Can you be a person of faith and a person of science?

Or

Can the two things not mesh inside of the same person?

I would like to think that one can be both a person of faith and a person of science, but it doesn’t always appear that others think this way. For some reason, we have begun to think that faith and science are diametrically opposed: that a person who regularly practices a religion can not possibly understand science, and vice versa.

But is that really the case?

Of course there are science deniers- those who will revel every time science gets it wrong. And of course there are others who will go out of their way to espouse that there is no higher power because it doesn’t make sense or can’t be proved. But the average person: do they really have to pick a lane?

I was raised Catholic, but not the church going sort. Baptized, communion, confession, confirmation: check, check, check and check- but Sunday mornings found us watching Abbott and Costello movies on channel 11. Catholic, but it was just a word for me.

As I aged I began to distrust organized religion. FYI- this goes for all religions. I thought of religion as a way to separate us from one another. Another form of labels. Why did we need to find ourselves different from others? Can’t we look for the commonality?

But before I go off on a tangent…

Just because I don’t “practice” religion on a daily basis doesn’t mean I don’t have faith.

It does not mean I do not believe in God.

Yet…

I also believe in science.

I am a big believer in proof. I love a good if/than statement. I am always searching for answers, conducting my own sort of research projects.

I am always analyzing data.

Always.

It’s what I do best, my superpower. I look at variables and I come to conclusions based on the evidence before me…

But that doesn’t preclude me from thinking that there is a higher power…

Before you can have proof, don’t you need to have some sort of faith?

Didn’t early explorers have faith that the earth was round?

But that’s my opinion. I have no evidence to be right or wrong, I only know how I feel.

But what do you think?

Do you think that science and faith can be found on the same shelf?

What do you think of the quote?

Discuss…

Two songs today cause I forgot yesterday

81 thoughts on “Can You be Both at Once

  1. It’s a false choice, LA. The two have nothing to do with one another. Many scientists have religious faith, too. Many don’t. Science and religion aren’t in any way mutually exclusive. But a scientist will not take creation stories literally. They will see it more metaphorically. They understand that belief in God is a matter of faith, not something that can be empirically proven by scientific methods. I devoted a blog piece to this subject. https://myricopia.com/2018/03/27/science-and-belief/

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    1. I read this quote and I thought it was interesting that people feel that you can’t be both. The character in the book is a Doctor who was raised in a very religious family. It really showed how she was questioned about her faith. I don’t know why we feel the need to label and sort.

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  2. There is no deep conflict between science and religion, but there is a conflict between naturalism (a form of atheism) and religion. Alvin Plantinga addressed the issue in his book “Where the Conflict Really Lies”. He pointed out that there is an ignored deep conflict between naturalism and science if one accepts the random evolutionary argument as it applies to our minds. However, that gets swept under the rug, because the real motivation is to attack religion.

    Plantinga’s argument is called the “evolutionary argument against naturalism”. The idea of the conflict itself originates from atheist sources in the 19th century to discredit religion. It is called the “conflict thesis”.

    C.S. Lewis addressed much of this earlier in his book “Miracles”. Lewis also introduced the general idea of pantheism. New age spirituality would be a modern form of this pantheism. Naturalism is opposed to both Judeo-Christianity and pantheism. When people reject naturalism, they often slip into pantheism as Lewis himself did early on before he became a Christian.

    As a mathematician and a Christian I don’t see any real conflict between science and religion. They approach reality differently. They will not always agree, but that tension is important to both. It is especially important to science which is empirical and provisional. Naturalism by contrast is neither empirical nor provisional. It is a metaphysical doctrine that denies the supernatural. It is a kind of denialism that wants to monopolize science and does so to a large extent culturally today.

    Anyway, that’s my view. If you want more information, just search the parts I put in quotes.

