Emotions can run high in the debate between religion and science. Just take a look at the high-profile campaign in the United States to teach ‘Intelligent Design’ in schools. But is conflict inevitable because both sides are showing blind faith in their own version of reality?
Blind faith of scientists who deny a purposive life source
Despite the victory of Darwinism over creationism, it is hard to see how adaption from something like a single cell through natural selection can give an account for the development of human self-reflection, courage, honesty, ethical insight, ideology, altruism, and resistance to temptation. This is not to deny the truth about the facts of nature that science can reveal. But should we not also acknowledge the deeper side of human life revealed inwardly to those of a spiritual bent. To my mind, human consciousness derives from the human soul absent in other forms of life.
Those who believe that the origin of human existence is a spiritual Life Source are aware however that science firmly favours Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which is based on natural selection and chance factors in reproduction. Survival of the fittest means all human beings together with all animal life have descended from some one primordial form. Science it seems has no room for spiritual ideas such as a purposeful human creation.
Blind faith of creationists
The Darwinian view has easily seen off the creationists, who to my mind have failed to notice the allegorical nature of the Genesis story. By this I mean that the story of the beginning of the world and the Garden of Eden is not a physics and biology lesson but rather a psycho-spiritual one.
Some modern theologians see the first few chapters in Genesis as a symbolic representation of the origin and dynamic development of the human psyche and its consciousness in relation to its Source; an ageless model of each of us created in the image and likeness of God. Thus arguably the Garden of Eden is a picture of the state of trust in and obedience to God and the fall of humanity into reliance on self-intelligence and self-orientation.
To my way of thinking the Bible as a whole, if inwardly understood, shows the spiritual journey of humanity returning to a state of innocence. We have a tree of life in the first book Genesis and in the last book Revelation, both I think representing the reality seen through the depths of one’s spirit. Understanding about life
‘coming from a God-given rationality, structured yet full of vitality and dynamism.”
(Helen Brown Do spiritual symbols mean anything today?)
According to this view trust in the Source is not one based on ignorance but is one with rational understanding — no blind faith but rather a realistic perception about meaning and purpose that takes into account all our understanding about life as a whole.
More people these days are rejecting the blind faith of religion expressed in traditional superstitions and unreasonable dogmas. People are more likely to want their spiritual intuition to be confirmed by rational discussion. Only the creationist will assume scripture is always literally true. I am arguing that people want answers to life’s issues informed by scientific education and the reasoning of common sense, as well as by spiritual knowledge and insight.
When theological doctrines such as creationism are seen to lack realistic sense, then I guess religion will start to be side-lined by those who use their rational minds.
Blind faith in scientific theories limited by naturalistic assumptions
I notice that likewise some scientists claim that random processes created human life rather than any creative design. Is this not because there can be no scientific instruments to observe purpose and meaning? And because science is limited by its assumption that knowledge is limited to natural things like fossils and genes? I can’t imagine how there might be any scientific proof that science is the only means of acquiring valid knowledge.
Likewise when scientific theoretical concepts appear unlinked to the results of research then even to scientists they will seem more like fantasy than reality.
I wonder if you would agree with the following statement? In its naturalistic explanations and focus on the question ‘how?’ science deals with the level of thinking of the external rational mind, whereas, religion, with its focus on meaning and the question ‘why?’, appeals to the inner rational mind.
In other words when rationally presented, perhaps both science and religion are useful for communicating different aspects of human knowledge and understanding: science for the outer, time-related, natural life and religion for the inner timeless spiritual life.
Blind faith due to arrogance
Does trouble not arise when some theologians or some scientists believe they know it all? Religion got it wrong in the past about the earth being at the centre of the solar system and today creationists claim the world was made in seven days despite all the evidence of science to the contrary.
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Galileo Galilei (1600–1670)
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
Scientists as much as religious people can fall into the trap of blind faith.
Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems