One scientist's perspective on

God verses the atheists

defining the nature of science


It is commonly said that science and religion are two independent things.   Some people adamantly believe science and religion are in mortal combat.  They refuse to believe claims of science (or for others, religion) because they believe contradictory claims of the other must be correct.  Some go so far as to claim that religion (or for others, science) is the curse of the earth. Thomas Aquinas As I'll explain below, I'm more inclined to the approach of Saint Thomas of Aqauinas (Italian Catholic Dominican b~1225, d1274, portrait by Fra Angelico at right→) who suggested that we humans have TWO ways to truth: Revelation and ReasonReason is more or less what we mean today by science.  Religious people tend to suggest that Revelation is God's way of speaking directly to us through angels, burning bushes, or mysterious voices.  I'd like to add that the process called Revelation can also be described as getting a wild hunch, a process that psychologists, brain experts and educators currently understand poorly.  Aquinas was astute enough to suggest that if there seems to be a contradiction between Reason and Revelation, that the flaw is in our understanding of one or both because Truth comes from God and is never inconsistent.

If one looks back via the history of the development of scientific understanding, it becomes apparent that a great many scientists had educated hunches that they proceeded to verify by gathering evidence and applying reason.  So it appears that we humans actually come to what we call truth by a combination of both Revelation and Reason!  (Historic examples of that can be found in abundance elsewhere on this site.)  This is not a totally new idea.  Aristotle (of Stageira, Greece, b384 BC, d322 BC) described these two processes as inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.

It is appropriate to note that it is not unusual for scientists (and the rest of us) to have multiple perspectives on truth.  Like we gain different images when we view a sculpture from different sides, our understanding of many aspects of our universe may be superior if we view them from more than one perspective.  For example there are advantages of thinking about light as electromagnetic waves AND as photon bundles of energy.  This is also valuable for understanding the truth underlying inductive reasoning, educated hunches, and Revelation from God.

It might also help here to recall the limitations of our vocabulary which was developed over time to describe our human experiences.  Physicists talk about the color, spin, and mass of quarks.  Those vocabulary terms were derived from human experiences but alas, only vaguely are similar with the true properties of the elementary particles which we call quarks.  Physicists chose to use those terms because we lack more meaningful vocabulary.  Our current spoken languages are not perfect.  We struggle along with what we have until we evolve better means of communication.  And while we can often describe reality more precisely in the language of mathematics, for most of us that fails to paint experience-based images in our minds.  At least some of the confusion and controversy between science and religion may be due to difficulties of inadequate vocabulary!

on to the next page: No Santa? No God? Myopic!


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started 14 May 2007
revised 24 April 2010
dave trapp
Mac made