I love science. I also love studying the Bible and questions of faith. That’s why it frustrates me to see so much disconnect between the two. Our culture is a minefield of taboos because certain controversial subjects are difficult to discuss. What are we to do? Should we be controversial, avoid controversy altogether, or perhaps do something else.
The science/religion controversy has been around from when Moses confronted Pharaoh’s wise men to the Scope’s Trial. Religion was particularly oppressive during the European Middle Ages, and science has held a grudge ever since. Ben Stein produced the 2008 film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” about the academic persecution of teachers who support Intelligent Design. Is this revenge? We certainly don’t need to look far to find controversy.
In 1997, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay proposing a solution as “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” or NOMA. His idea was based on Pope Pius XII’s 1950 acceptance of the possible evolution of the human body, as long as it did not deny the possible existence of the soul. NOMA says that science should stay in the area of science and religion should stay in the area of religion. The idea of non-interference and mutual respect has been widely accepted. For decades, most churches have been good about “minding their own business”.
The problem, however, has not gone away. Richard Dawkins, for instance, disagrees with NOMA because miracles are purported to happen in the physical world. He points out, rightly, that science and religion do overlap. Pretending that there exists a material realm and a moral realm that can be friends is an illusion. Truth and reality should apply to everything equally.
To me, the problem is evident. Science and religion both have a problem of pride. They both want to control more than they have a right to. The prerequisite to objectivity is to admit our pride and relinquish any personal agenda. Only then we can apply the scientific method and good historical analysis to all things. This is a deep subject, but I’m hopeful because more and more writers are rejecting NOMA and describing a reality that explains more than just the material world.
How do I apply that? One way is to not look at the Bible as merely a religious book. When I read through the Bible, I purposely look for relevant issues, and what I have found has been life-changing. Science and faith are everywhere and interwoven in everything we do. Superstition and bias are a part of the scientific community as well as the religious community. There’s not that much difference. That’s exactly what I find in reading about the history of mankind in the Bible.