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Are Science and Religion at Odds?

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Republican presidential hopeful and one of the three candidates who, at a recent debate, raised his hand signifying that he did not believe in evolution, recently clarified this action in an Op-Ed for THE NEW YORK TIMES:

The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God...

...While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

--Senator Sam Brownback, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5/31/07

In her interview with Bill Moyers, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was an oceanographer before becoming a priest and later the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, explains how she sees the connection between science and faith:

My faith journey has been, as a scientist, about discovering the wonder of creation...Things that come in different sizes and colors and shapes and body forms are all part of that incredible diversity of creation that's present below the waters where we never even see them. And the Psalms tell us that God delights in that.

...I don't believe they [Religion and Science] are, at their depth, incompatible. In the Middle Ages, theology was called the Queen of the Sciences. There are ways of knowing. It is our hunger for radical certainty that leads some people to assume that they're incompatible...

...Religion and science are both ways of knowing, but they go at it from somewhat different perspectives. Science asks questions about how things happen and where they've come from. Religion and faith traditions ask questions of meaning, about why we're here and what we should do with what we have here, and how we should relate to the rest of creation.

--Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

What do you think?
-Are religion and science truly at odds with one another?
-Can and should scientific terms and notions be used to explain religion and vice versa?


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Evolution & Global Warming 08/12/08
Are Science and Religion at Odds?

Science – Do you mean the mathematical and physical calculations used to produce the limitations we use to judge our life?

Example: Time and Distance to travel from one place to another. I believe in the Science that calculates and describes our environment….

In regards to science I would like to offer you 3 Quotes:

Tao of Physics
1975 Fritjof Capra

Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics
1979 Gary Zukav

Ending of Time
1985 J. Krishnamurti & David Bohm

Religion – Do you mean the sense of life we receive from our intuition, insight, imagination, and the silence that allows observation when the “thought memory process” ceases?

Example: I walk in an open field listening to and watching nature. I am aware that my five senses are absorbing my environment and there is a sense of peace… a feeling that all is as it should be and nothing needs be done by me….

I am part of and I function as I should in this place. I ask nothing, I seek only to move about by the strength and balance of my body. I find a sense of awe and joy as I look around not needing or wanting anything. I just walk and look and listen.

I believe in the Religion that comes from the “heart” and my best description is that of “intuition – insight – imagination” being my tools to commune with my Soul.

I see no conflict between Science and Religion as my Heart and Mind gives me to understand both.

In regards to religion I would like to offer you 3 Quotes:

The great religions are the ships,
Poets the lifeboats.
Every sane person I know
has jumped overboard!
That is good for business, isn’t it? Hafiz

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves... Mary Oliver

A Frenchman traveled with an Arab.
The Frenchman asked the Arab why he believed in God.
The Arab said he recognized the footprints in the sand as a Camel’s and then pointed to the Sun setting and said that is not the footprint of Man.

I believe in a Creative Intelligence and do not pretend to name this Creator. I believe in Science and I especially receive comfort from the Tao of Physics, the Dancing Wu Li Masters, and the Ending of Time as an explanation on how Science and Religion can agree.

As for the Quotes of Hafiz, Mary Oliver, and an Arab: From these I receive balance and understanding, for it is in my life that the Poet helps me to understand my feelings and my life best!

As for Evolution and Global Warming:

I do not believe in Evolution as laid out by Charles Darwin nor am I impressed by Science trying to overpower mankind with facts.

I believe in Global Warming because my 5 senses tell me it is happening. Also I can use Mathematics to calculate the necessary information to show how population will continue to push all categories into higher and higher amounts.

I also understand the pure greed, avarice, selfishness, and consumption of the Human Being meaning that any sacrifices that are made to stop Global warming will be too little and come too late.

Mankind is headed for a catastrophe that neither Science nor Religion will be able to stop.

I believe that Mankind believes they are God and I believe Science and Religion have both failed to dispel this notion. Every Country in the World is running headlong into Materialism and Consumerism and you have only to look at the air in China to see the end of Mankind.

Readers:
Don't forget that you can believe in a Creator without subscribing to the grubby and controlling established religions. And remember that scientific thinking has a better chance helping us solve the ecological (and even cultural) demises we face than organized religion. The Bush administration's denial of science is not religious but nihilist. Luckily, Americans can still believe as they wish, or not believe. People in North Carolina and Georgisa praying to Jesus for rain does seem selfish and silly though.

I think the perceived public dichotomy between faith and religion is becoming smaller in the English speaking world. According to the journal Science the evolutionary position is slowly losing public support in the USA. Specifically the journal Science reported the following in 2006: The percentage of people in the country who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45 in 1985 to 40 in 2005. Meanwhile the fraction of Americans unsure about evolution has soared from 7 per cent in 1985 to 21 per cent last year. In Britain just under half believe that the evolutionary position is the best explanation.

I also believe that through the movie Expelled and other efforts of creationist the public is seeing that the most vociferous and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position in recent times have been proponents of atheism.
And the American public has a dim view of atheism in general.

In short, the perceived conflict in the mind of the public between science and religion may be greatly resolved in the future by the public deciding there is no real conflict and that the atheistic world view is untenable.

Has anyone ever noticed that these mega church pastors live better than their flock???
To quote George Carlin: This "god" is always broke, ever notice that, here a guy that created all this we see around us, and he can't even handle money.

There are two DVD’s out there in ‘GoogleLand’ search for “The Privileged Planet” and “A Case for a Creator”. Until you’ve looked at these two (and ya gotta use the brain…that, aaaaah, God gave ya when viewing these….don’t go swilling down a 6 pack and then try to think about these flicks), I’d place ALL your comments on the back burner. And here too is a thought for all you math freaks. There are about 80 specific parameters (requirements) and or fine-tunings in order for this planet to have conscious-observers (life of sufficient level that they know they exist and can fathom the possibilities of why life is here and what it would take for life to be elsewhere). All 80 of these have to occur at the same place and at (nearly) the same time. In order to find that possibility it is a mathematical computation greater than 80! (80 factorial: that’s 80 X 79 X 78 X 77 X etc) many of the requirements have less than that ability and so require more ‘chance’ to occur making the final number larger. That number is larger than all the atoms in the universe and further if a major evolution ‘event’ where to occur once each minute it would require more than the 13.7 billion years currently believed (by science) that the universe is old. For all intense and purposes the Planet Earth has NO probable ‘right’ to be here. SEE THE DVD’s AND TRY AND MAKE WHAT THESE SCIENTISTS SAY…go away!

Attempts to reconcile religion and science are futile and unproductive. Science searches for mechanisms and the answer to “how” the universe functions. Religion seeks meaning and the answer to “why” the world is as we know it.

Science and religion can never be brought under one roof without sacrificing intellectual honesty. The two seek different answers to separate questions using fundamentally and inherently incompatible methods. Nothing can bring the two together. Yet the effort to reconcile continues. The latest example is the idea put forth by Richard Colling at Olivet Nazarene University, who writes that god “cares enough about creation to harness even the forces of (Darwinian) randomness.” God used Darwin to implement his will!

