Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wisdom from Austin Cline

Something that Austin Cline from wrote was so good that I am going to "enshrine" it on my blog:


The conflicts between religious faith and empirical science seems to be continual, but just as continual are the efforts to find some middle ground where both can co-exist. It's important for many Americans to find a way to bridge the gulf between traditional Christian faith and modern science, but can this be done? If it can be done, should it be done?

Science undermines the human conceit that the universe is or should be structured according to human whim. Science reveals that the universe is wholly indifferent to us, our desires, and even our suffering. Science also provides the means by which we ourselves can cause changes or alleviate suffering, but only by working with nature and with the way the universe is structured.

We cannot, for example, turn away a hurricane but we can use science to predict them and build structures better able to withstand the onslaught of the storm. Despite this, people pray for hurricanes to turn away and they visit astrologers who tell them how to avoid problems. Why? Because they believe that the movement of stars and atoms can be affected merely from the desire that it be so.

Science presents us with a stark choice about how to approach the world around us. One the one hand we can continue with the prayers that arise out of the wish that the order of the universe might rearrange itself according to the preferences or our hearts or, on the other hand, we can move forward with the scientific project of learning more about the universe and, therefore, learning how we can better make our homes with what we have.

Religion has never cured a disease, protected people from a storm, or saved anyone from the ravages of old age. Science, however, has made tremendous gains with all of these and more. There is a reason for that.


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