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Religion: Helping or Hindering Science?

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Religion: Helping or Hindering Science?

By Paul H. Carr, web page www.MirrorOfNature.org

Institute of Religion in an Age of Science Conference,
Star Island off Portsmouth, NH
Monday, 4 August 2014, 3:30 PM


Is religion fostering or impeding the development of science? We have made progress since 1600, when the church burned Dominican Giordano Bruno at the stake in Rome for religious heresy and believing that the stars were like our sun with planets. In 2010, Dominican Francisco Ayala, a Spanish evolutionary biologist, won the $1.6 million Templeton Prize for affirming life’s spiritual dimension.

Nevertheless biblical literalists, who oppose Darwinian evolution, recently built the $26 million Creation Science Museum in Kentucky. It is located in the part of the United States known as the evangelical epicenter, which has the lowest family income and educational attainment of any region.

Main-line denominations have, on the other hand, fostered education and the development of science by founding colleges and universities. I will share other religious contributions, including the green-evangelical question: What car would Jesus drive?

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Religion: Helping or Hindering Science?

  1. 1. Religion: Helping or Hindering Science? By Paul H. Carr web page: www.MirrorOfNature.org
  2. 2. Religion: Helping or Hindering Science? 1.Religion hinders the development of science. 2.Religion helps 3.Religion both helps and hinders. Reconciling Differences Between: Region, Education, and Worldviews WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP
  3. 3. • In 1584, Dominican monk Giordano Bruno envisioned the stars as "countless suns with countless earths, all rotating around their suns.” • In 1995, the Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the first discovery of a planet orbiting a star similar to our sun (51 Pegasi). On Feb 2, 2011, NASA announced 1200 planet candidates.
  4. 4. PTOLEMY 150 A. D. COPERNICUS 1543 From The Bones of Copernicus by Dennis Danielson, “American Scientist,” Jan-Feb 2009
  5. 5. When Bruno found that proceedings were being initiated against him for new ideas such as these, he fled from his native Naples, Italy to Protestant Geneva. Bruno’s search for intellectual freedom led him to France, England, and Germany. Homesick, he accepted a patron’s invitation to return to Italy. Their relationship soured shortly thereafter, and Bruno was imprisoned for seven years during his lengthy trial.
  6. 6. The Roman Inquisition finally condemned Bruno for heresy; he refused to recant and was burned at the stake in 1600. Bruno had published about 20 books.
  7. 7. This monument to Bruno was erected in 1889 at the place he was executed, Campo de Fiori in Rome.
  8. 8. • In 1992, Pope John Paul said the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo. • He expressed "profound sorrow" and acknowledged error in Bruno's condemnation to death.
  9. 9. In contrast to Bruno, Dominican monk Francisco Ayala was born in Spain in 1934 and ordained in 1960. The next year he came to the US where he earned a Ph. D. at Columbia University in evolutionary biology. He has been President of Sigma Xi and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was recently awarded the $1.6M Templeton Prize for progress in spiritual reality. Ayala believes that religion and science offer complementary windows for viewing the world.
  10. 10. Evolution, Creationism, & the Battle to Control America's Classrooms by Michael Berkman Eric Plutzer (2010) • "Who should determine whether evolution is taught in the schools and how it is taught? Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms is a thorough investigation of the relative roles played by school boards and the political process, by scientists, and by school teachers. You may be surprised by the answers." • -Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine
  11. 11. Data was collected from 926 nationally representative participants in the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers • 17 % of teachers surveyed did not cover human evolution at all in their biology class, whereas a majority of teachers (60%) spent between 1 and 5 hours of class time on it. • Many teachers among the 60 % that kept evolution instruction brief explained they wanted to avoid confrontation with students and parents who believe in creationism. In many cases, their own knowledge was also limited. •At the opposite extreme, 13 % of teachers explicitly endorse creationism or intelligent design. •5% percent reported that they support creationism in passing or when answering students' questions.