The bizarre logic behind this idea is that the facts of evolution do not “preclude” the existence of god. In fact evolution and natural selection do indeed preclude the existence of god, according to the bible itself. We are told in Genesis that all life, everything that ever existed on earth, was created in 6 days. Evolution proves that wrong. The fossil record proves that wrong. Evolution in a Petri dish proves that wrong.

But let’s say that we just ignore Genesis and assume that god chose natural selection to execute his grand scheme. If so, he is weak, messy, and a poor planner. Not very god-like. Nothing could be further from a divine hand than the rag-tag, opportunistic, uncaring, undirected and random process of evolution.

The fundamental randomness of evolution through natural selection creates a terminal problem for any hand of god. If god is all knowing, he knew everything from the beginning of the universe, including every animal that would ever exist. That would preclude any animals evolving from random processes, since if truly random god could not then have known about them beforehand, meaning he would not be all-knowing. Yet if he in fact did know about all animals past and future, then that is not evolution, which is random by definition. Natural selection and evolution are inherently incompatible with the existence of god. The two cannot coexist.

But religion has taken such a stranglehold on American thought, that believers will go through extreme contortions to incorporate the indisputable facts of evolution into a belief system that is fully undermined by the mechanisms of natural selection.

But even worse than the intellectual dishonesty of trying to accommodate evolution within a religious framework is the shameless effort to deny the reality and validity of evolution. Evolution is the most thoroughly tested, documented, proven scientific fact ever put forth. The fact of evolution is as certain as the rising sun. Yet even today, in 2007, we hear from ministers and preachers telling us that evolution is “scientifically unverifiable.” Nothing could be further from the raw truth. Evolution is a proven reality no less than the fact that atoms are a building block of nature. To debate evolution is to question that the earth is round, or that DNA is the genetic code. Debating the fact of evolution is absurd.

Animosity toward evolution, rather than abating in the face of greater human knowledge, is being further attacked in an ocean of ignorance. The new Creation Museum in Kentucky proudly states its purpose as countering “evolutionary natural history museums that a turn countless minds against Christ and Scripture.”

That we are still having this discussion is sad testament to the serious degradation of our public school system. We are failing to teach our population even the most basic aspects of elementary science, in an era where science and technology are ever more critical to our national security.

Unless we conquer this growing threat of scientific illiteracy, our nation is doomed. We will become a second-rate nation behind in stem cell research, high energy physics, biology, and medicine. Our infrastructure will continue to crumble with no progress in materials science. We will be poorly equipped to fight the growing technological prowess of our adversaries. We must stop this ridiculous “debate” about evolution and get on with the business of protecting ourselves in the 21st century.

I am late to this conversation but I want to add my 2 cents anyway. I am thrilled that PBS is putting this story on the air. We should be open to understanding other peoples points of view. That being said, I am a Christian(American Baptist)and do believe in Christ. Too many times we christians take the supposed high moral road without realizing how offensive it can be and how close-minded it makes us look. If anything we (christians) should look on this new episode coming out as a good learning tool. That being said I would also like to address those who put together such pieces. I would like to see a good piece on christian belief. Many shows and radio programs that delve into belief systems tend to only show christianity in a modern fundamentalist form. It is very disturbing. Granted Christianity has had some black eyes, but if one studies history I think they may be surprised at what they might find. Without the tolerance of the Christian faith we would not have the open society we do. Many now will star reciting Ben Franklins wild lifestyle and Washingtons possible unbelief, but look closer. If it wasn't for an underlying moral code many followed, our society would not be as tolerant as it is today. I know there are race problems and womens rights problems, but who has always been there on to pursue these equal rights. Many are christian, many are formed by christian groups.
Now I am a bit biased coming from an American Baptist background, but I feel a country without a moral belief system is anarchy. Do I believe there should be a state sponsored religion? Absolutely not. However without a belief system there is nothing to hold onto. You can start your moral code where you want and adjust it at any time to fit your needs. This I feel is what is happening in the US today. Because we do not want to acknowledge our heritage, we now have to make up a whole new moral code. Where do we start? We cant start with the Golden Rule. Its basis is in faith. So if we cant start at a point of someones belief system, then we have to start with someones unbelief system. This however leaves us with a new problem. With no belief system. Just a void. Anyones moral code could be accepted as just and acceptable. If this is the case then the term "fair" no longer applies. So lets stomp on the chinese laborer and force latin americans into servitude. Its ok because our moral code can be adjusted to accept these things as necessary to maintain our civil rights. Lets let the major corporations dictate the media. Its ok, because we have adjusted our moral code to do so. It may not be fair, it may not be impartial, but it is what we have decided to be our moral code. Children can go to bed hungry at night in the US because its part of our moral code. We live by our natural instincts, let the fit survive and the unfit die. It all sounds harsh but when looked at objectively society can turn in the wind to accept anything if there is no belief system to warn against such dangers.
So I urge anyone who reads this to look deep into your belief system and see what is there. Also do not judge an entire faith on the beliefs and actions of so few. I have stated already I am an American Baptist. I am very proud of this fact. Several of my ancestors fled the puritan fundamentalism. In fact one of my ancestors helped found the first Baptist Church in Rhode Island, and SHE was a woman. I say this because even 300-400 years ago the first steps to equality where being built. So again I urge you to look into yourself and see how you treat your fellow man/woman, and what prompts you to believ what you do.

I am first and foremost a follower of Christ, and if this denomination ends someday or moves in a direction I cannot abide, I will still follow Christ, but I will try and do it within the framework of my belief system.

I've since seen that Anglican South is a specific term used within the Anglican Communion, so I now understand the context in which Mr. Moyers used it in talking with Katharine Jefferts Schori, but the term itself seems no less objectionable than Third World. Asia still isn't, by and large, south.

I'm chiming in very late here, but I was confused by Mr. Moyers' use of "Global South" to apply to Africa, South America...and Asia.

I thought most or all of Asia fell in the Northern Hemisphere, so I don't understand why it's in the Global South.

If Global South is a euphemism for "Third World," I can't see how it's a better term. I don't think that Third World itself is a good description for developing nations, but I can't see how Global South is any better.

