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The Future of Christianity and Science

May 6, 2012

O.k., let’s take this whole religion and science thing at its most basic… Most people see them in serious conflict. Why?

Maybe because in the most common forms of both, they are! But are these popular forms either science or religion at their best? Are they what they need to be, to serve us not only as in the past, but much better?

There are better forms of both religion and science. (We will consider specifically Christianity, but it is similar for other religions.)  Particularly, for discussion here, better foundational concepts that create an operating framework.  Christians will often complain that science has no business, as well as no competence or authority, in speaking of the origin of life, or ruling out the existence of God.  And perhaps as self-righteously as those Christians, most scientists and various skeptics will say that Christians, if they had their way, would undermine the very basis and motivation for doing science. 

Talk about a turf war! Fortunately, at least these days, most from both groups will stop short of physical violence…. But it does get pretty nasty sometimes.  To keep this basic, let’s proceed: In a nutshell, traditional Christianity operates out of supernaturalism and science out of naturalism.  Makes a clear contrast, right? No complicated definitions needed, but simple ones may be helpful. 

Supernaturalism, in Christian form, says that God can and at least occasionally does interrupt natural processes to do something special (especially around Christ coming to be Savior, but maybe also just as a favor to you or me).  Naturalism, as understood generally by “science” (institutional practices but also similarly in popular culture) says, “No! Hold on! How can we count on any data, create any explanatory or predictive systems if your God can be manipulating things whenever “he” wants? Besides, where is the evidence for interventions?” (Even though almost none of them ever bother to look seriously for any evidence unless they happen to have been raised Christian or had a conversion experience or such. And even then, they may well separate their faith fully from their science.) 

So “never the twain shall meet” with these two–God basically has to supercede his own rules to redeem us, if not for other important reasons, on the one side. (And we can see that he has, they say).  On the other side, science believes it observes that there is a single and completely consistent way things operate, by nature (sometimes “Nature” as a slight bow toward a personal side to the process, perhaps). In other words, naturally and naturally only.  Since the late Enlightenment, not even a distant “clockmaker” God is needed…. All has developed from original matter via natural processes, and intelligence is just extra-complex cell organizations of neurons, etc. 

Somebody does have to give on something for any kind of resolution, right?

Fortunately, there are quite a few people who can do good science while holding religious faith and they have various ways of working it out (more than a few books on the subject these days!).  But very few have tried to work out another way of making ALL the data fit together consistently, including the harder-to-measure-and-analyze “data” from inside our bodies and/or souls, or our not-so-unusual “paranormal” experiences. 

But what if God exists, but works her/his love out in ways other than intervening, ever, in the natural processes that are part of and proceed out of God?

Is this possible? I think yes… What do YOU think?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    May 7, 2012 5:35 pm

    So if God never intervenes in the natural process, what evidence can there be for God? And if there is no evidence, aren’t you right back to believing only by faith? And then aren’t you right back to myth and superstition since there aren’t any observable data?

    • May 7, 2012 7:58 pm

      There indeed won’t be evidence for God in Process, IF God is conceived as God is typically… as outside of the created realm, and as “all-powerful” and aware of all future events. In Process, all of “creation,” including people, are seen as continous with God, though not the same as God (pantheism). God still is much larger, originating and incorporating the “individualized,” which is us (“souls,” or “spirits” in basic identity, not our human bodies or personalities).

      Being individual still means interconnected and interdependent with one another and with God–something we typically forget, and orthodox Christianity seems to also.

      The confusion inherent in still using “God,” with its traditional connotations, is why some have used “Mind” or “Ground of Being” (which is not meant exactly the same… but don’t ask me for the distinction 🙂 ).

      So now, evidence and faith in a Process system: If God works only within natural processes, we are looking for “evidence” of something other than matter/energy… something “natural” but also intelligent, as a potential guide for all natural processes… a “lure” toward change and more complex developments (“improvements” or “perfecting”). “Love” is the word most commonly associated with the “feeling” side of this (“God is love”–though “love” is more than just feeling, biblically and otherwise). “Intelligence” might be about the best term for the design and vision (sensing possiblity, with desire) aspect of this lure.

      Now, if one has had a vivid and/or emotive experience of this “lure of God,” as many, perhaps most people have, that seems to serve as “evidence,” as it produces a kind of “knowing” that something beyond us exists, yet it seems wonderfully familiar, safe, “alluring.” Not scientific-type evidence, but then “science” in terms of quantifiable measurements and repeatability and such, is actually very limited (and tends not to want to admit those limitations).

      Actually, a growing number of scientists (physicians, physicists and others) are researching things like Near Death Experiences and other “paranormal” things, with scientific-type procedures and safeguards against misinterpretation. Findings here (which are quite astounding and impressive) I consider evidence, if not for God directly, at least for things like continuation of consciousness which point at least to some realm beyond matter, and I think to SOME kind of God…. And who of us is capable of giving very good description to such a being/force/intelligence/presence or whatever label we might prefer?

  2. minornelson permalink
    May 11, 2012 12:49 pm

    I find it interesting that the science behind conception and a human beings initial development is not evidence of a force/presence/ or being greater then ourselves. For me, when I was pregnant I felt very “God-like.” I had a strength inside my soul that was beyond anything I had been before. So many things could have gone wrong in the process of conception and development that I see it as a “miracle” in its self. I was “creating,” but not in control of it at all. This is one of the examples in my life that was proof or evidence that God exists for me. I know that the science of procreating is available, but chance, luck, or unfortunate events determine outcomes and ultimately population. So then I am at a place where I ask is science being driven by God, or is Gods work a scientific explanation?

  3. May 11, 2012 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the personal sharing from a mother’s experience. Over half the population never gets to have such an experience… Maybe, among other things, this is one reason women are noted to be religious and/or spiritual in higher numbers than men.

    As to the last point, can’t it be working both ways, in a cycle?

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