Friday, June 05, 2009

More speak about reconciling science and religion

In a story that somehow reminded me of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons (fantastic book, good movie), the Vatican seems to have grown a sudden interest in the Centre Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (which you may know as CERN) and its massive particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider. A Vatican delegation visited the cutting-edge physics laboratory in Geneva, all the while proclaiming how the advancement of science not only helps humans advance their knowledge, but also – somehow – helps religion, and that, of course, science and religion are entirely compatible.

The Roman Catholic Church was represented by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican City's governor, as it toured the CERN facility and its 17-mile (27-kilometer) proton accelerator this week. It welcomed any breakthroughs physicists could provide on understanding the basis of the universe, and said they would also advance religion.

"The Church never fears the truth of science, because we are convinced that all truth comes from God," Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican City's governor, said Thursday in Geneva. "Science will help our faith to purify itself. And faith at the same time will be able to broaden the horizons of man, who cannot just enclose himself in the horizons of science."

So the Church doesn't fear science? Uh-huh. Sure. Except for Galileo. Copernicus. The story of the Illuminati (the real group, not the modern conspiracy theories). And the other hundreds of examples I can't possibly think of. And in modern days, the endless battle, particularly in America, to try and keep religion from forcing patently false, disproven, discredited and ridiculous policies, curricula and ignorant teachings in schools and from distilling science classrooms and organizations with religious and creationist bullshit. Among other examples I could surely dredge up if I had the patience to bother.

Anyway, of course the point is that Cardinal Lajolo keeps proclaiming how science and religion are friends, don't have to be in conflict, are two different ways of seeing the world; etc. This, of course, is simply not so. What's so compatible about religion endlessly trying to brainwash the people with its dogmatic silliness and superstitious foolery, while science tries valiantly to clean up the mess and tell the people, "no, rain is not God crying, it's water formed high in the atmosphere from condensation ..."? (If you get the allegory.)

It's simply wishful thinking that science and religion can ever be conciliatory towards each other, because they simply stand on entirely different principals and bases. One is based on faith, on believing without ever truly knowing, on taking others' word for granted without a lick of evidence to confirm it, and of course, devoting your life to the service of some high-and-mighty deity while being a good little boy or girl and living in fear of retribution if you screw up, while the other is based in evidence, in logic, and cold and hard truth. You can't reject something just because it's unpleasant to hear, if it's simply true, yet that's what religion seems hellbent on doing regarding science.

But most interesting of all, is how Lajolo then states that "nothing in science could contradict the Holy Scriptures, because they're only interpretations". I'm all for the "interpretations" bit, but somehow, a talking snake, or dividing an ocean to create a passageway, or turning water to wine, or a flood that has mysteriously left absolutely no evidence anywhere on the planet – doesn't seem all that plausible to me. I'm sure science will agree.


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