The important things about science and religion we must remember is that whether god/desses exist lies beyond the province of both.
In Abrahamic religions, now dominant in western civilization, and all feeling themselves to be the final phase in the development of Spirit, the most iumportant scientific factors we must realize are (1)science works hand in hand with these religions to forward their goal of Apocalyptic destruction of all life in this worldly existence, and (2)hat due to the wobble of magnetic north the background constellation the sun rises through at the vernal equinox every 2,000 to 2,200 years changes. Precession of the Equinoxes (Jung)and/or Retrogression of Nodes (Hegel). The Archetype (ruling form) associated with these cycles dictates the adequate and applicable shape of Spirit for the 2,000 year cycle of the religious community of western civilization. To externalize this shape, certain cults of real artists and/or prophets script or form this shape in a master class artistic medium to set the proper S-R pattern congruent with these (f)actors in our unconscious self. For instance, in the West, for the passing 2,000 year cycle, the Martyr was the archetype indigenous to the constellation Pisces, and thus dominant in the colective psyche of the religous community. The Greek and Semitic artists were aware of this and scripted the act in Prometheus Bound and The Bible. The Jewish King we know as Christ actualized this figure, and thus convinced certain individuals he was god. We are at a point where these nodes of 2,000 year cycles are being broken once again, contributing to the theological crisis of our age. This is the basis for a science of religion, in western civilization.
We are moving from the martyr to the sage/ wiseman indigenous to Aquarius. It thus explains the unconscious (f)actor in the God Game causing our affinity to the East, because this has always been the goal of Hindusim and Buddhism. Unfortunately it is also causing the felt need to bring about the end of the world by the Abrahamic Cults. It really goes back to the fact we do not understand our self well-enough.
I guess this could all be avoided if we only understood that Tutankaten/amen was the real second coming,, and what the safe eye of Atlantis is doing on a one dollar bill.
Unfortunately, this is an empirically verifiable internal consistent theological hypothesis. Thank you for your time I am by no means attempting to waste it.
If nothing else, please understand, This is The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius is more than a song by the Fifth Dimension.

Whether you do or don't believe is your choice but I remember an old Biology class when 1 student was being asked about evolution and he asked the instructor how all the mass and atoms came from and the answer was it was just there. I place my belief in a supreme being rather than the intellectual answer "it was just there".
As to not embracing global warming theory, do I believ the globe is warming yes is it caused by us, absolutely not. I've lived a few years and when i was a child the issue was global cooling, then there was too many people and we were running out of food and then was acid rain, disappearing ozone. This is just another liberal issue to stir everyone up and want us to give up our standard of living. Hey the guy getting all the press is Al Gore a village idot just look at his GPA in college

I am a Christian, although I am not an evangelical, a fundamentalist, nor a Catholic. I read and study the Bible by myself. I believe one day science and the Bible will be reconciled by the fullness of the whole truth.

The most obvious refutation to the belief that God created the earth in six literal days is this:

God rested on the 7th day, right? The seventh day has continued since its declaration even though man knows thousands of years have past since that day and are continuing to add up over time. What might that suggest about days 1 thru 6? Might they be just as timeless?

Public fundamentalist Christianity is for those who can not handle or comprehend scientific truths (like global warming) so they say "God is moving the wheat belt," or "How nice to be living in a warm and cozy world." It is as if to them God is a play set they and their adherents control, just the collective consciousness of the ignorant, vicious and envious. Here I stand, will this dissenter be stricken dead and broiled forever by your sweet loving Goblin? Or is there some loving , healing , understanding guy/gal in charge? I'll wait and see.

"Look at the complexity of life and how it all intricately is put together and works together...it is definite evidence of a Creator!"

This is flawed reasoning. Because everything is so beautiful and 'unbelievable' to our limited intellect, therefore a creator is responsible for it? Evolution is not a religion at all. It is continually subject to challenges yet unlike religion, it gets stronger. Why do we not believe in Zeus or Mars anymore? Because our intellect and reason have created TESTABLE theories that have produced predictable results. A building stands in an earthquake not because we hoped god would be pleased with our tribute to him and therefore keeps the building from falling. It stands because of science - no magic or faith required.

Some of the things I hear religious people say - like a banana can only be because of god - sound like something children would say. Just because we cannot prove something does not mean god did it. There's nothing wrong with saying we can't explain this or that and I am quite satisfied know I don't know everything.

As more and more of the natural world reveals itself through science there will be less and less of a reason for religious explanation. Sure, there will always be a spiritual need in humanity and so only religion will be able to deal with that. Religion does not have any place in the physical world anymore. While I'm not saying science is perfect, it does offer us a reasonable and intelligent set of tools to deal with the physical world around us and it gives us the ability to challenge and debate theories and explanations. Because of the dogmatic nature of religion it will never be able to be questioned or adapted the way science can and we know what happens when one cannot adapt - they die out.

I, too, have an engineering degree. My entire family is made up of scientists. I am also a Christian. To believe in Jesus Christ takes faith. To believe that the world evolved from "dirt" (when you cannot explain where the "dirt" came from) takes more faith than to believe that the world and the life that is in it was created by a Creator! If we look at a machine or even a sculpture in the sand on the beach, we can determine that it was put there by a creator. Look at the complexity of life and how it all intricately is put together and works together...it is definite evidence of a Creator! Evolution is a religion. So if you believe in evolution or creation, religion and science go together!

I do not believe that science and religion are at odds but that scientist and religious people are. What I have observed having been significantly involved with both is that the problem starts with a lack of understanding of both subjects in many people. People seem to go all in on one or the other and think that one has to disprove the other.

Science is observation that leads to formulation. Religions that are concerned that science is close to disproving the basis of their beliefs, they should become more involved in the discussions to find the ties between the two. Another option would be to have scientist explain the miracles that occur with a 12 step program.

I agree with Christopher Hitchens, "God did not make us, we made God." There are as many Gods as there are people who reject the laws of the universe and the findings of science based thereon. The laws of nature apply to all people at all times in all places; religious dogma is in constant flux and people die for their particular interpretations of its history and/or meaning. There are no winners because there are no answers to the issues they raise. Faith is a wall built around the intellect to prevent the entry of reason and knowledge of the real world. Science and the scientific method are the gateways to truth and freedom.

I don't think science and spirituality are odds with each other at all. Einstein spoke in length of this and his spiritual writings are as big of an accomplishment as his work in mathematics and theory.

Religion is a different matter. Dogma, institutions, agents for political control is at the basis of most religious teaching. There may or may not be a spiritual component. This is probably why religion is seen in contrast to science, and evolution a contrast to creationist theory.

Rarely do you hear the argument that both creationism and evolution could be legitimate and they are synergistic and not opposed. Some religions do teach us this, but you won't hear that in US media. I don’t see these as opposites, one without the other and I think it is flawed to believe we evolve without any intervention when we are genetic engineering…just as I think it is flawed to teach absolutes of creationism and label a fable or scripture as the truth of all creation. Maybe creationism and
Evolution are occurring all the time, simultaneously, and in synergy.

I have spent my whole life believing that there was no conflict between the spiritual and the scientific. I have been a medical scientist for 50 years and have always seen the sacred in the entrances and exits of human life. What I have left behind are the organized structures where humans have superimposed their dogmas and beliefs onto others with visions of hell and damnation if one doesn't believe as they do. My spirituality takes me into prayer with the Universe, thankfulness and gratitude, and a sense of great responsibility and stewardship for the Universe and my fellow travelers. I also have a great sense of responsibility for my self and my own deeds in the here and now and how they contribute to the greater good. There is no conflict here between faith and science nor with many ethical, moral, faith filled people I know who see little value in these days in the organized structure of religion.

I am an Engineer and was raised with a minimal religious education. I became an Episcopalian 10 years ago via marriage. For many years now I routinely attend services but frequently questioned the overall religious premise finding it frequently at odds with scientific understanding and processes.

