Science and religion have a friendship nobody sees

Brian Kutzley and Brian Kutzley

There seems to be an ongoing battle on which is superior, science or religion. This debate has reached an all time low on these pages, complete with personal attacks and extremist claims. So it gives me no small pleasure to assure these contestants that you’re all wrong. And you’re wrong because you’re making an assumption which is as popular as it is flawed: That there is some inherent contest between religion and science. If there is such a contest, it is only between the most extreme elements of each.

Let’s remember that Christianity first reached prominence in an empire highly influenced by the natural philosophy (the field that would evolve into modern science) of the Ancient Greeks. In fact, two of Catholicism’s best known saints, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, were canonized at least in part for their reconciliation of reason and faith, specifically pertaining to the works of the pagans Plato and Aristotle.

In truth, Christianity embraced science from the beginning. The reasoning is simple: Humans are too flawed to see God, and therefore must view him indirectly through his creation. And to say that literal interpretations of the Bible impeded scientific inquiry is no more to the point than saying the same of stubborn adherence to Aristotle. In truth, the same impediments can be found today, as scientific communities flock to the authoritative voice.

To complete my point, let’s turn to Galileo, the supposed black mark on the Catholic Church. High schools teach that Galileo was forced to repent because he taught a system contrary to the accepted cosmology of the Church. In truth, however, Galileo had carte blanche to teach his system, so long as he also taught the traditional theory. Galileo not only ignored this request, but formally mocked the beliefs of the church. If this event is the origin of the theoretical schism between religion and science it might be interesting to note who delivered the first blow.

However, my purpose is not to assign blame. I feel that the presence of the Aristotelian method throughout the history of Christendom is proof enough that the two studies can coincide. Instead I would like to argue that the two are mutually dependent.

Johannes Kepler is famous for publishing the laws of planetary motion, and was the first to discover that planets orbited in slightly elliptical patterns. Here’s the rest of the story: Kepler’s Laws (as they’re now called) were not published as such. They were published amidst volumes of musical composition and religious dedications. In fact, the only reason Kepler developed the law on equal area in equal time was because his faith in God was such that he was compelled to find the inherent perfect geometry in the system. The triumph of secular astronomy is quite appropriately a result of religious piety.

Albert Einstein posited that, “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Without an understanding of the Creator, Kepler would have been effectively paralyzed, and without its belief in natural philosophy the church would have collapsed in on its own superstition. This is not to say that all scientists must believe in God. However it is absurd if not outright contemptible for a rational individual to state absolutely that the Bible is flawed and God cannot exist. If nothing else, this proclamation flies in the face of scientific inquiry – which is built on evidence, not the lack thereof.

Religion is a paradigm: It provides a basic understanding of life and purpose, and it successfully reconciles all experience and data. “Secular” (read: Atheist) scientists have a prevailing religious paradigm of their own. This paradigm is based on incomplete and inconclusive evidence of a Big Bang and random (read: Unguided). Ironically, this religion of atheists provides as many questions as it does answers.

So as my concluding statement, let me paraphrase Einstein. Scientists who would reject even the possibility of a greater being are not only violating their own principles, but are also crippling their ability to understand the natural world. And Christians – all religious individuals for that matter – who refuse to look at scientific inquiry and focus exclusively on Biblical study, have no chance of ever seeing the true nature or glory of God.