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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Religion and Science: A Symbiosis I 25 represented a singular aberration of an otherwise extraordinarily lucid mind. In this essay, I shall try to show that such creative and fruitful interplay of religious and scientific thought is by no means an accident; on the contrary, it arises naturally from the fact that both the theory and practice of science must be guided by insights and judgments which cannot be formalized because of their subjective nature. We have long been accustomed to the idea that, in our present embryonic stage of intellectual and spiritual growth, we cannot demand a comprehensive and coherent picture of the universe from religion alone. In my judgment, we must now recognize the essential inconclusiveness of science, too, and learn to view science and religion "not as mutually destructive or reconcilable elements, but as polarities in a mutually-sustaining and dynamic tension."12 The existence of a symbiotic relationship between science and religion does not imply, however, that the two are "equal" in some sense. Religion is, and must be, a universal and ultimate human concern.13 Science, on the other hand, while it should be a universal concern, can in no way be an ultimate concern unless we intend to renounce our humanity. However, religion will not solve the elementary particle dilemma; the solution to that problem will come from more and better science, not less. Nor will the difficult problems of theology be solved by the ultimate convergence of science and religion, as some scientists have suggested.14 The object of quantum mechanics is not the search for God, but for wave functions and probability amplitudes, and knowledge of the scattering cross section does not lead to eternal life. For the moment, the conflicts will persist—but whether they persist to our salvation or damnation depends on us, rather than on the progress of the disciplines themselves. I. Science and Method Several years ago P. B. Medawar touched a tender nerve in the body scientific by asserting that "the scientific paper . . . misrepresents the processes of thought that accompanied or gave rise to the work that is described in the paper."15 He concluded that, by pretending to complete objectivity and forcing their results into an inductive format, scientists were not only deceiving themselves and confusing the non-scientific world about the methodology of science, but actually impeding the progress of their research. The general response to his ideas was predictably negative. We have convinced ourselves that the inductive method of the sciences has provided us with a triumphant and basely objective way of ferreting out the "irreducible and stubborn facts of nature"16—a notion seemingly confirmed by the "thingness" and utility of the technology which goes hand-in-hand with science and which, indeed, is often thoughtlessly equated with it. The humanities in general, and religion in particular, seem to suffer by comparison, because they deal in basically subjective insights. However, this simple subjective-objective dichotomy is spurious, for the scientific method actually has a strong subjective component which effectively determines the social and intellectual structure of scientific inquiry. As we shall see, this subjective aspect of science makes it not only possible but in fact desirable for the religious and scientific communities to be allies rather than antagonists, for the benefit of science as well as of humanity.