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  3. I define, or label myself as an atheist. I do not believe in an entity or being (human form or otherwise) that holds power over humanity. My belief in the creation of god(s) as a part of any society or culture is tied to adaptation and a need among humans to explain aspects of their culture and life that would otherwise seem inexplicable. I can understand and appreciate why societies, cultures, and individuals find and turn to a faith-based system. I can also appreciate logic, science and fact. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive, nor should they be politicized to cause polarization.

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    1. That’s I think what is happening. We are politicizing things in order to find more ways to separate us. We are entering a society where we are supposed to embrace our individuality and personal beliefs yet we are also supposed to conform to the herd. If we are supposed to be and think whatever we want without condemnation, why are we condemning?

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      1. As Isaac Asimov is quoted as having said something like, many Americans’ idea of democracy is that their ignorance is just as good as someone else’s knowledge. Just as now 50% of Republicans are reported to believe that the election has been stolen. I can’t help with that, I can just feel very, very sad that things got this way.

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      2. We could go back and forth on stats. Or we could say that maybe having people divided is a good thing…for some. Lots of people say that republicans are uneducated. Lots say Democrats are really socialists. What happens when we pigeon hole based on stereotypes? Are blondes more stupid than brunettes? Did millennials ruin everything? Are boomers out of touch?

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      3. You’re right. It’s horrible. And it’s not going to get any better because both sides keep name calling. Both sides are horrible. Each side thinks they’re right without ever thinking there’s another answer. As long as people think they’re 100% right, nothing is going to be solved. People don’t want to compromise. So in two years the right takes the house. Two year they take the presidency. Two years the left takes Congress. Two years left takes presidency. And nothing changes except addresses. But we can keep yelling at each other saying the other side is stupid. The fall of every great civilization is hubris. Everyone here thinks they know everything

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      4. I just googled her. She’s Ghanaian-American, educated at U of Iowa and Stanford, won acclaim for her first novel, Homegoing, in 2016 at age26. Maybe I’ll give that novel a read!

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      5. It’s excellent. One of the better things I read this year. And incredibly thought provoking. The whole thing is about the push pull of science vs religion as she’s a doctor but also raised devoutly (the character is I mean)

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  4. I do think it is possible, but I also think it is not always common, or at least not common for a balance of strongly held views on both science and faith. Way too often you see those that choose to denounce or deny science are also those that are deeply entrenched or extreme in their faith while those of a strong science mind not following a faith they feel has no scientific evidence, so it is easy to assume that the two are not compatible.

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  5. I completely agree our culture tries to force sides on this issue. Science and faith can coexist quite well if the minds are open. I’ve read two books that are exceptional at melding the two together.
    The Language of God by Francis Collins (he’s a scientist who led the Human Genome Project from 1993 until 2008.)
    Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life by Alister McGrath
    Everything by CS Lewis, being a former atheist, are wonderful reads and make so much sense. Many people have been turned off from attending worship services because of previous bad experiences. I get that. We are fortunate to have found a church that embraces both scripture and science in a way that deepens faith as well as brings insight from a scientific perspective in many cases. They livestream so if you’re interested……… xoxoxo

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  6. You can be both. It’s not like one is the antithesis of the other. They’re just overlapping ways of seeing the world. And a good way for news organizations to gin up interest in their 11:00 news segments.

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  7. Absolutely! My husband is a great example. He is a (rather brilliant) physicist and also a man of strong faith. I don’t think believers (whatever they believe in) are nearly as skeptical of science as the world tries to make us/them out to be. The science deniers are certainly out there, but I don’t believe that they represent even a shred of the majority of people of faith.

    There is much truth and enlightenment to be learned in the sciences. By the same token, I think it demonstrates an even deeper level of intelligence and great humility when we acknowledge that maybe we don’t and will never know all of the mysteries of the universe. I personally love to learn, and never want to close myself off to any possibilities.

