Science and Religion - Compatabile?

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TDC

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It seems alot of people scoff at this idea, but I have come to the realization that the laws of science lead one to believe that there is a higher power. This epiphany first occurred to me sitting in my physics class, a lesson on electricity and magnetism. I don’t want to turn this into a physics lesson, but the laws between the two are quite intriguing and elegant, to me at least. And the elegance of the laws then led me to believe that it was by the design of a higher power. Since then, I’ve further noticed the balance and beauty of other laws in the physical world, which has only reinforced my belief. I was just curious if anyone else had any kind of similar observations or reflections. Most people bring up evolution - of which I do not know a whole lot and don’t feel comfortable commenting on- but I don’t want to turn this into an evolution thread, really. And sorry if I have violated some protocol here if this has been covered before or something, I have just joined here.
 
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TDC:
It seems alot of people scoff at this idea, but I have come to the realization that the laws of science lead one to believe that there is a higher power. This epiphany first occurred to me sitting in my physics class, a lesson on electricity and magnetism. I don’t want to turn this into a physics lesson, but the laws between the two are quite intriguing and elegant, to me at least. And the elegance of the laws then led me to believe that it was by the design of a higher power.
This is true that even the most simple thing is more complex than most people can imagine. The world CAN’T be the result of a bunch of random events. Besides, nature doesn’t work that way. Matter doesn’t go from a simpler form to a more complex form without some sort of influence (2nd law of thermodynamics, I think).

One thing that I like to think about is “what else could God have made?” It really makes you realize the limits of our human nature and the infinite knowledge and power of God. For example…there are three states of matter. What if God had made a fourth? What would it be? Could we, as humans, even THINK of something completely different and original from the current three? I can’t. Our thoughts are limited to this world that God created.
 
Indeed, the complexity of design was one of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for God’s existance. For the most part, the argument has been that an eye cannot have just formed due to its sheer complexity. I hear that DNA stores information almost like a computer disk does. Such things make me wonder how anyone could not believe in a God. Even in my skepical years, I tended to avoid this subject. I just couldn’t bring myself to blame everything on chance.
 
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funkyhorn:
This is true that even the most simple thing is more complex than most people can imagine. The world CAN’T be the result of a bunch of random events. Besides, nature doesn’t work that way. Matter doesn’t go from a simpler form to a more complex form without some sort of influence (2nd law of thermodynamics, I think).

One thing that I like to think about is “what else could God have made?” It really makes you realize the limits of our human nature and the infinite knowledge and power of God. For example…there are three states of matter. What if God had made a fourth? What would it be? Could we, as humans, even THINK of something completely different and original from the current three? I can’t. Our thoughts are limited to this world that God created.
I have actually thought the same thing. What if gravity didn’t exist? There is no reason it should exist. What if Earth was located a little bit farther away, or a little bit closer? One could come up with infinitely many questions.
Yeah, that is the 2nd law of thermodynamics which generally says that processes go towards a state of greater disorder.
 
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Sanosuke:
Indeed, the complexity of design was one of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for God’s existance. For the most part, the argument has been that an eye cannot have just formed due to its sheer complexity. I hear that DNA stores information almost like a computer disk does. Such things make me wonder how anyone could not believe in a God. Even in my skepical years, I tended to avoid this subject. I just couldn’t bring myself to blame everything on chance.
Do you have any recommendations for reading Aquinas? He’s probably someone I should read.
 
Catechism says there should be no conflict since nature and faith have the same source, the Creator God (see CCC paragraphs 159, 283-284).

Different ways to resolve the supposed conflict, one is to pose a double-magisteria, or as Stephen Gould calls it NOMA = Non-Overlapping Magisteria, one for religion (which is dogmatic), one for science (which is tentative), and the one doesn’t tread on the other’s territory. Seems to be somewhat the position in the Catechism above: Science doesn’t deal in purpose, morality, or meaning which is what religion is for (“which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences…”).

Some argue (Dembski) that science can detect “design” and therefore “intelligent design” is scientific, while others (Miller) disagree. Books I am reading or have read on this subject:

Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? edited by Paul Kurtz with many contributers (Prometheus, 2003)
Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould (Ballantine Books, 1999)
Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology by William A. Dembski (Intervarsity Press, 1999)
Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe by Dembski, Meyer, Behe (Ignatius, 2000)
Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller (Cliff Street Books, 1999, 2000)

These are probably some of the better, newer books, many of them dealing with the creation-evolution issue, along with science in general. The Miller book responds to both Phil Johnson (Darwin on Trial, other books) and Mike Behe (Darwin’s Black Box), while the Ignatius book replies to Miller (in an appendix). Obviously there are also older classics that discuss the supposed conflict of science and religion.