I must say that Bishop Schori spoke to me in a way that I would have never believed possible. She is the first religious person that provided a rational process on how to integrate religion and science without conflict. I may possess a technical mind, but I am also seeking answers to philosophical questions that science alone cannot answer. I now view my personal religious experience in an entirely new light.

Her open-minded viewpoints and progressive attitudes are what we could use more of these days. What a breath of fresh air to hear someone trying to understand opposing viewpoints and find common ground rather than degrade and slander others. When faced with adversity she merely redoubles her efforts to understand and encourages others to do the same. History has shown that it is harder to make people join together than to separate. I would like to personally express my best wishes to the Bishop in her new role. Considering the current turmoil in our church, I believe her to be the right person at the right time. She makes me proud to be an Episcopalian.

I was also very impressed by the other thoughtful comments posted here. Mr. Moyers has become a welcome guest every week for a moment of calm reasoned discussion. Welcome back Bill.

That science and religion are at odds has nothing to do with god, if there is one. Religious leaders maintain their power and authority by keeping their followers ignorant. They are "pastors," "fathers,"
"reverends," "teachers," etc., which means they need sheep, children, pupils, and so on. If their flocks become knowledgeable, their authority and superiority can be questioned. When a child repeatedly asks "why?" it can be a nuisance to a busy parent but it is a sign of curiosity and a necessary and healthy step of development.

It easily overlooked that science and religion have a very high ideal in common which can best be called kind of self forgetfulness or self denial. In religion this plays out in acts of love, in foregoing personal and selfish aims in order to do something of benefit to another. In science this plays out in the striving for objectivity where all personal bias and preconceptions are laid aside in order to discover something true about certain phenomena. In both cases a certain understanding is desired that unites both sides so they achieve a certain harmony. In love, we act in harmony with the desires of others. In objectivity we think in harmony with the phenomenon. This objectivity need not be limitted to mere thinking in numbers and statistics. Application of a living and representational imagination can be far more percise and objective than abstract averages and statistical trends, for imangination can represent what is being investigated without extracting, breaking apart, or throwing together what is being observed. It is easy to see that religion and mythology have to do with the realms of the imagination with its gods, angels, and other unseen beings. Science also has this realm open to it but most often neglects it even though Einstein himself stressed its importance for him over his understanding of math.

If by 'religion' one means 'that supernatural realm which religion hypothesizes as reality' (e.g., gods, angels, demons, saints, etc.), then clearly science and religion are at odds. Science has no tools for investigating that which can be neither observed nor measured. If, however, by religion one means 'the effect which a hypothized supernatural realm has on the observable' (e.g., answered prayer, divine intercession, "miracle" cures, etc.), then science has the ability (and I believe the duty) to investigate those measurable effects. It is one thing to 'believe' that which cannot be proved. It is quite another to believe in effects which can be, have been and are being disproved.

I think a better question would be "should science and religion be at odds?" since it seems fairly obvious that they are in some way for a lot of people. It would also be helpful to look at how this antagonism came about through the lives of people like Galileo or Copernicus and that it was not necessarily what the first modern scientist were saying, but more that they were saying it. Like heretical sects before them, the scientists were challenging the church's authority in matters of truth. If this debate had been carried forth in its essence to our own times we would be talking about the validity of dogmatic authoritative truth versus an open and investigative search for truth, not the garments of science and religion or reason and faith. Science can be authoritatively dogmatic just as religion can be and religion can be open and investigative just as science can be. Additionally faith and reason cannot be separated in any practical way. An honest scientist has faith that the truth exists and she or he will be able to approach it through investigation. An honest person of religion will be able to reasonably explain how their beliefs play out into life. A sincere science and a sincere religion will find that they have nothing to be at odds about because they are ultimately searching for the same thing which is a full understanding of life and the human condition. It is only bias that restricts science to reason and religion to faith and this bias has to be worked out by each individually with the aid of all who bring their doubts, criticisms, and concerns from every direction to the debate.
It also is of some significance that Christ is called the Word, which in Greek is logos as in biology, anthropology, and many of the sciences. The Greeks spoke of the Logos, which can also be translated reason, study, or sensible, long before Christ, most often in ways related to inquiring into the nature of things. So another question may be why did the early Christians use this heavily loaded word, logos, to describe Christ and why is it a word so closely allied with scientific inquiry.

I will answer the question "no" based on the following definitions. Science is an honest search for truth which does not set boundaries based on preconceived ideas (such as "everything can be explained in naturalistic terms". This rules out the supernatural.)
Religion for me is a reasoned and reasonable (not a blind) Christian faith in the God of the Bible. There is sufficient evidence for me in recent discoveries in astrophysics, biology, biochemistry and other fields of science to affirm the truth of my faith. There is an organization called "Reasons to Believe" (reasons.org) whose object is to present scientifically sound research supporting this faith. I would invite anyone interested to check it out.

Judith M. posted:

Science should know where its domain begins and ends, and religion should know where its domain begins and ends. Many think that overstepping the proper application of ones field of study only happens from the religious front. However, when scientists claim that evolution proves there is no God, one has to laugh at the colossal presumption of such an assertion.

You have made my point, but from the opposite side of the argument. Religious belief demands that science dare not contradict revealed truths.

Evolutionary biologists do not seek to prove or disprove the existence of any god, be it Jehovah, Poseidon, Krishna, Baal, Jupiter, Loki, Quetzelcoatl, Ahura Mazda, or the Great Turtle. They seek to explain what they have observed and documented from masses of evidence from a dozen scientific disciplines.

It has been said that a theist is an atheist about every god but his own, while a true atheist is the same, except that he doesn't make that final exception.

The massive body of evidence for evolution can't be dismissed simply because it undermines ancient "revelations" in Genesis or any other of the hundreds of creation myths that have sprung from religious true believers. Why should Genesis be any more authoritative than, say, the Rig Veda? Or the remarkably complex and beautiful Navajo creation story?

...it presumes that evolution explains how the Big Bang occurred.

Where do you get the idea that evolution seeks to explain how the Big Bang occurred? Evolution confines itself to the mechanisms behind the development of lifeforms over the past three and a half billion years here on Earth. It doesn't even attempt to address what caused the first primitive pre-cellular life to appear - only with how it grew.

What does that have to do with the Big Bang, which is dated at least ten billion years earlier than the origin of life on Earth?

Methinks it is easy to dismiss evolution and cosmology if one knows so remarkably little about either.

Can astronomy coexist with astrology?

Can chemistry coexist with alchemy?

Can medicine coexist with faith healing?

Can cosmology, geology, paleontology, biology, evolution, genetics, and a dozen other solidly-established scientific disciplines coexist with biblical creation?

It is merely self-comforting sophistry to say that science and religion can coexist in separate, but complementary spheres. Each is the enemy of the other.

The birth of a religion simply marks the point at which the search for truth ends. All has been revealed by a "higher being," and is beyond questioning. All that is left for the new generations of believers is to study the revealed "truth" in order that it be better understood and obeyed.

