How to think about science and God (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, April 14, 2022, 17:31 (685 days ago)

Properly handled there is no fight:

"Science is more accessible than ever, yet it remains foreign to most people. The problem is that many people perceive science as an enterprise devoid of emotion and meaning. Science, in this view, is the enemy of faith. When science is seen as an expression of our need to make sense of existence, many more will embrace it.


"I will give an example of how I came to realize this problem in my own life. About twenty years ago, I did a live interview for a radio station in Brasília, the capital of Brazil.


"It was inspired by a book I had just published, The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Science and the End of the World. The book focuses on cataclysmic celestial events and how they have inspired religious narratives as well as scientific research. By cataclysmic, I mean asteroid or comet collisions, like the one that accelerated the extinction of dinosaurs; stars exploding and collapsing into neutron stars and black holes; or the fate of the Universe as a whole, either expanding forever, or shrinking back into a singularity.


"I mentioned how 65 million years ago, the collision of an asteroid six miles wide into Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs. I made a point of explaining how that event changed the history of life on Earth, freeing small mammals from predator pressure while resetting the planet’s evolutionary drive — a long story that finally brought humans into the game some 200,000 years ago. My point was that no divine intervention was needed to explain these episodes in our planetary history. The processes are natural, not supernatural.

"It was then that a hand went up from a small man with torn clothes and grease stains on his face: “So the doctor wants to take even God away from us?”

"I froze. The despair in that man’s voice was apparent. He felt betrayed, as if the ground had just been taken from beneath his feet. His faith was the one thing he held on to, the one thing that gave him strength to come back to that bus station every day to work for a humiliatingly low wage. If I took God away from his world and offered instead the rational argumentation of science, with its methodology of empirical validation, what would that even mean to him? How would it help him go forward with his life? How could science teach him to cope with life in a world without the magic and comfort of supernatural belief?

"I realized then how far we scientists are from the needs of most people; how far removed our discourse is from those who do not already look to science for answers, as most of you reading this essay do. I realized that to reach a larger audience — to bring the wonders of science to a much larger slice of the population — we must start from the youngest age with an outstanding science education, one filled with wonder and discovery.

"We must inspire a sense of awe about the natural world, showing how our science illuminates our search for meaning. We must teach that science has a spiritual dimension — not in the sense of supernaturalism, but in the way it connects us to something bigger than we are. The bridge is our need to connect with the mystery of who we are. Faith and science both address this need, albeit from different perspectives.


"I answered the man, in a shaky voice, that science does not want to take God away from people, even if some scientists do. I told him that science explains how the world works, revealing the wonders of the Universe big and small, for all to share and appreciate. I went on to explain that scientific research is a passionate enterprise, one that brings us closer to Nature, to the mysteries we still face as we try to understand more of the Universe and our place in it. The man smiled. He did not say anything, but I knew that he identified in the scientific drive for understanding the same passion that drove him toward his faith. He understood that there is room in our lives for both science and faith, if that is the choice we make. Science does not have an interest in taking faith away from people." (My bold)

Comment: I am that scientist/author. The difference is I have a great store of scientific knowledge and use it to explain how I think God did His work in producing us and our reality.

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