Monday, May 31, 2010

Science and Belief in God - Can These Two Coexist?

 There is much discussion about the percentages of scientists that are atheists vs the general public and/or whether it is possible to be both a Christian and a scientist.  I found this speech by Henry F Schaefer III to be quite dispositive.  Here was his concluding paragraph and following that the link.

There is a tremendous tradition of distinguished scientists who were and are Christians. I hope that my work is considered sufficiently outstanding to fall into the distinguished among that category. I also hope I have given you enough evidence that you will never again believe that it is impossible to be a scientist and a Christian.

By the way, he cites one study showing the same % of PHD scientists in church each week as the general public.  (about 43%)


Bernardo said...

Priesthood and pedophilia can coexist, and often do. That doesn't mean that one of those things isn't antithetical to the other.

That having been said, I am an accomodationist. I too believe that it is perfectly possible to care about the "How?" questions for a living, and to devote every Sunday and spare moment to also asking the "Why?" questions. As long as a scientist believes that their particular domain of study is not actively influenced by supernatural forces, I don't see a problem.

A scientist must be a naturalist about the phenomena they study. Phenomena must be caused by other phenomena, must be a mechanical and repeatable consequence of a previous state. "Spirits did it" won't get you tenure or published papers (not with reputable institutions). But there's no reason why a scientist can believe "Spirits did it" about other things, or even about their own area of research as long as this belief doesn't drive their investigations.

Randy Kirk said...

If it weren't for some of the first scientists believing that natural forces stayed constant because of the mind of the Supernatural force, there would have been no science. If the rules change, we can't study it. Not bringing the issue of the constancy of nature into the argument of how nature works is absurd.

Bernardo said...

You're assuming that you need an omnipotent intentional intelligence in order to "keep" the rules constant. Why is that necessarily true? We (Newton!) thought we needed an mnipotent intentional intelligence in order to "keep" the planets of the solar system all on the same plane, then we understood how this automatically happens with no divine help needed.

So, again: You can assume that [whatever] is the case because God is interfering with the universe to make it so, or you can assume that [whatever] is the case because automatic mechanisms naturally bring it about, causally. Making the second assumption is what has allowed us to learn (and use) all kinds of cool properties of the universe and of the stuff in it. I don't want to make assumptions that would prevent me from learning (and using) more.

Anonymous said...

I think one who studies science should never believe there is a god. If they do there would be limit to their research.Limit by their own believes