Faithful to Science

blog on science and religion

Month: October 2014

What is the story of life on Earth?

Well, it is the evolutionary story, of course. The story of simple beginnings, and gradual development; the story of characteristics inherited through genes, with slight adjustments that accumulate over the generations. The story of finite lifespan in an environment offering limited resources, with the consequent filtering process known as natural selection. All this can be discovered by scientific research, and it has been so discovered by all the people who joined in with the mainstream scientific community.

But what is the story of this story? What kind of a narrative do we have here? Is it tragedy? Or a comedy of errors? Or a heroic epic? Or farce? Or is it a tale of boundless exploration? Or a triumph of the aggressive? Or a triumph of the adaptable? Is it the story of brute force? Or is it the story of courage in spite of brute force? A story of increasing depth of experience? Is it a good story? Is it a story of good? Is it good?

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The Eager Gene

In the animated film Shrek ( PDI/DreamWorks 2001) there is a memorable scene in which the ogre Shrek asks if anyone knows where to find the ruler Farquaad, and Donkey jumps up and down shouting out “Pick me! Pick me! Me! Me!” It is memorable because Shrek does not particularly want to pick Donkey, and because Donkey is brought so much to life by the actor Eddie Murphy, in what must rank as one of the greatest ever animation voice-overs, and because we recognize the scene. It is the scene played out in classrooms, sports-fields, magic shows, family parties, toddler groups, wherever a bunch of eager children want to have a go at something that looks fun, though they don’t necessarily know what it may involve.

180px-shrek_donkey

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Making something of the world

So far my posts in this blog have been concerned with treading carefully around the meaning of words like “religion”. I have pointed out the dangers of tribalism, and I have offered the term reconnection for anyone who has been taught to equate religion to superstition and tribalism. It is time to say something more about the good that is continuously finding expression in the world, and also continuously being thwarted, but responding with generosity and, in people who campaign for justice, creative anger. This good is what we embody when we are at our best. This is what we fail to live up to when we are at our worst. This is what makes demands, and can legitimately make demands on us, because to recognise the legitimacy of the call to make the world better is what being fully alive involves. Continue reading

Religion and Reconnection

I just typed “science and religion” into google, and clicked on “images”. What I got was a deluge of pictures, cartoons and dismissive (sometimes vitriolic) statements, almost all selling the view summed up in examples such as:

“Religion will never understand science and science will never give a shit about religion.”

“Science: always doubt; always question; when challenged, replies with evidence. Religion: no doubt, no question; when challenged, becomes hostile.”

“Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” (sometimes attributed to Richard Dawkins, but I think it originated with Victor Stenger)

Whatever happened to Albert Einstein’s more measured voice? Or Martin Luther King? Or Gandhi?    Continue reading

Faithful to Science

In addition to photons and electrons, quarks and gluons, and things like that, there are other realities we have to reckon with, things like logic and mathematics, aesthetics, and also moral principles. For example, the principle that you shouldn’t squash, bribe, degrade, impoverish, do violence to or in any way objectify other people, but rather nourish, encourage, respect, feed, protect and pay attention to them. Continue reading

Science, religion and tribalism

The blog is intended to give people a way in, in a briefer format than is typical for a book. I have already given some book-length thoughts, and I intend to discuss some issues at greater length eventually in another book, but here I will offer an introductory comment on the two activities called science and religion. Continue reading

Starting the blog

This blog is just starting out. It is in the area of science and religion. Somebody invited me to say in one hundred words what I think the relationship between them is. If you will allow me 120 words, then here is my attempt:

Some worldviews called religious see all goodness, including love, integrity and language, and also mathematics and logic, as emanating from a dynamic creative reality. This reality supports but is not part of the natural world, interacting with it in various ways, at precisely that balance of hint and clarity as makes it possible for humans to respond freely. We find this to be a reality which meets us on every level, including the personal. This is our truest parent. Scientific analysis shows us the patterns which make the natural world what it is. That world is open to agency from humans and other creatures, and from its ultimate support. Our truest parent’s role is, chiefly, compassionate comradeship and creative inspiration.

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