Letter: Science and faith
Tim Blagg offered an observation that people of science and people of faith are frequently at odds. My first response to Tim cited the contributions scientific knowledge makes to human health. How can we love our fellow human beings (which is a core belief of many religions) if we do not know what ails them? So scientific knowledge serves to solve many kinds of vexing human conditions that are totally compatible with faith.
Additionally, science supports faith in that learning improves the capacity of the human mind to appreciate the magnificence of the universe. Modern culture is flooded with useful knowledge via the Internet. Compared to our culture, primitive belief systems appear superstitions only. But in ancient cultures people were limited to local knowledge — traditional knowledge people inherited from ancestors and they compiled beliefs by observing their surroundings. To derive meaning from human existence is a perpetual need of human beings in any culture in any century. Ancient people continually exposed to wild beasts, marauding peoples, natural disasters. They lived in a kill or be killed environment the natural law known as the “The Law of the Jungle.” The cruelty of the gods in ancient cultures reflects the cruel conditions in which people lived. Faith to ancient people was limited to what the human mind at that time had the capacity to understand about their natural environment.
Science and reason in our generation helps us create laws, detect natural disasters, and heal people of debilitating diseases. We do not live in nearly so cruel circumstances as our ancestors. Scientific knowledge and our capacity to use for the good of our fellow beings creates a world that reflects a god who is merciful and just. It is easy to believe in a merciful and just God when you see the physical evidence with your own eyes. Scientific knowledge and our capacity to reason enables us to be people that reflects God’s nature.
In the respect that science enables us to be our best selves and improve conditions in this world for our fellow human beings, science is by no means a threat to faith. Rather, science is an advocate of faith — that God is merciful and just. As we develop our capacity for reason, we can believe God is reasonable and not the product of human imagination.