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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36 / Dialogue Newton, of course, would have used quite a different aspect of physics to bolster his faith, but that should not disturb us. The point is that religion is made lively and strong by any honest activity of the mind, if the activity is directed to that end. Science will serve as well, or as poorly, as art or literature in this regard. As to the role of religion in science: Einstein observed that "religion without science is blind; science without religion is lame."73 What so cripples science is its tendency toward idolatry—that is, toward the treatment of some particular set of collective representations as if it were itself the sub-sensible basis of the phenomenal world—and, paradoxically, the freedom of its practitioners. Religion can be of use in both areas. The most helpful thing religion can do with idols, of whatever shape or size, is to smash them thoroughly. This ought not to be done with any trace of condescension or hostility, but rather with the frank good humor becoming an honest friendship. It is the function of religion as much as it is of science to replace illusion or ignorance with reality. Thus, when the scientist insists that he and he alone is able "in principle" to explain man or the universe, the theologian ought to smile and remind him that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." This, however, is essentially a negative, critical function, and there is a more vital service to be performed. Because of the autonomy which the scientific community grants practicing scientists, specialization of research may lead not only to fragmentation of knowledge (which is tolerable if one can prepare for it and take certain countermeasures), but also to the aimless piling up of research papers Avhich remain unintelligible to all but those working in the same tiny disciplinary niche. Religion offers a strong antidote to this poisoning of thought through its perspective of a God who created man and nature in infinite variety and staggering complexity, but who reveals himself in unexpected and delightful ways as the author of a cosmic orderliness and meaning. Such a perspective can serve as a constant reminder to science and scientists that the whole of the phenomenal world is wonderfully more than the sum of the parts into which it has been sliced for the relentless scrutiny of the various scientific disciplines. All of this suggests the prospect for a mutually supportive relationship between science and religion, in which science might lend to the search for God the strength and critical appreciation of a mind viewing nature from outside, and with religion in turn offering to science the inspiration of eternal orderliness derived from its perception of man in nature. The creation of such a working synthesis of science and religion is necessarily a personal matter, of course. But it must be based on a steadfast refusal to gloss the apparently inevitable points of difference between disciplines, and a determination to treat conflicts as opportunities for a union in diversity, rather than as challenges to do battle over contested territory of thought. Such a relationship would, I think, be especially satisfying to Latter-day Saints, for whom no enterprise which forever splits spirit and intellect can ever be fulfilling. However it may be achieved, a symbiosis embracing science and religion is essential if we are to avoid a dangerous compartmentalization of our thought and experience. That the relentless and sometimes heedless pursuit of science has unintentionally compromised our intellectual and spiritual integrity is clear from the persistent feeling of oppression and alienation that pervades so much of