A Good Post From the Other Side of the Divide
Jacques Distler, the brilliant physics professor right here in my own backyard, is a sometimes commenter here on this blog, and a fine example of a reasonable voice from the lefthand side of the aisle. He and I share one quality (well, I suspect more than one), and that is a concern over the confusion between political and religious beliefs and scientific theory.
It is a subject that I know is touchy with some of my fellow conservatives, but I can’t stress it enough: there is a tradition going back at least to Newton regarding the scientific method and what it comprises. Scientific theories, like all theories, are subject to revision, and, in rare cases, are completely overturned by new knowledge. Regardless, good science is understood to follow certain rules. Jacques knows more than I what those rules are, but as a layman, I understand them to include a basis for falsification, experimental results that are material and repeatable, and the subjecting of new ideas to peer review through such vehicles as scientific journals. If it doesn’t meet those criteria, it just ain’t science…
Note that I’m not implying judgment, or asserting truth or falseness; I am merely defending the idea of science as it is understood and practiced by professionals in the field. It is surely the case that there is much truth and wisdom to be found in the study of religion and philosophy…but let’s keep them labelled as such.
I’m of the belief that we set a false dichotomy between religion and science, as if belief in one precludes the other; I don’t follow that divide personally…are some, or even many, scientists atheists? Of course…and so are some priests. To paraphrase an old bit of wisdom from a very excellent ancient text: render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, unto Einstein, what is Einstein’s, and unto God, the things that are God’s. When Jesus uttered those words, He was trying to avoid a trap, an early version of ‘gotcha’ politics. Those of us who claim to follow Him might learn from His example.