Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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24 / Dialogue But this picture of a single titanic intellectual and spiritual conflict, with science emerging at last triumphant and religion banished to the nether realms of social myth and private ethical concerns, is far too simple. The war of science against religion has actually been waged on three broad fronts: a social revolution, which in Jacques Barzun's words "has enthroned science in the name of increased production, increased communication, increased population and increased specialization'7;2 an intellectual revolution, directed at achieving "a comprehensive knowledge of the cosmos through science";3 and, most significantly, a revolution in consciousness, that is, in man's felt way of perceiving himself and the world about him. Of these three interlocking struggles, only the social revolution seems to have been concluded with any degree of finality. Indeed, the enthusiasm for science generated by its transformation of society has lent substantial strength to those who, in the name of science, have sought to discredit the world-picture of religion on intellectual grounds. Nevertheless, the conviction that there has occurred a "completed revolution of the intellect caused by science,"4 and that theistic religion is thus as outmoded as the phlogiston theory, remains just that: a deep-seated conviction, but certainly not an experimental observation.5 In spite of the optimism of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century popularizers of scientific enlightenment, we have yet to see many of the results we might reasonably expect from such an intellectual revolution. The completely rational theology foreseen by the philo-soph.es has not appeared.6 Nor have the attempts to reduce human behavior (particularly ethics) to biology and chemistry been successful.7 Moreover, the scientific criticism of religious history and literature—with the avowed aim of eliminating "mythical" or "unscientific" (which is to say, prophetic, miraculous and eschato-logical) elements—has brought the critics themselves a number of embarrassing surprises.8 Yet, strangely, the protagonists of religion continue to accept a basically defensive position vis-a-vis science and scientists. It has often been remarked that this unfortunate state of affairs is not due to any intrinsic incompatibility of scientific and religious thought, but rather to basic misunderstandings of the contrasting languages and practices of the two disciplines. What is less often noticed is that scientists are in large measure responsible for the misunderstandings, because they have consistently presented scientific practice "as though it were the outcome of a world-view with which it was in fact fundamentally incompatible."9 As a result, the revolution in consciousness which led to the birth of modern science about the time of Galileo has been widely misinterpreted.10 However, regardless of who bears the blame, we are all impoverished by the notion that the only possible relation between science and religion is one of perpetual conflict between unequally-equipped antagonists, whose will to fight is sustained by irreconcilable views about ways of knowing. A thoughtful examination of the methods and underlying metaphysics of science discloses the possibility of a symbiotic and synergistic relationship with religion. There are, of course, familiar examples of physicists—Kepler, Newton, Maupertuis, Faraday and Einstein, to name several—for whom a fundamentally religious or mystical perception of reality served as the nourishing substratum of their most significant scientific speculations.11 But too often, these cases are dismissed as anomalous, as if, for instance, Newton's preoccupation with theology