"Science is my job - faith is my rock" is the title of an article in today's Globe and Mail. Zosia Bielski is a journalist who writes on a wide range of topics with an emphasis on social issues. She was prompted to write about the conflict between science and religion because of the controversy surrounding Canada's Science Minister, Gary Goodyear.
As usual, there's no mention of the fact that most active scientists are non-religious. The proportion of atheist scientists is much higher than the proportion of atheists in the general public. Apparently this fact has little to do with a conflict between science and religion.
Zosia Bielski takes the standard approach to this issue. She interviews three religious scientists and discovers that they can reconcile their faith and science. What a surprise!
She does not interview anyone who thinks there's a serious conflict between science and religion. If she had written an article about the lack of faith among scientists and had only interviewed atheist scientists, she would have been accused (rightly) of biased journalism. The lack of balance would have been recognized by any competent editor and she would have been told to go out and get statements from religious scientists. It seems like "balance" only works one way.
What's interesting about the article is that she interview Rev. Ambury Stuart, a climatologist who is also a United Church minister. What Stuart has to say about the conflict between science and religion is very interesting.
"I struggled with this all my life. I grew up in the United Church, I always attended. You say, 'Well, can you believe in God if you believe in Newton's laws?' And the short answer is yes, you can, but it takes a while," Mr. Stuart said.This is about as honest as you get. Stuart is telling us that the conflict between religion and science is real and challenging. You have to work really hard at reconciling science and religion. Many religious beliefs don't survive the challenge.
"You have to think through a lot of stuff. It's not simplistic. You try and divide your brain into two bits: One bit you'll use on Sunday and the rest of it you'll use the rest of the week, and it doesn't work. It doesn't have to."
Evolutionary evangelist Michael Dowd's book "Thank God For Evolution" helped Mr. Stuart smooth out his own message at Glebe Road United Church in Toronto. He weaves his scientific passions into his sermons.
"You can look at scripture and say this means a whole lot more than we ever thought it meant before, because it applies to everything," Mr. Stuart said. "The idea that we are related, that we are kin with the rest of life, is essential for Christianity to do anything constructive in the ecological crisis."
That's an important lesson for people like Gary Goodyear. Any religion that denies evolution is incompatible with science. You have to choose one or the other. You can't be a Young Earth Creationist without being anti-science. If that kind of faith is your "rock" then science can't be your job.