Religious professionals ...
Seeking Your Help in Reconciling
Science & Religion
Professional clergy (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, etc.) are respectfully requested to provide Dr. Dana a statement that defines how the tenets of their faith may be reconciled with settled scientific evidence. Your unedited statements will be published here and in future editions of The Reason Revolution. Details below.
People of faith are asked to forward this request (web link) to their religious leaders.
Important note: The term "theory," as used here, is defined as an explanation based on evidence, as distinct from its popular usage as a speculative hypothesis. Religious believers may consider their divinely inspired holy book as satisfactory evidence, whereas scientists rely primarily, if not solely, on empirical evidence drawn from the natural, physical, material universe. Therefore, a "science vs. religion reconciliation theory" contains evidence, satisfactory to the person proposing the theory, that explains how the basic tenets of one's religious doctrine (such as a supernatural deity and a non-material afterlife) may rationally coexist with empirical evidence accepted as valid by scientists.
The following material is adapted from The Reason Revolution: Atheism, Secular Humanism, and the Collapse of Religion, a short, FREE e-book available here. You will need to read the e-book (less than 30 minutes), especially the "Reasons for Skepticism" section, to understand the sample reconciliation theories below.
In Search of Reconciliation Theories
How can faith in the supernatural be reconciled with natural science, particularly the science-based reasons for skepticism summarized in The Reason Revolution? The facts presented in the e-book are "settled" science, meaning they are supported by sufficient empirical evidence to be regarded as factual by the majority of scientists specializing in that particular field. Below are ways people of faith commonly attempt to resolve inconsistencies between science and religion.
The most common science vs. faith reconciliation theories:
- The science supporting some or all of the reasons for skepticism might be correct, but faith provides comfort for people and is therefore important to maintain, even if belief is unfounded in fact and incompatible with settled science. (Editor: A person holding this view may be a nonbelieving atheist while also practicing the faith for its humanitarian value.)
- Science has not advanced sufficiently to discover the existence of God, heaven, and other realities that are revealed in the holy book. (Editor: The Bible, Torah, Quran, and more than fifteen other religious texts are believed by various faiths to be divinely inspired). Future scientific discoveries will confirm realities that are currently accepted on faith alone. Therefore, deities and afterlives are part of the natural universe and eventually will be determined by science to not be supernatural.
- The (correct) holy book is the only source of truth. To the extent there are incompatibilities between teachings in the holy book and science, science must be wrong, even if it appears rational. Followers of faiths that do not accept the authority of the (my) holy book are infidels.
- Science is invalid as a way of knowing what is true. Scientific findings such as those reported in The Reason Revolution as reasons for skepticism are irrelevant to the search for truth.
- Science is the work of Satan, a temptation designed to lure the faithful away from God. Scientists are false prophets, and so the reasons for skepticism listed in The Reason Revolution are false.
- A higher (supernatural) reality exists that scientific methods are incapable of examining and that is accessible only through faith. The apparent correctness of the reasons for skepticism listed in The Reason Revolution is an illusion.
- God is simply another term for the physical and chemical laws of the universe — a belief known as pantheism. God is not a supernatural being and there is no spiritual afterlife. Therefore, there is no conflict between religion and science. (Editor: This definition of God blurs, and renders meaningless, the distinction between religion and science. Pantheism might serve as a semantic convenience to avoid admitting that one is an atheist, a term often viewed as pejorative in the general population.)
- Philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences are all parts of an intellectual toolkit enabling humanity to probe the mysteries of existence. Without needlessly discarding older beliefs simply because they are older or because their methods differ, each person can consider new data and integrate the best available information into a coherent personal worldview. (Editor: This reconciliation theory contends that all knowledge, including both settled science and religious belief, is tentative and therefore subject to revision as further supporting evidence is gained and new knowledge is established. So, it is premature to conclude that science and religion are irreconcilable.)
- Agnosticism — recognizing the essential unknowability of truth — is the only logical position in the debate between religion and science. Scientific findings such as the reasons for skepticism listed in The Reason Revolution are valid, yet it remains impossible to prove that deities, an afterlife, and other supernatural realities do not exist (known in logic as proving the null hypothesis). (Editor: Most atheists, while technically agnostic, regard religion as man-made, since science-based explanations for the emergence of mythical beliefs, due to known human psychological and sociological processes, are more plausible than is the possibility that religious myths have any basis in objective reality.)
The foregoing reconciliation theories are not mutually exclusive, and the list is certainly not exhaustive. I look forward to receiving additional or better-defined statements that describe how believers' faith positions reconcile with science.
How to prepare a better reconciliation theory:
- Carefully review the nine reasons for skepticism listed in The Reason Revolution to ensure your full understanding of them.
- If possible, select the single reconciliation theory listed above that most closely approximates your doctrine's approach to reconciling your faith with the science reported in the reasons for skepticism.
- Revise the selected reconciliation theory to reflect your approach more accurately. Please limit your statement to 100 words.
- If your personal reconciliation theory is categorically different from the all those presented above, prepare another theory to be added to the list. Again, limit your statement to 100 words.
- Send your text by email to atheism (at)dandana (dot)us. Please indicate whether I have your permission to include your name in the Acknowledgements section of the revised edition.
Thank you in advance for your contributions, which will be included on this web page and in future editions of The Reason Revolution.