Science is the antithesis of religion, relying on observation, experimentation, and reason to discover the truths of the universe, not the endless studying and reinterpreting of ancient texts written by ignorant and superstitious men.

In the words of Victor Hugo:

"We know the clerical party; it is an old party. This it is which has found for the truth those two marvelous supporters, ignorance and error. This it is which forbids to science and genius the going beyond the Missal and which wishes to cloister thought in dogmas. Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of it. Its history is written in the history of human progress, but it is written on the back of the leaf. It is opposed to it all. This it is which caused Prinelli to be scourged for having said that the stars would not fall. This it is which put Campanella seven times to torture for saying that the number of worlds was infinite and for having caught a glimpse of the secret of creation. This it is which persecuted Harvey for having proved the circulation of the blood. In the name of Jesus it shut up Galileo. In the name of St Paul it imprisoned Christopher Columbus. To discover a law of the heavens was an impiety, to find a world was a heresy. This it is which anathematized Pascal in the name of religion, Montaigne in the name of morality, Moliere in the name of both morality and religion. There is not a poet, not an author, not a thinker, not a philosopher, that you accept. All that has been written, found, dreamed, deduced, inspired, imagined, invented by genius, the treasures of civilization, the venerable inheritance of generations, you reject."

Say Brian, given this commandment and its embellishment:

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me,

what am I supposed to learn from this jealous god who punishes multiple generations of children?

Are science and religion at odds?
No more than science and shamanism are at odds.

Science should know where its domain begins and ends, and religion should know where its domain begins and ends. Many think that overstepping the proper application of ones field of study only happens from the religious front. However, when scientists claim that evolution proves there is no God, one has to laugh at the colossal presumption of such an assertion. First, it presumes that science can prove or disprove the existence of a spiritual being, and second, it presumes that evolution explains how the Big Bang occurred.

I was disappointed in Bishop Jefferts-Schori's Biblical exegesis on David and Jonathan. I think "bob" is absolutely right that the proper interpretation of this writing must take into consideration the historical context in which it was written. It's absurd to think that the writer, who was from a culture that meted out the death penalty for homosexual acts, would write about a homosexual relationship in a positive way. Bishop Jefferts-Schori is right about bringing one's prejudices to Biblical interpretation and finding what you are looking for--she's a good example of someone who has done just that.

In this statement

BILL MOYERS: If biology, as I understand it does, tells us that homosexuality is-- is a genetic given. And religion says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, can those two perceptions ever be reconciled?

Mr. Moyers' Please give details on this claim. There has not been one scientific study that is conclusively on this. You have made a statement of conjecture sound like a scientific fact. It may be your opinion that your statement is true but it is a long way from a scientific fact.

The PB continues to misrepresent the faith that by being a Bishop has claimed to be a defender of. Shame on her, and those of enlightenment that she leads down the path that Jesus warned his follows not to take, "the ways of the world"

The discussion so far has hinted at a point that I feel needs to be stated explicitly. Both Religion and Science are ways of confronting our common ignorance. The tensions come from the processes used in the confrontation. Science relies on an approach based upon finer and finer differentiation in the effort to find as yet unknown "primal causes" or "unifying theory" that provide order in a changing world. Religion approaches the same ignorance with the application of an accepted "theory" to the challenges of that changing world. Both need to learn to start their discussions with the necessary first declaration, "I do not know." Science can then proceed with its "But, my reasoned deduction is...", while Religion can proceed with its "But, I believe..." Placing both positions in this relationship might just reduce the tension. Both would do well to accept the Sage's advice that "The acknowledgement of ignorance is the first step toward wisdom." It is my reasoned belief that wisdom is the objective both are ultimately seeking. The arguments are over methods not ends.

Theory and faith are one and the same, merely the complex uncertainties of thought. The effects of theory and faith are the problems of inequitable difference, dividing all things. Truth is more simple than thought. To find the truth simply remove any doubt. Nature's truth is equal, and once taught and practiced, all will be one and free.

MJA

In all religious topics covered by Bill Moyers, it seems that whenever the Bible is quoted as the "source", he accepts that premise and then proceeds to probe on how to challenge the understanding and interpretation of "God's" words as stated in the Bible. The recent interview with Bishop Katharine Schori took the same approach. I wish Bill Moyers would challenge that premise before probing further into how to interpret the Bible.

It would be very informative to understand how the Bible, Koran & other sacred documents are gathered and how they become accepted by believers as holy scriptures. I hope the topic could be explored in the future Bill Moyers Journal.

People with views like Bishop John Shelby Spong could be good candidates for interview. Bishop Spong in his book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" expressed many thought provoking ideas. The excerpts below taken from his book are good starting points for discussion.

" Can modern men and women continue to pretend that timeless, eternal, and unchanging truth has been captured in the words of a book that achieved its final written form midway into the second century of this common era?"

" The Bible relates to us the way our ancient forebears understood and interpret their world, and make sense out of life, and thought about God. Our task is the same as theirs. We must interpret our world in the light of our knowledge and suppositions."

While Christian bashing can be great sport, and I certainly have done my share of regaling against intolerance, let us stay on topic. The fundamentalists can diminish themselves easily enough. And, let it be said, not all Christians are intolerant: i.e., The good Bishop Katharine.

The two larger questions that Mr. Moyers poses here have always been of great interest. I have enjoyed reading most of the comments. Let us continue...

Every time I read Christian apologists from either wing I am reminded of two quotes:

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians." - Ghandi

and perhaps more on point:

"Christianity might be a great religion should anyone every try it." - Mark Twain

Why do we give childish beliefs serious consideration in the public forum?

Their own Christ warned about parading their religion in the streets when he spoke to the Pharisees. Yet, they have the nerve to (Joanna) to condemn gays and lesbians and suggesting that we should be ashamed of who we are.

If only they'd read the Bible they memorize and then use to beat others as if they were wielding a club.

Sad group, all.

I wonder what future historians will say about the fact that in this age of tremendous scientific discovery and technological change, more and more people, world wide, are turning to a simplistic, and tribalistic view of religion. According to them, their beliefs are right, and yours are wrong. And God, who is described as all knowing, and all powerful, somehow needs their human help to convert the rest of us to believe as they do. In extreme cases, they will even help God by dispatching you, and any of your friends who refuse to "get with the program" to the afterlife before your time.
I wish all the extremists could be sent to an unoccupied area of the world where they could fight it out among themselves, and leave the rest of us, of whatever religious faith, or no religion faith at all, to lead our lives in peace.



Yes, science and religion are at odds. For science is the search for natural, scientific explanations for phenomena. And people who become scientists tend to think that there must be a natural, scientific explanation for everything. If they hadn't thought that to begin with, they probably wouldn't have become scientists. And the more they succeed in finding such explanations, the more they are convinced that their naturalistic assumptions about the universe are basically correct. Thus the more science advances, the more it seemingly pushes back the "supernatural" to ever more remote reaches of the human imagination.

