I was at the laundromat messing around on my phone a few days ago, and I wrote this, and I'm reposting it with a few edits to save myself precious time. I don't usually do homework on Sundays but today I went to six hours of church and a linger-longer and a nursing home, and after this I would like to read some Legend of Zelda fan fiction before bed. So I'm not lazy, I'm efficient.
This week I read part of a really dumb article by some guy claiming to be a professor about "5 Conflicts Between Science and Religion". I won't show the undue respect of repeating his name or linking to his article, but you can easily Google it if your heart so desires. It's several months old but showed up in my phone suggestions amid the Star Wars and Legend of Zelda stuff for some reason. Since clicking on it, I've gotten several more (fortunately less dumb) articles on the topic. This author rightly condemns creationism and intelligent design as pseudoscience, but that's as much as I agreed with, as the rest of what I read is shockingly ignorant.
He claims, for example, that interpreting the "days" in Genesis as hundreds of millions of years is a recent interpretation "forced into existence by science". Um, no, the Hebrew word translated as "day" literally means an unspecified period of time. This book, vastly removed from us in time and culture, was written to be largely allegorical, and many Christian thinkers for several centuries up to and including today recognized that. For example, St. Augustine (who predated Darwin by a few years, if I recall correctly), wrote that parts of Genesis that seem to be "at variance with the perceptions of [one's] own rational faculties... are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures". The absurdly literal fundamentalist interpretation, notwithstanding its spurious claim to represent "traditional" Christianity, is the actual recent one, dating to a retrenchment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Anyone who isn't aware of that has no business writing about it. Today, creationism is still very much an American phenomenon and far more limited than its proponents try to pretend.
The "professor" also claims that religion has historically suppressed science by refusing to investigate things so it could continue believing in "miracles". Um, excuse me, but what the crap? Is he trying to be funny? For most of civilization's history, virtually all scientists believed in God. They were scientists because they believed in God and wanted to learn more about Him by studying His creations. In other words, literally the opposite of what this guy is saying (and the oft-misrepresented incident with Galileo notwithstanding). Darwin himself believed in God, and saw "no reason why the views given in this volume ['On the Origin of Species'] should shock the religious views of anyone", and struggled with his faith later in life for philosophical reasons related to the suffering in the natural world rather than organic evolution or anything scientific per se. Again, Christians who argue from a "God of the gaps" mentality and try to stifle science by saying "God did it" are a loud, obnoxious, and increasingly irrelevant minority.
For some unfathomable reason this author also cites the Big Bang - not the obnoxious TV show that now takes up the entire first page of Google results last time I checked, but the well-supported scientific theory that was first proposed by, oh, what's this, it couldn't be, a Catholic priest? And the Pope at the time was such a huge fan of this theory that his advisers asked him to tone down his enthusiasm? You don't say? Why anyone on either side regards this theory as a threat to religious belief is quite beyond my meager powers of comprehension, as is why he doesn't realize he undercuts his own argument with this.
Nonexistent miracles, he thinks, are the entire basis of religious belief. "In history lies the realization that religion is nothing but a collection of assumptions about the unknown that disappear with the advancement of human knowledge." Ah yes, the tactic of pretending that you're so much smarter than and superior to billions of people who disagree with you never gets old and definitely doesn't make you an unlikable jackass at all. (The same principle applies to politics.) As if explaining how the physical world works were even remotely the primary purpose of any major religion. Maybe when scientists cure death and the unfairness of life (spoiler alert: they won't), people will stop looking for the higher purpose that most of their brains are hard-wired to look for. He also tries to pretend that confirmation bias is exclusive to religious people. That's cute.
I didn't bother to finish reading because the shameless lies reduced my interest. Of course, in today's climate you can write any garbage you want attacking religion and thousands of idiots will applaud you for validating their bigotry. No need to waste your time with silly details like accurate facts. The late and unlamented Christopher Hitchens lied on virtually every page of his book "God is Not Great" (or at least I charitably assume his copious inaccuracies were deliberate rather than a result of impossibly shoddy research and a mental disorder compelling him to fabricate nonexistent quotes) and it became an instant bestseller, so I guess that's the standard we're aspiring to now. And I guess they're giving out PhDs in Cracker Jack boxes now. I respect intellectually honest atheists and I respect legitimate scientists and scholars, but this man has shown himself to be neither. It's just too bad that most of his readers won't see that.
"I will say with regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to the ignorant - that is, there never was a result wrought out by God or by any of His creatures without there being a cause for it. There may be results, the causes of which we do not see or understand, and what we call miracles are no more than this - they are the results or effects of causes hidden from our understandings." - Brigham Young
"Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized. In the contemplation of the miracles wrought by Christ, we must of necessity recognize the operation of a power transcending our present human understanding. In this field, science has not yet advanced far enough to analyze and explain. To deny the actuality of miracles on the ground that, because we cannot comprehend the means, the reported results are fictitious, is to arrogate to the human mind the attribute of omniscience, by implying that what man cannot comprehend cannot be, and that therefore he is able to comprehend all that is." - James E. Talmage
tl;dr: Science and religion are not in conflict.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.