Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Science and Religion

There are two ways of knowing. There is observation and revelation. Science works by observation. We do experiments and we test theories. Once a theory can be verified by observation we are forced to accept it as true. We don't mind being forced. We want to understand our world. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Ignorance gives us the freedom to believe whatever we want but we don't actually want to believe things that are false. We are lovers of truth.

Faith works by revelation. Sure there is some observation especially when it comes to examining miracles but religious theories cannot be tested by observation the same way. So we are not forced to believe. But we are still lovers of truth. So when Jesus comes along and claims to have answers we want to believe. Ignorance is freedom but we want to know the answers to life's big questions. Or do we?

Science is merely a matter of truth or ignorance. Religion has more. There is good and evil. We are lovers of good as much as we are lovers or truth. In matters of morals we sometimes prefer ignorance over truth. We know that if good and evil are made clear to us we won't be able to do evil without severe guilt. So we want to remain ignorant. God tells us that what is good will also make us happy. But we don't trust Him.

People say they embrace scientific truth because it is based on observation and reject religious truth because it is based on revelation. But is that the real reason. Often people will reject religious truth because it identifies them as a sinner. How can we know that? Look for cases where scientific truth identifies people as sinners. The science of abortion is one case. How comfortable are people with pictures of a healthy fetus and pictures of an aborted fetus? Scientific truth that identifies people as sinners is not well accepted.

What about when science requires revelation? It is not practical to do every experiment. We all need to trust what people tell us. We don't have a problem with that. Even when the experts get things wrong people don't distrust the next expert they see. In fact, many embrace herbal remedies with no research behind them because of some Chinese or Indian medical folklore. How is that different from accepting a religious tradition? Herbal medicine does not suggest anyone is a sinner.

So it is not the source of religious truth that is offensive but the destination. It aims at our hearts. It shows us how selfish we are. There is good news. We can be transformed by God's grace. But first there is bad news.

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