Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The clash of science and religion, in its 'discussions' section posed the following question to its readers, under the title of The Clash of Scientific Understanding and Religious Truth:

"Rabbi Soloveitchik suggests that the controversy isn't between evolution and creationism, nor is it whether God exists. The issue at heart is that man cannot be both made in the divine image and be equal to other species.

Are you convinced? Does human capacity for understanding our physical world separate us from everything or do biological similarities trump religion? Can science and religion ultimately be synthesized?"

I responded:

I think the Reb is a bit inaccurate in his thinking here. Science can not, and will not extinguish the divine spark in humans. That spark is an existential fact, tho many may not be attuned to it. Neither will science diminish our (apparent) higher consciousness of the divine; that is, higher as compared to other animals. The conflict between science and religion is really not about truth. It is about modes of thinking, and authority.

As for authority, the transfer of power from religious institutions to secular ones (or vice versa), was and is a turf war. The dogs will fight.

I think the more interesting issue is modes of thought. Put in its simplest terms, science asks how, and religion asks why. For example, we would not go to an evolutionary biologist to get an answer to why we humans exist. We would rather ask how we (probably) came to exist here. We would ask 'why are we here?' to a person who specializes in addressing questions of ethics and values.

However, the 2 modes of thinking are critically dependent. The Hebrew Bible often addresses the issue of how, and produces anecdotal evidence to describe the process. For example, Beraysheet/Genesis begins as a clearly scientific text, addressing the issues of origin of the universe (1:1+), origin (and evolution) of species (1:11+), origin of culture (2:16+, 6:18+, and other places), and origin of nations (10:1+). Science has filled in a great deal of detail in some areas.

But the evolutionists (and I am being specific here for the sake of brevity), for all their focus on process, have failed to grasp and work with an essential fact: there is a (divine) gradient to nature. What drives evolution, a process that goes from simple to more complex? There is no survival advantage in greater complexity. Indeed, it violates the principles of inertia and entropy. Specifically, "life" appears to be non-inertial in its behavior. There are no physics to answer the questions of what sets life in motion, what resists it, and what impels it. Life is anti-entropic in its trajectory towards greater complexity and organization. The evolutionists simply ignore these essential "details" and not a few other issues as well.

In sum, there is no conflict between science and religion, even tho there are many foolish and uninformed (or ideologically pre-formed) people on both sides.