Science and Faith: Still Incompatible

The Catholic Church Attempts the Impossible

The Catholic Church will soon be hosting a “Synod of Bishops” on the new evangelization.  A recent article on the Catholic News Service, Faith-science dialogue takes center stage at synod on evangelization, informs us that a significant amount of time at this event will be devoted to discussing the interplay between faith and science.  This is an interesting topic to me.  I have long held that science and faith are incompatible.

It is a fact that there are devoutly religious scientists out there.  However, we cannot overlook another fact–that the overwhelming majority of prominent scientists are atheist or agnostic (93% of U.S. Academy of Sciences and 97% of British Royal Society [of scientists]).  When we get down to it, there really is zero evidence to support the existence of any deities.  Yet, some scientists continue to believe.  They must be living in a state of cognitive dissonance so far as I can tell.  They must be quite well versed in the science that fails to illustrate any proof of deities, and are choosing to ignore it.  At some point, they must punt to faith.  At some point, they must recognize that science may not yet have provided “all of the answers” so they fall back to deities, with no reason to do so.  This is the punt to faith.

A second thing to note is that since at least the time of Galileo, religion has been on the losing end of its conflict with science.  Just about all of the major advancements in science have come at the expense of religion.  This leads us to the “god of the gaps” argument…and the gaps are continuously shrinking.  With the celebration of each new year the available locations for god to be residing becomes a smaller number.

It comes as no surprise to me that the Catholic Church would focus a good deal of energy on this problem in the 21st century.  There is every reason to believe that “gaps” will continue to shrink at an alarming rate.  To further complicate this scenario, the information that will lead to those shrinking gaps will be available to huge numbers of people—far more than in the past.  Much to the chagrin of religious fundamentalists, we are a much more scientifically literate society in the West than at any previous time.  This spells doom for religions in the long run.

What is curious to me is how the Church is going about tackling this issue at the Synod.  They have invited a former Nobel Prize winner in medicine/physiology in 1978, Werner Arber to address the synod.  Arber is a theist and is the head of the Pontifical Academy of Science.  (Or should we say The Apologetic Sciences”?)  Arber will be singing to other members of the same choir.  When asked why they did not invite any atheist or agnostic scientists the answer was striking.  Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the Secretary General of the Synod stated:

“…no [they will not be invited], because the synod’s goal is revitalizing and strengthening the faith of those who have been baptized…


Space in the synod hall is limited…


In order to proclaim the Gospel to the world, the church must first evangelize itself, purify itself so as to be authentic, because an evangelizer who doesn’t live what he preaches can create a negative effect.” (Catholic News Service)

The Church is not even pretending to have an open discussion on this topic.  The Synod will be nothing more than an apologetics and pseudo-science propaganda fest.  Bishops attending this Synod will learn how to shun true science and how to encourage their flocks to do the same.  It the Church were truly interested in having an honest conversation, they would have invited someone like Richard Dawkins to speak.

In closing, I have one question to ask.  If the Church is not interested in presenting a balanced and fact laden discussion, how can they even possible pretend to reconcile science and faith?  Their entire synod is based on nonsense.  Facts will not be discussed, what sort of “science” are they seeking to reconcile with faith?  The answer is none.  This is not a meeting to host a dialogue between science and faith at all.  Rather, it will be a meeting to teach bishops how faith can trump science.  It will show, like a magician’s trick, that there is still room for faith, that some gaps can still be found, though in reality it is all an illusion.  At the end of the day, two truths still remain.  Science relies on facts.  It relies on empirical, repeatable, and falsifiable evidence and tests to determine the reality around us.  Does it have all of the answers?  No, it does not.  However, scientists will keep looking, they will keep asking questions, running experiments, and “fact-checking” their work.  The answer is out there and it is up to us to discover it.  Faith does not do this.  Faith tells us to stop looking.  Faith claims to have the answer—“god did it”.  Imagine what our world would look like if all of the scientists from say 1500 to the present time upheld that view!  Faith and science cannot be reconciled.  One encourages higher order critical thinking to find solutions to the mysteries of the cosmos.  The other tells us to stop looking.  This was, is, and always will be an insurmountable gap.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.


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9 thoughts on “Science and Faith: Still Incompatible

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    It's the same old story,
    Same old song and dance!
    – Aerosmith

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why they're not inviting Richard Dawkins or Neil deGrasse Tyson or Lawrence Krauss to a meeting like this, and why it's unlikely that any future meeting will see these or others I could mention Hell, it's in their own book:

    Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
    – John 3:20

    At some level or other, the RC church KNOWS they're on the wrong side of this argument. The problem is that this is all that they know, all they know how to do, and somehow or other, they have to justify their existence, even if that justification is the proverbial house built on the sand. If they really face reality, their "deeds [and their beliefs] will be exposed" for the tripe that they are. The only way they can continue to survive is to pretend that they are somehow still relevant, that there is some imagined meeting point between science and religion … and most importantly, to keep their congregations ignorant of their mendacity.

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      "The only way they can continue to survive is to pretend that they are somehow still relevant, that there is some imagined meeting point between science and religion …" Well said Loren. Naturally the RCC would not invite a non believing scientist, the most offensive part of the story to me is that they will continue to dupe the uninformed by wheeling out a former Nobel Prize winner. I strongly feel that this type of thing needs to be pointed out. The credulous are stuck in the middle. I can't sit by and not point out the obvious nonsense from Rome when I see it!

  2. Glen Rosenberg from Windsor Locks, CT, United States

    In the catholic church truth serves no one so no one serves the truth.
    Grasping, clutching power dutching science is not our friend

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for the comment Glen. One of the largest problems facing us is that the RCC puts out its own version of the "truth"—which is all false of course. It would be one thing if they simply didn't "serve the truth"…its a different matter all together when they package nonsense and outright lies as truth and sell it to millions!

  3. rblevy from Manila, Manila, Philippines

    "The Church is not even pretending to have an open discussion on this topic." This is no surprise. Why should we expect this institution to behave otherwise? It hasn't survived this long by ceding its authoritarian grip on its followers. As for religious scientists, for many their beliefs are a comfortable holdover from their childhood. But whatever the motive, another way that they cope with cognitive dissonance is through compartmentalization.

  4. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    Why would the Church have any discussion, they're not about debate, they're about preaching the "truth" from the pulpit, whether it's the truth or not. Religion has never wanted to debate their eternal beliefs, it doesn't matter how absurd they might be, they must be true because their imaginary friend in the sky told them so.

    Debating with the religious, even with science on your side, is an exercise in futility.

      1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

        I didn't say why *WE* shouldn't do it, just that they gain nothing out of engaging in debate with non-believers. They don't want anyone to think about their beliefs, discuss their beliefs rationally, engage in debate or critical thinking regarding their beliefs, those things only lead to disaster for the church. They only maintain their position by keeping their followers stupid.


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