  12. 12. CHALLENGE •Just over 40% of Americans still identify with the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. • Some 49% of those surveyed, however, believe that humans evolved.
  13. 13. Does economics impact our acceptance of evolution? Biblical literalists raised $26 M to build the Creation Science Museum in Petersburg, KY Museum brings the pages of the Bible to life. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. Natural selection is not evolution. The cave aquarium features live blind cavefish, showing how natural selection allows organisms to possess characteristics most favorable for a given environment—but it is not an example of evolution in the molecules-to-man sense.
  14. 14. The 12 States of America: Since 1980 income inequality has fractured the nation. By Dante Chinni & James Gimpel, authors of Our Patchwork Nation THE ATLANTIC, April 2011, pgs 70-71.
  15. 15. The 12 States of America: Since 1980 income inequality has fractured the nation. By Dante Chinni & James Gimpel THE ATLANTIC, April 2011, pgs 70-71.
  16. 16. Evangelical epicenter income of $37,554 is the lowest.
  17. 17. -Biblical literalists raised $26 M to build the anti-evolutionary Creation Science Museum in Petersburg, KY, a region where the median family income is $37,554, down 2.8% from 1980. -In contrast, the moneyed suburbs with broader science education have family incomes of $59,404, up 5.6%. • ECONOMIC STATUS AFFECTS THE ACCEPTANCE OF EVOLUTION. • FUNDAMENALIST/EVANGELICAL RELIGION IS THE OPIATE OF THE PEOPLE.
  18. 18. Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny? NY Times, 11 May 2011 FUNDAMENTALISTS: LESS EDUCATED & POORER THAN LIBERALS
  19. 19. Can our “free” economy survive the increasing gap between the rich and the poor? The richest one percent of Americans posses over a third of the country’s wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent of American families.” In the past 30 years, an increase in income inequality has been accompanied by increased political polarization. Historically, income inequality contributed to the French Revolution, the 1849 European Revolution, and 1917 Communist Revolution in Russia. Income inequality contributes to the revolutions in the Arab World.
  20. 20. Political polarization, income inequality, and immigration have all increased dramatically in the United States over the past three decades. The increases have followed an equally dramatic decline in these three social indicators over the first seven decades of the twentieth century. The pattern in the social indicators has been matched by a pattern in public policies with regard to taxation of high incomes and estates and with regard to minimum wage policy. We seek to identify the forces that have led to this observation of a social turn about in American society, with a primary focus on political polarization. MIT Press 2006
  21. 21. Mr. Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010" (Crown Forum) published on Jan. 31,2012
  22. 22. Mr. Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010" (Crown Forum) published on Jan. 31,2012
  23. 23. WHO SAVED ENGLAND FROM THE BLOOD BATH OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION? John Wesley (1703 – 1791) was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching to miners and the masses in the cities. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in 1968 Bill Graham’s Evangelism seems to have declined.
  24. 24. Transformation of Evolutionary Evangelist, Rev. Michael Dowd • At Bible-Based Evangel College, believed Darwinian purposeless evolution was the source of moral decline in our society. Later made friends with Darwinians. • M. Div. at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. •1988, attending course “A New Catholic Mysticism” in Boston,had an epiphany while hearing Albert LaChance present the scientific universe story presented as a sacred epic. Ordained in the United Church of Christ . Pastored 3 UCC churches. • Married atheist science writer Connie Barlow. • 2007. Published Thank God for Evolution: How Marriage of Science & Religion will Transform you Life & Our World.
  25. 25. RELIGION HELPS THE DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE Theology has nurtured science by establishing colleges and universities. The Congregationalist Pilgrim Fathers established Harvard University in 1636 to train ministers in the New World rather than in the Old. Harvard University has matured many Nobel Prize winners in the sciences. Roman Catholics have established many institutions of higher learning: Notre Dame, Georgetown University, Boston College, Loyola Marymount, and Holy Cross; Methodists have established Boston University and Drew, etc.
