“Science and religion are like oil and water. They just don’t mix.”
“You have to choose: You can either love God or you can love science. You can’t love them both.”
Those are the kind of confusing things we often hear from skeptics. And it’s simply not true. It’s a false dichotomy. We don’t have to choose between our faith and science.
In this series, we will look at some of the reasons why.
Many in our day insist faith and science are incompatible. Science is about this world and religion is about another world, they reason. Science is about understanding the world from the bottom up, studying the world we can see, touch, smell, measure, predict, and often control. Religion is about simply receiving doctrine from above. How can the two be friends?
This kind of thinking assumes religion has nothing to say about the natural world. It also assumes that science is free from any assumptions about the universe that direct study and limit conclusions.
Both assumptions are false.
The atheistic philosopher Daniel Dennett once said, “There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” Dennett is responding to the idea that scientists are blank slates who only concern themselves with physical facts. Every scientist brings a set of assumptions about the world to his or her scientific study.
Many academic scientists who teach in secular universities today are atheists. That means they bring a set of atheistic assumptions to their research that limit what they theories they will consider plausible. The Harvard professor Richard Lewontin once unwittingly gave a very candid admission on this very point:
“ . . . we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a prioriadherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
If you begin with atheism, you obviously will conclude that science and faith are incompatible. As we will discuss in a later video post, the scientific method grew out of a set of Christian assumptions about the universe, that the world is not an accident, and that there exists discoverable laws that govern the world because it is the creation of a Law Giver.