With modern evolutionary theory, etc., we've pushed God all the way back to the Big Bang, and won't allow Him to interfere in the workings of the universe at any point past that.

There is no god.
There is no reason now to suppose that there is a god. Before the Enlightenment, one could suppose that there might be a god, because there was no foundation in reality at that time for humans to suppose otherwise.
Humans continue to believe in god because they were passively, and in some cases actively, brainwashed by some adult in their life repeating the notion that there is a god.
No child anywhere ever came up with this notion on their own.
As for the commentary about why we exist, et cetera, I respond: we'll never know and more importantly, who cares? Dare I suggest: "think"... if you had an answer to the question of why we exist, exactly what would you do with the answer? Nothing. You wouldn't quit your job, miss dinner or give up your next vacation. So what on earth, yes, earth, are you talking about?

Science, when understood as a form of reason, has to be in conflict with religion, as a form of faith. And indeed, religion must conflict science in turn.

The distinction of science as “reason” is important because there is a fair amount of atheist vitriol that claims science, but only manages to reflect deep hurt and unwieldy anger. Science is not angry; it’s reasonable. It investigates for both our benefit and our curiosity, and at no point is there room for an impassioned “assault” on the perceived evils of ignorance. When science becomes a crusade instead of a question, it ceases to be science. If anything, proper scientific skepticism should be defending our ability to be uncertain and always question what we dare to hold as truth. Science can never be passive and complacent in the status quo, and never become so lazy as to fall into anger. With every idea, there is always the search for a better one, and to accept the current truth as truth immutable will never satisfy.

And, indeed, the distinction of religion as “faith” is equally important. Faith is a fragile thing because it is a way of knowing without understanding. Do you want to prove faith? Toss yourself off the temple, see how that goes. Faith that is so desperate as to seek confirmation and certainty plunges in over its head by trying to gain an understanding that cannot be had. Perhaps the only thing worse than this is a faith that assumes invincibility and punches in a way that only anger can. Good faith is there when nothing else is, to empathize with our vulnerability and smallness. It makes us realizes that we all feel small and the only thing to do is extend our hand to our fellow man. Indeed, to cut through the powerful tendency of delusion faith must be powerful, not by virtue of proof, but by virtue of meekness.

And what is left but for them to bash each other to pieces, two such small human endeavors. Faith cannot stand the test of reason, and reason cannot lay down to the vulnerability of faith. So they will batter on, and feelings will be hurt. But I think people so easily forget that there are worse wounds than those inflicted on our ideology. Let science get a kick to the groin. Let religion be rent in barbed wire. With any luck, we’ll be better mankind for it in the end.

"All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:3

I am not now a Christian or an Atheist, though I have claimed to be one or the other at different times in my life.

The above New Testament passage seems to satisfy me that science was God's own creation, as was everything else. EVERYTHING!; the good, bad and everything in between. When I have thought otherwise, I have bumped up against the question: Is your God too small?

With that understanding of a creative force, I am able to come to terms with all sorts of theological conundrums. However, under the scrutiny and interrogation of a close philosopher friend, I have had to entertain a lot of cognitive dissonance in my beliefs. Believer beware!

When I found that my belief was written in the Bible, I took some comfort in its affirmation. However, I personally believe that the Bible is no more, or less, divinely inspired than any other writing, including all the various explanations, arguments, demagoguery, and statements of "fact" in this blog. God is great! Is your God too small?

Faith begins, it seems to me, before science. My faith begins when I recognize that I am an individual.

I believe that God allowed/made things to happen pretty much the way scientists are discovering. Isn't it beautiful?

Science:
Science is our attempt to understand ourselves and our environment It’s been a grotesque failure insofar as we are no nearer to understanding ourselves or the environment. Science is premised on the word “why” and, as far as I know, exists in all languages. We are the only creatures on the planet wanting to know why and having a need to know. The paradox: the more we understand, the less we know we understand. The question “why” never gets fundamentally answered.
Religion:
Religion is the root of all evil because it was the religious mind-set that created the concepts of good and evil. That’s the dichotomy (splitting into two), but one man’s good is another man’s evil. Good and/or evil are value judgments. Righteousness is not a characteristic out there in the ether although religion imbued us with that notion.
Religiosity is an act of believing. For the most part, what we are asked to believe defies logic since there is no intrinsic basis for religious belief. It is nearly always taught to us in childhood and mostly inculcated through fear, even including those agnostics who survive without any deep religious feeling into old age, then on nearing death, get scared and jump onto the “everlasting” bandwagon, just in case …...
Let’s look at the act of belief. We actually “know” or “don’t know.” Believing is an attempt to create a third factor beyond the dichotomy -- an attempt to find a middle course. We neurotics, having devised a middle course (belief), now try to make this middle course closer to “knowing” rather than to “not knowing.” So, to bolster the rhetoric, we call believing an act of faith. We are asked to “have faith” as if that now justifies believing.

Both Religion and Science are neurotic act outs in order to satiate our neurotic notion to know what it is all about, since we subliminally know is something inherently wrong with life as we know it.

What is wrong is that we are not fully feeling; a pathological condition which is the basis of neurosis.

- Jack -

Strange I think it is america that is in conflict not religion.
your american version of religion is scary.
It is american religion that is att odds with science .even the vatican has accepted the scientific basis of evolution they just say God started it.
the sooner america gives up spending more money on thier churches than thier local school science lab ,the better

All this flap from sky-god worshipers over my right to be a gay man and millions of other men and women as well to be who they are with out the mental and physical bullying and threats to life makes me sick and nearly incoherent with anger.

Just who do they think they are? If these Africans who object to a gay accepting POV in their church want to continue their heritage of tribal superstition among themselves, that's fine with me.

But leave me and mine alone and continue down the primrose path of ignorance without me.

Even the religiously progressive grab my goat with a nearly physical jerk.
I contend that the progressives just THINK they need religion to get through the day.

Sex and religion should be practiced in PRIVATE among consenting adults!.

The butter-won't melt-in-my-mouth attitude of Ms. Schori just turned my stomach. She was implying that the god of the universe gives us science in order to love HIM more deeply. VOMIT comes to my throat to even type about it.

What Salman Rushdie has so aptly called "the dead hand of literalism" is needlessly separating the verities of science from the consolations of religion. Faith doesn't have to take leave of reason, unless one is determined to uphold a set of dogmatic, sectarian beliefs. The notion of a creator powerful, imaginative and patient enough to work through a "big bang" and the process of evolution is a great deal more interesting than the old Genesis model. The more we know about the world, the more wondrous and dear it becomes.

I very much enjoyed your talk with Bishop Schori. Radiant spirits, the both of you. Many thanks.

Among the people who couldn't stomach the directions the Episcopal Church was going (30 years ago!) was the Presiding Bishop's own mother. She became a layman in the Orthodox Church in the late 70's. She was also a trained scientist, with degrees in chemistry & PhD in microbiology. Different in every way theologically from the daughter, she was also appalled at the ordination of women. Somehow the tired "old" Christian truths that so horrify Moyers and Schori didn't have the same effect on her. This is something neither person will even *try* to explain, or even ask about. Inconvenient truths, someone might call them.

