Religion, Science and Secular Reason


This review essay of two recent books provides a useful introduction to some of the philosophical problems surrounding the compatibility of religion and science.  Prof. Coyne thinks that religion and science can never really be made compatible – but is this right?  How might one form an ‘indirect’ response to this kind of  view?

It would appear, then, that one cannot be coherently religious and scientific at the same time. That alleged synthesis requires that with one part of your brain you accept only those things that are tested and supported by agreed-upon evidence, logic, and reason, while with the other part of your brain you accept things that are unsupportable or even falsified. In other words, the price of philosophical harmony is cognitive dissonance. Accepting both science and conventional faith leaves you with a double standard: rational on the origin of blood clotting, irrational on the Resurrection; rational on dinosaurs, irrational on virgin births.


One Response to “Religion, Science and Secular Reason”

  1. 1 Maxx

    This quote is interesting, but highly questionable, for the very first statement itself cannot be proven – scientifically. It also assumes a priori that the synthesis in question requires a separation of thesis (science) and antithesis (religion) or vice versa. There is also a categorical fallacy committed in the comparisons of blood clotting and dinosaurs and the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth. The first two occasions are naturally based; the second two are supernaturally based. Science can address the first two as a legitimate tool, but is unqualified to make any determinations concerning the latter two.

    W. V. O. Quine once said, “science is the final arbiter of all truth.” Unfortunately for the late Dr. Quine, you cannot prove this statement scientifically either. Scientism has become its own religion complete with doctrine, liturgy, orthodoxy, etc… It seems as if one way or the other, human beings are wired to adhere to systems of beliefs that cannot be tested in a test tube – even scientists and philosophers.

    As this quotation cannot be proven scientifically, it is therefore not a scientific proclamation, but philosophical exclamation. Therefore, it lays itself open bare to debate. As far as believing that which is unsupportable or even falsified, it might be a good time to remember that there have been a number of hoax’s perpetrated in the name of the theory of evolution, and it still remains the dominant model of explanation and belief in the secular university.


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