Three issues are guaranteed to bring zealots (on all sides) out of the woodwork: abortion, gay marriage, and evolution. This week’s “Texas Faith” question on the DMN Religion Blog is variation on the third. It asks “How would you make a case for mutual engagement between science and religion?”
The panelists gave mostly good answers, while the comments have quickly become polarized. Here’s part of my comment:
Religion and science both seek truth, but they approach it from different perspectives. Science seeks objective, verifiable, material truth. Religion seeks subjective, believable, spiritual truth. Science tells us “what” and “how,” religion tells us “why” and what it means. We need both. We need the knowledge and material benefits that comes from learning how the natural world works, and we need the inspiration and meaning that comes from our myths, rituals, and experience of wonder and awe.
Fundamentalists of both sides will never admit it, but there are limits to what we can truly know through either science or religion. None of us have the whole picture, and, I think, we never will.
“Mutual engagement,” then, begins with the acceptance that religion and science are two sides of the same coin, and the humility of both sides to admit it doesn’t have all the answers.
Last week, I wrote “maybe, the magic worked” – and I’m convinced it did. Not that my working caused the change, but that it affected the situation for the better. Magic doesn’t fix the odds, but it does improve the odds – I’m sure of it. Still, I have enough training in science to understand why most people can’t accept that it’s anything more than wishful thinking.
This, I think, is the challenge for believers and practitioners of all religions. We need to act as though our beliefs are completely true, even as we have the humility to admit we may be wrong, and the courage to change our beliefs if they’re shown to be wrong.