Science and Religion

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Science and Religion (SRP 420)

Science and Religion–two disciplines that at first glance seem to be completely separate modes of thought. After more careful examination one comes to realize that they bump into each other often. Indeed, science and religion seem to have a complex history involving both conflict and resolution. Many theologians, philosophers, and scientists have developed theories on how science and religion can coexist. One such man is John Polkinghorne a scientist and philosopher; he has developed his own theory on the relationship between science and religion.

In the first chapter of his book Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity Polkinghorne lays out his theory for the coexistence of science and religion. He begins by discussing the impressiveness of science and its many accomplishments. Next he goes on to discuss the truth of religion and challenges the claim that religion is simply a personal truth or an opinion, while science is fact. He quickly claims this statement is false, because making this conclusion would be a, “fundamental mistake of the most disastrous kind” (Polkinghorne, 2). This faulty conclusion about the integration of science and religion, according to Polkinghorne, has is often made because of two mistakes: about the basis of scientific knowledge and the other about religious belief.

The general mistake that has been made about science is that it is a simple process in which a prediction is formulated, an experiment is performed, and presto a new discovery is made. In actuality there is much more involved in the art of scientific discovery. For instance, scientists often do not have pure facts, but rather they are dealing with knowledge that they must interpret for themselves. To interpret knowledge, according to Polkinghorne, is often quite difficult and requires one to formulate a point of view or an opinion in order to reach a conclusion. Choosing a point of view or having an opinion requires people to be bold and...
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