgingly. Returning to Taylor:
... a dialogue between science and religion offers each discipline a check on its hubris. While science disputes religion's certainty that purpose is built into creation, religion challenges science's certainty that such purpose is impossible. 
Can we just grow up enough to admit that each side, science and religion, grapples with issues that the other is ill-equipped to handle? Working together, accepting that each side has value and is filled with decent, well intentioned human beings and not horrid ogres and trolls, we can do an awful lot and bring a much fuller and more beautiful vision of life to a suffering humanity. How about simply being an "us" rather than an "us vs them?" After all, we both do respond to life and the universe we find ourselves in with awe.


If you want to see why it may be a very good thing we do not get easy answers in this life, please see:

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