News - November 3, 2011

Proposition: Science and religion go together just fine


For and against

Marlies: Science is based on what can be observed and studied through observation and experiments. Belief in God is about something which is not physically observable. Seen this way, the two cannot even conflict with each other.
I often get the impression nowadays that science plays such a big role in our western world that people automatically assume anything that cannot be scientifically proven doesn't exist. A strange way of reasoning, because science will always be limited to what is observable. So you cannot possibly say anything about whether non-observable things might or might not exist as well.
The fact that we cannot demonstrate that God doesn't exist does not of course mean that he definitely does exist. But I think there are other good reasons for believing in God. Our inner morality, for example, and people's tendency to look for the meaning of everything, and the life and witness of Jesus.
Jillis responds: From the point of view of evolution, there are advantages to religious faith. In fact, that is the funniest thing about it really: people who don't believe in evolution and do believe in God have an evolutionary advantage. It gets them through times of difficulty, when agnostics die off. I am not so keen on the argument about the morality of believers. Must have to do with what's going on in the world these days.

Jillis: Science and religion are at opposite poles of course. Whereas science revolves round finding proof of theories and hypotheses, religion does not get any further than ‘it is true, because I believe it'. However improbable it might seem, in practice there are apparently plenty of capable scientists with a religious faith. That two such completely different worlds can come together like this could be seen as a miracle (of His?) It seems that these people are able to flick a switch, thinking rationally at their work, and then switching off their brains in their private lives to believe in some fairy tale or other for which not a shred of evidence has been found in more than two thousand years. Of course everyone should be free to decide for themselves and as long as I don't get too many of those pushy Jehovah's Witnesses at the door, it's all fine by me. The main thing is for a scientist like that to understand his own subject.
Marlies responds: As I said, faith cannot by definition be scientifically proven. But that doesn´t mean that people switch off their brains - as I hope is clear from my own piece. True enough, science and faith are two worlds, which can come together and each tell part of the truth - science the how and religion the why. Perfect, isn't it?