Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Musing... Is There Enduring Conflict Between Science and Religion?

A. N. Whitehead
When we consider what religion is for mankind and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them. Alfred North Whitehead

I'm going to indulge in some random musings...

Despite the fact that most scholars generally find the “warfare” model of science and religion historically untenable, currently about 70% of young adults believe that religion and science are incompatible. (On the inadequacy and even fallacy of the war between science and religion, see, for example, the fascinating book edited by Ron Numbers--which I'm currently reading and enjoying--Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion.)

So why is this the case? Why is it that most scholars don't see a need for, or even a history of, a war between science and religion, and yet the majority think that's how it is? Since I'd like to bring faith together with science--and in fact, represent those who believe that science can enhance our faith--these questions are particularly poignant for me.

This issues comes to mind:

  • Since young adulthood is a time to decide on career paths, if religious belief reduces the likelihood of becoming a scientist, this could pose a problem for our country (which tends to have a widespread faith in God) as we compete in the world.
I'll hazard two guesses for why the warfare model endures in popular culture:

  1. We have a sense that science works with theories that have testable claims, and that these claims are settled to some degree by imagination and the way the answers conform to beauty (beautiful mathematical equations, that type of thing), but ultimately science depends on reason. Religious faith possesses an added ingredient, which at its best, does, not deny reason, but knows when to transcend reason alone. With Blaise Pascal, I affirm that reason knows when to submit to truths beyond it.
  2. Secondly, the ongoing dispute between conservative Christians and evolutionary science reinforces the warfare thesis. According to a recent Pew poll, 64% of evangelical Christians reject evolution. The fact is that there are few--very few--scientists that reject evolution as a guiding scientific theory. So it's not unreasonable  for the public to see religion and science at odds.
What am I trying to do about changing these perceptions and seeing science and religion and mutually enhancing--and challenging ways--that we understand God. The Scientists in Congregations website tells one story. And I hope in future posts to say more. Who knows? There might even be a future book on the topic...

Friday, August 08, 2014

Five Controversial Things I’ve Learned From C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis remains unbelievably popular, selling more books today than when he was alive (1898-1963). Time even named him today's "hottest theologian" a few years ago. And yet, as I've done research for my upcoming book, I've discovered that he is often misread and, if he's properly understood, he could be amazingly controversial.

Here's a sketch of five of those topics, written in lapidary form, which I hope to expand to a full-on post some day soon.

1.     I’ve learned from Lewis that that materialism is an ongoing, ancient threat to good philosophy and human flourishing. It is nothing new. It also needs to be continually resisted.

2.     Lewis did not read the Bible as an evangelical. For him, the Bible did not equal the Word of God; it “carried” the word of God.

3.     Lewis was very clear about the danger of feelings, which we often associated with the “heart.” To split the “heart” and the “head” is contrary to good spiritual practice and Jesus’s teachings. It is also dangerous to be guided by our emotions.

4.     Lewis taught me that there is a common stock of ethics for all humankind.

5.     Suffering is a tremendous problem for the believer, but it is only faith in God that offers suffering a purpose.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

20 Tips on Saying Yes to No

Last night I came across a list of twenty tips on how to say yes to no (which, of course, is form the book of the same name). 
I thought it was worth posting...

  1. Always say No mindful of a clearer Yes 
  2. Say No with compassion
  3. Say No with conviction
  4. When someone asks for a task you can't do, say No and find a substitute for yourself
  5. Remember Nos sometimes take courage to carry out
  6. True success means being on the right path and saying No to the wrong ones
  7. Recall that No = focus
  8. The art of negation: For Michelangelo to sculpt the David he had to chisel away at the raw marble. We need to chisel away with Nos to find the hidden masterpiece 
  9. Keep your Nos in front of you
  10. Keep Nos strategic
  11. Be open when life says No
  12. Use the power of No to restrict technology's reach
  13. Say No to work and obligations 30 minutes/day and one day a week (breakouts or mini-Sabbaths)
  14. Say No to control (or pray "let it be")
  15. No who you are: live with integrity
  16. Say yes to No lies to yourself or anyone else
  17. Say yes to No toxic relationships
  18. In order to know your spouse you've got to say No to infidelity
  19. Keep in mind you're always saying No to something
  20. Beyond saying the right Nos lies God's Yes for you