MLK Jr on Science and Religion

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Strength to Love, a collection of Martin Luther King Junior’s sermons. One topic MLK Jr very eloquently spoke on was the relationship between science and religion. For some, both believers and skeptics, there is a direct conflict.

Strict materialists hold matter and motion as the ultimate reality (and metaphysical truth is highly suspect). At the other end, the “scientific holdouts” of the religious persuasion find the supernatural as the ultimate reality (and scientific truth is highly suspect). But to MLK Jr, there are both physical and metaphysical truths; science and religion are different methods/enterprises. One, without the other, is insufficient.

In his words:

“This had also led to a widespread belief that there is a conflict between science and religion. But this is not true. There may be a conflict between soft-minded religionists and tough-minded scientists, but not between science and religion. Their respective worlds are different and their methods are dissimilar. Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge that is power; religion gives man wisdom that is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralysing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.” [1]


[1] King, Martin Luther, and Coretta Scott King. 2010. Strength to Love. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. 4

Image credit: Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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