I am in complete agreement with Ms. Schori when it comes to her clear analysis of the different places in her life occupied by science and religion. Her explanation that religion has to do with relationships is a distinction which I think makes all the sense in the world. She expressed these distinctions clearly and in the very same manner that I would explain it, even though I would be one of those, were I an Episcopalian, who would be disturbed by her bishopric. I want to make it clear where we agree and do not agree, because I sense that divisions might otherwise be made that are not fair.

Ms. Schori brought up the example of David and Jonathan when she was talking about intense relationships, giving the example that David loved Solomon more than the love of a man for a woman. In these polarized times when sexuality is so visibly on display for many who, I feel, have little understanding of the issues of privacy and public declaration, it is unfortunate that this seemed to be in her understanding an excuse for homosexual activity which I do not believe the text is declaring. What I see being illustrated by the text is love, and great love, which in these sexually explicit times unfortunately translates to sex.

It shouldn't.

A man can have a loving relationship with another man, or a woman a woman, that is greater than a love for the other gender, without it involving sexual intimacy. Such as: Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.

I am profoundly disturbed that along with all that was good about Ms. Shori's explanations about science and religion, we were obliged to also consider the do's and don'ts of homosexual relationships. Certainly we all fall short in one way or another, and this matter may not be the worst of our shortcomings. But it is not something for us to be proud of; we really have to look into our hearts and into Scripture and see that this is the case.

Religion and science have been the two sources most people have gone to to explain the human experience. I do not believe they should be at odds because they have fundamentally different approaches. Science seeks to explain through quantifiable evidence, where religion asks to take a leap of faith.

The problem arises when science also askes us to take the same leap of faith, and accept theoretical conclusion as fact, and that is where it starts to get messy. For example, evolution is a widely accepted scientific fact, but under the scientific method it is actually a called a theory, and arugabley nothing more than a hypothesis. So in that sense siciece is no different than a religion.

If the question is, are different religions at odds, the answer is obiviously yes. And if science poses as religion, then it will be at odds with Christianity (which is really what we are talking about here) because despite its teachings to the contrary, Chritsianity is an hateful and judgemental religion.

If Christians could be more like Jesus, which is in my opinion, accepting, loving, inclusive, compassionate, and secure in his beliefs, they would not be so threatened by science. And, well, science is going to question religion becasue science questions everything. The scientific method seeks not the proove, but to disproove, and religion feels attacked, thus puttig them at odds.

I think that there are some big presuppositions built into the terms here.To dealing with it here in short but not superficially is a challenge.Getting clear about what these labels really refer to and what we are really talking about may prove illuminating. (By the way, the politician's NYtimes response demonstrated the fallacy of 'begging the question' as his conclusion of a creator is presupposed in his premises.)

Here, I'll keep the broad terms and instead offer some initial questions that might be more useful to encourage a deeper and more honest analysis:

Does science have a mythology? In other words, does science make certain assertions that have no support in natural evidence that it presents as-real?
Does science have a set moral dogma?
Does science represent its assertions about the world as absolute and finalized, beyond critical analysis?

Personally I find that many of our religious heritages do have creative currents of knowledge and reason that parallel some of the healthy skepticism and empiricism in the modern sciences. The Tibetan Madhyamika, Bodhidarma(zen), and some Sufi orders are very skeptical indeed and anti-dogmatic to the hilt. Getting specific about which religion is also significant.

Your interview and book w/Joseph Campbell had a big impact on me as a college student. It is putting it mildly to say that I appreciate your continuous effort to encourage greater society towards knowledge through reason and honesty.

I cannot explain nor even condone the expression which you and other use:
SPIRITUAL TRUTHS.
It seems somehow oxymoronic and wholly unscientific and even irrational. It seems to condone and give credibility to books of the bible and even the gospels which are hardly historic and more the personal writings of people who are mostly if not all unnamed and anonymous.

WOW! What a great interview. The expression of belief that God is about relationships is the most powerful concept I think we heard in the interview. She is the most impressive religious figure in the country, and rightfully so.

The only people that see a conflict between religion and science are the people that insist on a literal reading of religious texts that clearly do not reflect the world that we live in and the world of knowledge. Thanks for the interview Bill.

Francisco's response about a "lesbian scientific religious bishop" illustrates how hard it is to achieve dialogue, let alone reconciliation. Facts are easily ignored when one is so sure of having the only right-thinking answer.

Katharine Jefferts Schori is a married woman. That's why she uses a double last name: her husband's last name is Schori. They have a daughter who's a pilot in the Air Force.

Comments like Francisco's show willful ignorance and meanness of spirit -- hardly good advertisements for Christianity.

After seeing the program tonight, my opinion of the Bishop is even higher than it was before. She's the best thing to happen to the Anglican Communion since, say, Bishop Desmond Tutu.

One of my friends uses a nickname for her that he derived from the custom of Bishop's signing their communications by using a cross before their names, as in + Katharine. She's known to us as Plus Katharine. Definitely a plus for reason, reconciliation, and deft phrasing.

Of course science and religion CAN be at odds. But only if we allow ourselves to be conflicted. Science is a factual description of our world in all its splendor. Religion is based on faith and hope. I look forward to science describing findings that either support or challenge my understanding of my beliefs. Science doesn't attempt to describe the love I have for my fellow man or my hope for an afterlife. Only my faith can do that. I pity those whose faith is so narrow that they are threatened by science and who know they have all the answers. Thank's Bill for a wonderfull, thought provoking segment. Welcome back!

simply, science has destroyed the faith of many and now masquerades as faith when permitted to do so ;-( "science falsely so-called" indeed and Truth.......period.......

and now this evening we have a lesbian scientific religious bishop using the word "love" yet preaching of "lust", using the word "world" yet preaching of the earth and Creation ;-(

why is it that so many wonder what's wrong concerning the present distress? are all so blinded by the religious whores that they can not see The Light?

all systems of religion but fornicate with "the god of this world", he who is "the father of lies", "d"evil ;-(

true it is indeed that "the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one" and i would add, "especially it's religious systems that are but the promised "strong delusion"".......

hope is there would be those who "see" The Light for they will heed the call of The Only True GOD to "Come Out of her, MY people"!

those who heed the call will "come out" of this world and it's systems of religion.

they will be "in, but not of this world" indeed and Truth.......period.......

and they will have peace in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world....... francisco

Science and Religion cannot be reconciled. I am really tired of this kind of b.s that Bill keeps repeating over and over. By definition there is no place for god in Science. end of discussion. the problem is that religious cannot stand the superiority of science. why is Europe losing its faith. Will the Bishop giving up flying to save the earth. Why did Bill not ask this simple question?

I have belief in what has been proven to my satisfaction to exist. Religion asks that I have belief in what I am told. I have a problem with that and I always have had a problem with that. I remember asking my parish priest questions and his answer was that I had to believe that I had to have faith. Wrong answer. I have been an atheist for many years now. Science and religion are completely at odds in my opinion.

