Shocking news from England. The General Synod of the Church of England considered the question of science and religion. By an overwhelming vote (241 -2) they concluded that science and religion are perfectly compatible [General Synod says religion and science not mutually exclusive].NCSE and major scientific organizations will be grateful for this show of support.
Launching the debate, a computer scientist, Dr Peter Capon of Manchester diocese, said: "We wish to refute the perception that you have to choose between science and faith … the crude caricature of faith as being blind and irrational. We reject the 'scientism' that claims that, in principle, science can resolve all questions capable of being answered.Science is a way of knowing characterized by the use of evidence and rational thought. Modern disciplines like philosophy and the humanities use this approach to gathering knowledge—indeed, philosophy invented it. Thus, neither philosophy or the humanities provide insights and understanding that's outside of the scientific approach to knowledge. They are part of it, as long as they are done properly.
"Most scientists accept that philosophy, theology and the humanities are alive and well and give insights and understanding that complement but are not replaced by scientific understanding."
Theology, on the other hand, is definitely not scientific in its approach to knowledge. We'd all like to know the examples that Dr. Capon is referring to. What, exactly, are the examples of insight and understanding (i.e., true knowledge) that theology has given us? Perhaps Dr. Capon and his supporters could give us a short list of these examples, choosing one or two from each of the major religions.
Several theologies promote the existence of multiple gods. Is that insightful? What about reincarnation—is that an example of insight and understanding from theology? It's difficult to claim that theology offers real insight and understanding unless you're prepared to embrace the idea that only your religion is true. This is exactly what the General Synod is doing. They condemn the "insight and understanding" of theologies based on a literal interpretation of the Bible but claim that the Church of England has it right.
That's not rational. It's much more probable that all theologies are wrong because they rely on faith and not evidence. Like it or not, faith is blind and irrational. And that makes it incompatible with science.
Photo Credit: The Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Rowan Williams) with a friend.