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RationalBeliever
 
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Compatibility of Science and Religion

25 September 2012, 08:19

After this article, you won't be able to argue that science and religion (even evolution) are not compatible.

There is always a huge debate on this forum about this topic:

* On the one hand, many Christians (especially those who interpret Genesis 1 and 2 literally) are against evolution and - unfortunately due to that perspective - sometimes even turn against science!

* On the other hand, atheists ride this wave of opportunity and try to fan the flames of controversy to make it SEEM as if one has to choose evolution (and sometimes even science) AGAINST faith in the narrative Bible. They subliminally advance the false reasoning of "if you believe in evolution, you cannot be a Christian".

Many clergy also fall for the trap by preaching against the "heresy of evolution", thereby perpetuating the division.

This apparent division between science and the message of the Bible is ONE BIG LIE!

I have been looking for a good summary to describe this compatibility, and I found an article in the US National Academy of Sciences that explains it extremely well.

I quote from an article "Compatibility of Science and Religion" (which can be found at www.nationalacademies.org/evolution/Compatibility.html):

"Science is not the only way of knowing and understanding. But science is a way of knowing that differs from other ways in its dependence on empirical evidence and testable explanations. Because biological evolution accounts for events that are also central concerns of religion — including the origins of biological diversity and especially the origins of humans — evolution has been a contentious idea within society since it was first articulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in 1858.

Acceptance of the evidence for evolution can be compatible with religious faith. Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.

Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world. Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an explanation eventually must lead to modification or even abandonment of that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities. Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist."

(My highlights and quoted from From Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. © 2008 National Academy of Sciences)

Bottom line:

* To the Christians on this forum, I would like to say that they should understand that the "Book of God's Word" (the Bible) and the "Book of God's Works" (nature, his creation) can be held firmly together in harmony.

* To that I want to add: do not let atheists put you on the intentionally misguided path that, if you start believing in evolution, you are on the way to becoming an atheist and going to hell. That is a LIE!

* To atheists on this forum, I want to say: stop perpetuating the idea that evolution is incompatible with Christianity - and, in effect, forcing Christians to think that they have to choose between evolution or their faith. That is a LIE!

I want to suggest good places for Christians (and even atheists) to look into the matter:

Books:

- "ORIGINS: A Reformed look at Creation, Design & Evolution", by Haarsma and Haarsma. This book provides a good overview of the issues in the title.

- "Creation or Evolution" Do we have to choose?" by Denis Alexander, the director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund's College, Cambridge, a molecular biologist and an author on science and religion. This book is a slightly technical treatment on evolution, but with profound insights into its compatibility with the message of the Bible

- "The Language of God" by Francis Collins, a Christian, and one of the world's leading geneticists and leader of the Human Genome Project.

- "The Language of Science and Faith" by Karl Giberson and (again) Francis Collins. Giberson is a professor of physics and scholar specializing in the creation-evolution debate.

Web Sites:

- www.biologos.org. This site was started by Francis Collins and describes theistic evolution.

- http://network.asa3.org/. An international network of Christians in the sciences

- http://www.cis.org.uk/. An international network of those concerned with the relationship between science and Christian faith

- http://www.issr.org.uk/. The International Society for Science & Religion, which was founded in 2002 under the inaugural presidency of mathematical physicist, who became an Anglican priest: Sir John Polkinghorne. Some members are: Dr. Francis S. Collins, Dr. Denis Alexander, Revd. Prof. Alister McGrath (an ex-atheist-turned-theologian)

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