  26. 26. RELIGION HELPS SCIENCE Old Testament theology provided a milieu for the goodness of the material world, in contrast with the inner contemplation and enlightenment. A monotheistic God created the material world as “good” and therefore worthy of being investigated. "It was good," is a recurring theme in the First Chapter of Genesis. The God of the Bible was consistent and honored His covenant, in contrast with the capriciousness of polytheistic gods. This consistency contributed to the emergence of the natural laws of science, whose fruit is technology. For example, Isaac Newton's laws of motion and gravity are always present and can not be "turned off" to explain something new. Newton himself was motivated by a desire to decipher the clues about God's creation. The created natural world is contingent and therefore non-deducible from logical principles. The world must therefore be discovered and investigated by empirical science.
  27. 27. Dear Southern Baptist Pastor, First of all, we grew up in the same faith. Although I no longer belong to that faith, I am confident that if we met and spoke privately of our deepest beliefs, it would be in a spirit of mutual respect and goodwill. I write to you now for your counsel and help. Let us see if we can, and you are willing, to meet on the near side of metaphysics in order to deal with the real world we share. I suggest that we set aside our differences in order to save the Creation... Sincerely, E. O. Wilson, Biologist & Secular Humanist • The number of scientists who understand the ecological threat to our planet number in the thousands. • The number of Southern Baptists number in the millions. Published in 2006
  28. 28. The evangelicals believe in CREATION CARE. They ask the question, If Jesus were to return to earth today, what car would he choose to drive?
  29. 29. Natural knowledge and biblical interpretation Augustine believed that the Biblical text should not be interpreted literally, if it contradicts what we know from science and our God- given reason. St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354 - 430 A.D.
  30. 30. Dr. Francis Collins, founder BioLogos. “I find those rare dramatic moments of scientific discovery in my own experience to be moments of worship also, where a revelation about some intricacy of God’s creation is appreciated for the first time.” 33
  31. 31. "BioLogos" is a new term for theistic evolution. http://biologos.org/ • Bios is the Greek word for "life". •Logos is Greek for "word," with a broader meaning in Philosophy and Stoicism—namely the rational principle ordering the universe. • In Christian theology, "word" includes the Hebrew idea of a creative agent for all that exists, in addition to being an ordering principle. •"BioLogos" expresses the belief that God is the source of all life and that life expresses the will of God. •BioLogos represents the view that evolutionary science and religious faith co-exist in harmony. 34
  32. 32. Reconciliation Ginny’s granddaughter in New Orleans calls Ginny her liberal grandmother.
  33. 33. “That’s beautiful, marching up to Zion, beautiful city of God.”
  34. 34. Rev. Jessie Smith, Jr With son Jason Smith
  35. 35. Harold (the dad) with grandfather Rev. Jessie baptizing grandson Donovan.
  36. 36. Complementary Beauty of Science & Spirit • I experience beauty in both science and religion. • “If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing.” Henri Poincare • The emergent evolutionary process produced homo sapiens who perceive the beauty of the natural world as the result a Divine Creator.
  37. 37. www.asa3.org 2014 Annual Confrence, July 24-28, McMaster Univ, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
  38. 38. II. RELIGION: Cosmos Emerged From Divine Consciousness “Word (Logos) was God,” John 1:1 “Spirit of God,” Gen 1:2 I. SCIENCE: Human Consciousness Emerged from the Cosmos Cosmos emerged from a hot Big Bang 13.8 Billion years ago. First Homo Sapiens in Africa, 200,000 years ago. Searching for natural processes & laws that gave rise to psyche. III. RECONCILIATION of SCIENCE & RELIGION: -Biologos: Evolutionary creation. -Emergence of homo sapiens’ sense of Divine beauty. -Complementary beauty of science’s how & spirit’s why. Did Consciousness Emerge from Cosmos or Visa-Versa? Paul H. Carr’s ASA Paper, 7/27/2014 42
  39. 39. Religion: Helping or Hindering Science? 1.Religion hinders the development of science. 2.Religion helps 3.Religion both helps and hinders. Reconciling Differences Between: Region, Education, and Worldviews WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP
  40. 40. SERENETY PRAYER, attributed to Reinhold Niehbuhr O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, The courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

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