Science vs. Christianity

Having seen enough Bishop Barron videos where he says that polls show that people who leave the church frequently cite the “conflict” between “science” and “religion”, I’m thinking that I might make some videos on my YouTube channel about how there is no conflict between science and (orthodox) Christianity. This is a multi-faceted topic, though, so it will probably result in multiple videos.

Sub-topics include:

Most People Don’t Know Science: Probably the biggest issue is that a lot of the “science” which is supposed to contradict religion isn’t actually scientific, or isn’t modern science. (E.g. the idea that human beings don’t have a common ancestor isn’t scientific, or, if you can find someone who does propose that, has no evidence to back it up.) The scientific theory of evolution is widely misunderstood, as is quite a lot of physics, too. Etc.

Many People Don’t Know Christianity: A lot of people don’t know what would and would not contradict Christianity, anyway. E.g. the universe being 12+ billion years old doesn’t contradict Christianity, evolution doesn’t contradict Christianity, etc.

Models vs. Reality: Science, or what most people think of as science, consists in the making of models, not in describing reality as it is. Models can be useful while being inaccurate, just as the ptolemaic model of the solar system was quite useful for predicting the movement of the planets. A model having predictive power about a very narrow aspect of reality doesn’t tell you much about reality as it is.

Science Isn’t Engineering: A lot of people confuse science with engineering and think that engineering means that “science” must be “true”. In fact, a very narrow bit of theoretical science actually precedes engineering, rather than tries to explain it after the fact. Where it does, the parts which are demonstrated to be “true” are things like the theory of electromagnetism.

Epistemology: the nature of the scientific method is that all it produces are hypotheses, and these hypotheses have often turned out to be wrong in the past. Even scientific experiments are often badly misinterpreted until later, when they are retroactively interpreted correctly (or, more precisely, in line with our current preferred interpretation).

Rationality: Science presumes the world to be rationally intelligible, which only makes sense within a framework where human beings are made in the image of a creator who created the world according to a rational purpose. (This includes Judaism and Islam, and some variants of philosophical theism, e.g. Platonism or Aristotelianism.)

Religion as Bad Science Creation Myth For Religion: A lot of people think of religions in general as merely being bad science, i.e. as a way to explain the world around them. As if, to quote my friend Andrew, the Romans worshiped Janus the god of doors to explain why doors existed.

No One Actually Believes Science Anyway: E.g. Neck-down darwinism (“from the neck down, our bodies are evolved, from the neck up, all men are created equal”). No one holds that physical determinism (assumed in science) means that rapists shouldn’t be punished because they couldn’t help it. The point is that people know how limited science really is when they care to.

Scientific Methodological Assumptions Aren’t Science: Science is well known for what is sometimes called “methodological naturalism,” i.e. the assumption that what it studies is purely natural. This doesn’t mean that the whole world is natural, only that science is only looking at the parts that are. In like manner, the assumption that the laws of physics are the same throughout space and time is purely an assumption with no proof. The assumption that what we can see (detect) is all that exists, despite us clearly being at the wrong scale to see what electrons do in low-energy environments, does not make it so.

What other subjects should be included? (Please comment below.)


Update: I got a request on Twitter to go into depth on theistic evolution.

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