It’s been a while since I reblogged anything from Adam deVille here. A recent posting on his Eastern Christian Books blog – previewing the book Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around The World Really Think of Religion – begins with one of those brief paragraphs in which deVille deftly summarises something I personally have felt but haven’t articulated:
I know for some people these “debates” between so-called religion and science are really difficult but I confess to always having found them very tedious and artificial. In the hands of many, the problem may be found in treating “science” as some kind of omniscient ideology rather than the epistemically circumscribed set of methods it really is. Once you stop treating “science” like some kind of oracle, many problems disappear.
The actual process of science does not involve coming up with sweeping, definitive, peer-reviewed answers to the Big Questions but painstakingly investigating, for instance, if indeed α-Synuclein strains cause distinct synucleinopathies after local and systemic administration (a totally randomly chosen example) – the effort to find precise and repeatable answers to exceedingly specific and detailed questions. The science vs. religion mythos is not supported by contemporary scholars of the history of science and the tendency online for some to coalesce into Team Science, opposing themselves to the supposedly benighted Team Religion, is a little silly.
For me, humility is at the root of both proper science and proper religion, and the most disastrous mistakes of both arise when this is forgotten.