Monday, April 25, 2011

science vs religion?

I seem to becoming a fan club for cosmologist Martin Rees. I have previously written about his open-mindedness and the criticisms he has received for accepting prize-money for his contribution to science and "affirming life’s spiritual dimension".

Now he has come out strongly against those who wish to pit science and religion against each other.

Rees has written Science and religion don't have to be enemies in the New Statesman, in which he argues that both religious creationists and "anti-religion campaigners" believe that science and religion are opposed. But Rees thinks both are wrong.

"Campaigning against religion can be socially counterproductive." Rees wrote. "If teachers take the uncompromising line that God and Darwinism are irreconcilable, many young people raised in a faith-based culture will stick with their religion and be lost to science."

Rees believes there is much that humans don't know, and may never know. "But I am a sceptic. If we learn anything from the pursuit of science, it is that even something as basic as an atom is quite hard to understand. We should be unsurprised that many phenomena remain unexplained, and dubious of any claim to have achieved more than a very incomplete and metaphorical insight into any profound aspect of our existence - and, especially, we should be sceptical of dogma. This is certainly why I have no religious belief."

He concludes: "Wise choices will require the effective efforts of natural scientists, environmentalists, social scientists and humanists. All must be guided by the knowledge that 21st-century science can offer - but inspired by an idealism, vision and commitment that science alone can't provide."

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