Does science disprove religion?
Again, the National Academy of Sciences is clear with a resounding no. Although, religion can be foolish enough to make claims which are at odds with scientific facts by rejecting scientific findings and methods, science can only address these minor concepts of religion while it remains unable to address the larger issue of ‘is there a God”.
Science can neither prove nor disprove religion. Scientific advances have called some religious beliefs into question, such as the ideas that the Earth was created very recently, that the Sun goes around the Earth, and that mental illness is due to possession by spirits or demons. But many religious beliefs involve entities or ideas that currently are not within the domain of science. Thus, it would be false to assume that all religious beliefs can be challenged by scientific findings.
As science continues to advance, it will produce more complete and more accurate explanations for natural phenomena, including a deeper understanding of biological evolution. Both science and religion are weakened by claims that something not yet explained scientifically must be attributed to a supernatural deity.
Theologians have pointed out that as scientific knowledge about phenomena that had been previously attributed to supernatural causes increases, a “god of the gaps” approach can undermine faith.
Furthermore, it confuses the roles of science and religion by attributing explanations to one that belong in the domain of the other.
Many scientists have written eloquently about how their scientific studies have increased their awe and understanding of a creator (see the “Additional Readings” section). The study of science need not lessen or compromise faith.
Not surprisingly,countless churches and religious organizations have come to accept the fact of evolution.
“[T]here is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as Creator.”
— General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
“[S]tudents’ ignorance about evolution will seriously undermine their understanding of the world and the natural laws governing it, and their introduction to other explanations described as ‘scientific’ will give them false ideas about scientific methods and criteria.”
— Central Conference of American Rabbis
“In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points. . . . Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies — which was neither planned nor sought — constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”
— Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996.
“We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist.
We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as ’one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. . . . We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.”
—“The Clergy Letter Project” signed by more than 10,000 Christian clergy members. For additional information, see http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/clergy_project.htm.
And similarly many scientists have come to accept the evolutionary theory and religious faith are not at odds
“Creationists inevitably look for God in what science has not yet explained or in what they claim science cannot explain. Most scientists who are religious look for God in what science does understand and has explained.”
— Kenneth Miller, professor of biology at Brown University and author of Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Religion. Quote is excerpted from an inter- view available at http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/miller.html.
Our scientific understanding of the universe . . . provides for those who believe in God a marvelous opportunity to reflect upon their beliefs.”
— Father George Coyne, Catholic priest and former director of the Vatican Observatory. Quote is from a talk, “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution,” at Palm Beach Atlantic University, January 31, 2006. Available at http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/Coyne-Evolution.htm.
“In my view, there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us. Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul.”
— Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project and of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Excerpted from his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (p. 6).