If there is an answer to this question, it was provided by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. I'm just writing to express what a phenominal interview this was. Moyers' questions were so thoughtful and Schori's answers, were just astonishing ... and right on. These shows are the most wonderful thing on TV. Thank you!

Are Science and Religion at Odds?

Conservative Christian leaders who believe the Bible is to be understood literally, dominate the media and are a powerful political force.

Therefore, to me whether science and religion are at odds, does not represent the relevant question facing our nation today. In fact, I would venture to suggest that were it not for the dominance of the fundamentalists in politics and media, we would not, currently be asking this question.

The fundamentalists represent only a small percentage of Christians and yet, they are negatively impacting our nation in education, politics, foreign policy, justice, journalism, stem cell research and global warming.

The relevant question, I believe, is how can we prevent this minority, fundamentalist Christian group from dominating the majority of US citizens, with its subsequent impact on our legislation and policies.

The other question I would ask, is how is it that these fundamentalist Christians receive so much air time in spite of their minority status among the Christian groups.

The majority of Christians will not find science and religion at odds. The minority, fundamentalist Christians do find science and religion at odds. They have imposed their irrationality on the majority, and unless we find a way to appropriately balance citizen influence on legislation and policies they will continue to do so.

Based upon Browback's comments - and you must assume he is sincere - he is totally unqualified to be president. We don't need a president that thinks the bible trumps science, where science has developed theories based upon the scientific method of research. The bible is not a book of science and while the creation story is a nice myth, but it is not science. Brownback is entitled to his faith, but he's not entitled to become president if he can't seperate a faith belief from the real world around us.

God is REAL. Believe that. The birth of a baby is no accident. God is in charge.

As posed, the first question doesn't seem valid.

If you ask if there's a conflict between science and religious cosmologies, then, if those cosmologies are taken literally, I would certainly answer 'yes'.

To be more pointed about it, there's obviously a deep conflict between science and a literal reading of the Bible.

I think Candidate Brownback's religious test for evolutionary theories is misconceived. It's not up to theologians - or politicians - to make the judgment that some aspect of evolutionary theory is an example of "atheistic theology posing as science." He should "leave it to heaven" -- and to peer review.

Science and faith are a different matter. There are many who find science and some forms of faith compatible. Within the Christian tradition, it's possible to have faith without having theistic beliefs. Presiding Bishop Schori's retired colleague, Bishop Spong, is a good example. (See his latest book, "Jesus for the non-religious".)

As for the 2nd question, "Can and should scientific terms and notions be used to explain religion and vice versa?", the direct answer seems simple: "No."

> Mark Burgess wrote:
> The conflict arises when we try to use religion to answer scientific questions, or vice versa. For example, it's a valid scientific question to ask "how did the universe begin", but not "why was the universe created" or "who created the universe". Those are relgious questions.

Excellent points, Mark. The real problem exists at that specific intersection. Science can only go so far, and can't really answer the 'why' or 'who'. Science can only state that there is not any substantial evidence of there being a 'why' or a 'who'.

Candidate Brownback's thoughts are his own. He seems deeply sincere, yet I'm certain he's misguided while inserting a pulpit into a Presidential race.

It's not that faith is unimportant nor should be. It's that faith is not the task of government. We need governments for the purpose of getting things done in our world. Frozen to diverse belief, we fail to execute the deeds of earth when we encumber ourselves with the needs of heaven.

It not that faith isn't important. Faith is potent. Thus it must be separate from power.

America's founders carefully and courageously wanted to provide us a very great freedom for our belief and our practice. Government was not to be involved.

Government is not to make our belief, nor to make rules from our morality, nor preach or promote our religion, nor to represent faith in its relations.

Government is to be greater than that: Our government is to leave our God to us. Now, that's Divine.

As far as this retired Mechanical Engineer and Episcopalian is concerned, there is no conflict between science and religion. The age of the Universe is as science currently states it, but that doesn't mean the Bible is in error, for who but God knows if the actual length of his creating days were numbered in hours, years, or eons.

But then I believe the Bible, while being the Word of God, is not to be taken literally as its message has evolved over the millenniums and God's word has been revealed only as man has had the ability to understand it. This is the only way I can rationalize the many biblical contradictions. As time passed, man's understanding of God's purpose for us has grown and the many of those early rules no longer apply. However, I do not throw out the baby with the bath water, the Ten Commandments and Our Savior Jesus Christ's rules remain in force.

So, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor and your enemy as yourself. While doing this: feed the poor, provide for the widow and orphan, and shelter the alien.

I think don't think the question is valid... religion and science can't be at odds any more than architecture and astronomy can be at odds.

The issue is whether people think that scientific theories dealing with fundamental issues such as cosmology and evolution can contradict religious traditions... which of course they can.

I think that Senator Brownback has it write when he says "The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths." Science and religion don't attempt to answer the same questions and provide the same answers.

The conflict arises when we try to use religion to answer scientific questions, or vice versa. For example, it's a valid scientific question to ask "how did the universe begin", but not "why was the universe created" or "who created the universe". Those are relgious questions.

I'm starting to think that it's nothing more than intellectual laziness that causes people to grasp on to religious "answers" to scientific questions. It's much easier to say that God created the world in seven days than to try to understand the concepts of the expanding universe, Higgs fields, etc. etc.

Are religion and science at odds?

Without a doubt.

Any claim otherwise is either sacred-cow protectionism from a religious apologist or Chamberlainesque appeasement from a science advocate.

Can and should scientific terms and notions be used to explain religion and vice versa?

I agree with Michael that attempts to explain scientific knowledge in terms of religion sound silly and should stop. However, science is perfectly entitled to investigate any aspect of the natural world. For example, the mechanisms in the brain that give rise to religious feelings are as valid a line of enquiry as any other. Religionists who fear science squashing their god(s) into smaller and smaller gaps are right to do so.

> Are religion and science truly at odds with one another?

Of course they are. The question is better posed as 'Are religion and *reason* truly at odds with one another?'.

I believe that one can have 'faith' in an afterlife of some sorts, or a higher power and be a reasonable person. There is so much that we don't know, and I understand how religion can pull of through the tough times. The human experience is a rough one.

But as soon as that hope begins to be populated with a mythology, it is certainly not related to science in any way shape or form.

A large portion of that myth may not do any harm, but come on: science obviously doesn't stand behind the notion that God will give you a bunch of virgins for murdering the non-believers. That's fairy cake nonsense. When people choose to propagate this crap, is it not obvious why religion and reason don't get along?

> Can and should scientific terms and notions be used to explain religion and vice versa?

Absolutely not. Science should only deal with... science. That doesn't mean that religion can't be an inspiration, but you certainly can't start out by assuming that your religious beliefs are true. The burden of the evidence is on the religion.

Certain religious apologists already try and explain away scientific knowledge in religious terms. They should stop. They sound silly.

In the end, as long as a person's religious beliefs hold precedence over reason, there will be conflict.

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