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  8. Faith OR science is a false choice for all but those who are fundamentalists in either camp. Both science and religion teach us the power of wonder at the beauty of the universe, and those inclined to see humankind as part of a cosmic story can plunge into both science and deep faith with humility.

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  9. I this question, and extolled about it, and then my comment was lost. So, if this shows up twice, my apologies. I LOVE this question; and believe that, yes, science and religion (or faith, or spirituality) can live inside of someone, both at the same time, as they do for me. I believe people socially construct difference (by creating distinctions in language between the two) to create speicaliness for their message. However, I believe they are both the same. One thing. Great question. Fun! Have a great Friday, and weekend. 🙂

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    1. You’re right to phrase it like that…religion or faith or spirituality because they are all different ways of believing in something without proof. But I’d like to hope they coexist…

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      1. Agreed. And, when you really look at it (life) down to the smallest molecule, in fact, in quantum physics the distinctions between “faith” and “science” start to disappear. Literally. Again, wonderful question, fantastic discussion and conversation. Have a great weekend, LA.

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  10. I think you can be both. I was raised Catholic, 12 years Catholic School as well but I am non practicing now. That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith though. I have a scientific mind but I also don’t believe all things can be explained by science. Nor do I believe all things my Catholic upbringing has taught me. I guess maybe faith is for what lies in between the two.

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  11. Unquestionably both. It’s only a question for a) those who are told they can’t and b) those who don’t know they can. I’ve taken a very deep dive into the subject, and feel very comfortable with my acceptance of both. After all, young-Earth Creationist Christians give God so little credit. Imagine that.

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  12. Absolutely, a scientist can be a person of faith, and someone who is a person of faith can use science in thinking about things. Bottom line: let’s don’t put people in boxes and slap on a label. Nor should we do the same thing with science and religion. They can support each other. To view them in competition can result in a false worldview.

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  13. I have no problem believing in both, and neither do most people I know! As someone else said in the comment section, the only scientists or religious people who think you have to pick one or the other must be rather extreme in their views. In my opinion, they mesh up just fine!

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    1. One would hope. I always heard the jokes on Big Bang Theory where the scientist was always mocking his Christian mother, then I read the book and I began to wonder if people really feel the two sides don’t mesh. Figured it was worth talking about

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  14. I think both are easily compatible. Even if you go back to the Big Bang theory and say everything on this Earth evolved from that point forward, a spiritual Source could have set it all in motion to begin with and could be continuing to oversee it all. It’s really not that tough, although people do tend to anthropomorphize and want to attach human characteristics to spiritual beings, which seems implausible to me. I also believe that there are certain universal truths to be found in all brands of religions and one can accept those without claiming one God or belief system is superior to another. All religions can be compatible as well. I think quantum physics is a purely spiritual science – they are describing the existence and properties of sub-atomic particles based upon observed effects – we cannot see the particles, but we accept their existence on the basis of faith 🙂 I think you observed earlier, some people seem to like to separate themselves in ways that create opposing forces that really never existed.

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  15. Yay! We’re all in the same camp, here! 🙂

    Where I diverge is in saying there shouldn’t be organized religion. I think there should be. That said, I disagree with where religious power gets exerted sometimes.

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  16. I attended Catholic schools for 12 years, and had some great science teachers along the way. I had a priest that taught us the Creation story was more metaphorical than literal. I think centuries ago religion hasn’t always been supportive of science.

    I think there are a portion of Christians that are distrustful of modern medicine and science. With the pandemic they are more visible and crazier than ever.

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  17. I’ll add my recent experience to most of the comments here. Where I lived recently, in Oak Ridge, TN, I was amazed to find that most of the physicists I met there were also regular churchgoers.

    Thanks also for sharing music selections in your posts. I don’t know many of the newer artists or much of their work. I do know that I like both TS and JL and their work.

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    1. I think music is so important to culture because it truly reflects the voice of a generation. It’s so fun to see the evolution of music and how each generation has its own sound and way of expressing things

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