Sunday, January 6, 2008

Science & Faith: Living in perfect harmony?

I just read a New York Times article (courtesy Slashdot), describing a new publication (free online) from the National Academy of Sciences. Normally, I'd be mildly interested in such a writing, but what made this one fascinating was the topic -- Science, Evolution, and Creationism -- and one of the advertised statements that effectively you don't have to choose between science and religion.

My assumption had been that the article would say this harmony was accomplished because faith was personal and internal, whereas science focused on the external. In other words, science is real and faith is what's in your head. I was pleasantly surprised to see nothing of the sort. Instead, the article concludes that science is about testing natural phenomena, where religion focuses on the supernatural... which science (by definition) cannot comment. Another statement I found refreshing is "Science is not the only way of knowing and understanding." (It does go on to explain science differs from other way in its dependence on testable explanations.)

This document does say that Creation Science is not really science (as it is not testable), and honestly, I don't have a problem with that statement (but the reasons are for another time). The only phrase that irked me a bit was that religious faith "is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence." I guess that's technically true; after all, how many times have I felt my prayer was not powerful and effective (though that could be a commentary on my righteousness).

Anyway, their statement made me think about whether Christianity could be disproved. After all, Christianity is founded on observed events that happened on planet Earth (Jesus dying on a cross and resurrecting), and I came to believe because of the evidence supporting its claims. So, is it even possible for a piece (or set) of evidence to occur that would disprove Christianity? I'm not looking for existing evidence; if it's really true there won't be any. No, instead, I'm wondering if it's possible to imagine such a piece of evidence, or if Christianity is inherently irrefutable. That's too much for one post, and certainly one that I've already filled with a commentary. Instead, I'll add others in the near future, starting with one describing evidence that could but does not disprove Christianity.

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