Phil P
 
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TDC:
Do you have any recommendations for reading Aquinas? He’s probably someone I should read.
Definitely Summa Theologica , his greatest work
 
Scinece and religion are both about thruth and Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free…
 
The problem with science, since the time of Darwin especially, is that many scientists have come to advocate science as the exclusive method of finding truth. For example, Thomas Edison said he found no scientific evidence for the existence of God. This is an astounding statement coming from so brilliant a genius, yet it is typical of the way many scientists think today. Do they expect to find God on a slide at the end of a microscope or a cloud at the end of a telescope? Do they expect to find God in a test tube?

It is this arrogant and exclusive methodology that fuels the disproportionate number of atheists in the scientific community as opposed to the general population.
 
TDC I have always felt, even as a little boy that science was just Gods way of doing things. He is an ordered God. By learning science we are learning about him and his ways. If we see controversy between science and God then it’s just because we don’t understand either as well as we think.
 
“Science can purify religion from error and superstition.
Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes” 1987
John Paul II
 
I left the Church late in high school. It was while studying the philosophy of science (among other things) that God drew me back to the Church. You get my vote for the compatibility of science and religion!
 
I’m going through college to be a biotechnologist. And to see all the science, the chemical reactions that occur in the body, why the body works, how food is used etc. makes me believe in God more because nothing this complex and completely efficient could have derived from random events.
 
As CS Lewis points out in Mere Christianity, **scientific **truth is based on observation. Since much of the universe’s origins is beyond observation, neither materialism nor religion can provide a scientific proof. However, truth is still attainable through our knowledge of human nature (which points toward a moral force outside of ourselves) and by a logical approach to the possibilities for the existence of a material world (for example, rates of evolution and irreducibly complex systems).

Science and religion must be compatible since both should be firmly grounded in reality. (If the supernatural is independent form the natural, then Christ’s incarnation is rather curious.) If they fail to meet this requirement, then our faith is a ruse or science is in error or misrepresented (by the National Academy of Science for one). Which do we put our faith in?
lr
 
Can someone help me find in the Bible where it says something to the effect that even those who have not heard the word of God can be made aware of His presence simply by observing the heavens and the Earth which proclaim His existence? I know this isn’t the exact quote but I’ve read something similar to this in the Bible I think and would like to find it again. It certainly speaks to the topic of this thread as it acknowledges our powers of observation (science) also lead us to a belief in God (religion).
 
TDC, as someone has already recommended, read as much Summa as possible. 🙂 You can find the text at newadvent.org. He doesn’t write volumes on individual topics like some people do, but he gives a very orderly and logical definition of Catholic doctrine. The stuff on the complexity of design would be found in his five proofs for God’s existance. I also found his stuff on the Eucharist, grace, and Baptism to be very good (those are also the only sections which I have read it full, too).
 
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TDC:
Do you have any recommendations for reading Aquinas? He’s probably someone I should read.
I thoroughly endorse the suggestions that you read the Summa Theologica, but it is dry and cumbersome. It is the essence of Catholic theology about the nature of God, of angels, of man , of virtue, of sin, and much more.

However, I suggest you first read a four-volume work by Father Walter Farrell, O.P., S.T.Lr., S.T.D., Member of the Thomistic Institute, called, **A Companion To The Summa. ** It is the entire Summa retold in narrative form. It is outstanding and very true to the work of St. Thomas. It was published by Sheed & Ward, New York, but it’s out of print and they have declined to reprint it. However, it is available online from the Dominicans at:

op.org/farrell/companion

From this site you can download both the Summa and the Companion. There are some minor errors in the Companion, evidently caused by scanning to a transcribing program without editing. Occassionally you will find an “in” coming out as an “on” and sometimes longer words slightly garbled, but nothing so great that a second read of the sentence will not correct.

St. Thomas develops proof of the existence of God from rigid deductions and clear implications from FACTS. He proves God is the absolutely necessary being, He is the unmoved first mover, the uncaused first cause, the necessarily perfect Being, and the Supreme Intelligence at the root of order in the Universe. And that’s just in the first chapters of Volume One.

I strongly recommend The Companion To The Summa. In addition, regarding “evolution,” I recommend The Death of Evolution by Wallace Johnson, TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC., Rockford, IL 61105.
 
<< regarding “evolution,” I recommend The Death of Evolution by Wallace Johnson, TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC., Rockford, IL 61105. >>

Only problem is, evolution isn’t dying. Although its been “declared dead” by many outside the scientific community over 150 years (since Darwin). I wouldn’t trust anything on this topic from TAN books. Good theology books, bad science. See this article by former young-earth creationist, now old-earth evolutionist Glenn Morton

Longest Running Lie in Creationism

Cliffs Notes on Evidence for Evolution

Phil P
 
Another AMAZING tidbit I learned is very interesting. It seems as though everything is made of LIGHT. Think about it, no matter what you burn, all that comes out is light, nothing else. The smaller we get in the atoms, the more simple it gets, and the more we find out matter is made of LIGHT.
 
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