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Can faith, scientific progress coexist? They can

Published: Friday, Sept. 30 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

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Casa Grande, AZ

A true scientist can't claim there is no god because there is no evidence one way or another. A strict scientist without faith should simply be agnostic.

The more I study physics the more I realize what we don't know at all. Quantum physics are truly strange and mysterious.

It's all very humbling if one is honest with themselves.

Richard Hitchens
Layton, UT

I'm glad that many religious people concede that Evolution is real in light of so much evidence, but I fear that a lot of damage has already been done. Many scientists now believe that to secure the future of science they must eradicate or severely diminish religion. To be honest I can't really blame them. It's been a long road. In 1925 John Scopes was breaking the law when he taught evolution in Tennessee. Here we are all these years later, still having this discussion.
I hope that next time the religious think twice before meddling in science.

slc, u


I think part of the issue is for the longest of times religion has stood in the way of science. I hope this comment is not censored, but religion teaches people to be satisfied in not understanding the world around them.

San Diego, CA

This often becomes an emotional discussion very quickly. There is a tendency to want to immediately "pigeon-hole" or "frame" anothers perspective --- which we should avoid. It can shut off any beneficial rational exchange of common understanding -- and enlightenment through a broader edification of one anothers views.

One must be very precise in the agreement of definitions before proceeding. Evolution, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, science, all have many variable definitions.

In short --- engage with extreme caution.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

The LDS Church and several other religions have openly embraced furthering scientific study and education. So while some religions have taken actions against empirical research; in the end those do not justify arguments against religions who support the pursuit of knowledge.

Many scientists have openly embraced evolution theory, string theory, and other theories as definitively proven. With so many replacing scrutiny in the scientific method and reasoned evaluations, with assumptions and flat-out unreasonable rejections- it is no wonder that several religions today still resist scientific study. With historical context, it is really no wonder that either 'side' has ever felt threatened by the other.

Inductive reason defines much of our scientific arguments and beliefs. Inductive is only ever probable, never provable.

Deductive reason defines much of our religious arguments and beliefs. Deductive is provable, but relies on true premises.

Neither can disprove the other, yet so many attack other beliefs while causing the damage they condemn of others. Attacking someone's views ultimately is an attempt to replace inquiry with fear.

We would do better to always tolerate and protect free thought. We should always work to edify each other. Yet so many pretend superiority to justify their hatred.

slc, u

@Voice of Reason

If churches truly embraced science there would be no churches, no religion as every respective religion does not translate to what we it commonly accept as fact; I use the word fact sparingly. I see the battle for religion failing on every front. I suppose my issue is I would have to be ignorant to the world around me to believe what I have read in the bible, BoM or Quran. :)


@ Screwdriver: "A true scientist can't claim there is no god because there is no evidence one way or another. A strict scientist without faith should simply be agnostic."

By your logic, it may also be said that people can not deny the existence of tiny, invisible, undetectable, pink unicorns sitting on everyone's shoulders. There is no evidence one way or another. Read about Bertrand Russell's Celestial Teapot for further exploration of this line of thought.

Casa Grande, AZ

Do you have any proof about the unicorns? People should have learned by now to keep an open mind.

Port Alice, B.C.

Proving a negative - eg. no God - is impossible.

On the other hand proving there is a God(head) is not very difficult. It is based on observation and many subjective elements.

Atheists seem to be all involved with getting a monopoly position for their puny intellects.

silas brill
Heber, UT

No, science and faith cannot coexist. I do recognize Mormons as probably the most scientifically literate among the religious. But I see no coexistence between science and the musing of one Joseph Smith.

One doesn't need science to debunk religion.

lehi, ut

Here we are having the same debate talked about in the article. I would have to agree Gr8bald1 and Voice of Reason. First that we need to be extremely careful in our arguments to put emotions aside and point out common ground instead of differences. Second I would say that the two can and should help the other out. When I have come across something scientific that seems to defy what I believe from my religion I understand two things first we don't understand the world perfectly so science might not understand yet, or two I don't understand religion perfectly so I might not understand yet.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

bricha, well said.

Socrates said that 'knowing is knowing that we know nothing'.

We are not all-knowing, or omniscient. We stand in a dark room, and a circle of light around us represents what we've learned. The more this light grows, we realize that the room is bigger than previously thought. - The more we learn, we should recognize that there is so much we don't know. Without knowing everything, we could always be wrong.

Atheism claims - Without proof, God's existence is impossible.

Agnosticism claims 1 of 2 things

a) Deity is possible, but unknown
b) Deity is possible, but unknowable

Atheism and Agnosticism(b) both deny possibility. This is an intentional decision to deny what could be in the rest of the room, without actually having explored it.

The LDS church and a couple other small, highly unknown, and remote religions claim - "I know". Most religions claim - "I believe".

Atheism and Agnosticism(b) only claim is that religions are wrong, denying possibility by "arguing from silence".

Saying I'm right, or I don't know is free thought. Saying 'you're wrong' doesn't take any stance, except for attacking others without justified cause. This is unscientific and against free thought.

Port Alice, B.C.

silas, if you leave out the subjective and emotion you create man as an automaton, and a life not worth living.

Salt Lake valley, UT


I guess I'm an agnostic concerning pink unicorns. As you indicated, there is no evidence one way or the other. Reason and common sense say the probability of such unicorns is small, but reason and common sense are not scientific evidence.

I agree with Screwdriver. I respect Agnostics because they recognize and admit there is no evidence one way or the other about god. I have less respect for atheists, because they make a decision that is not supported by scientific evidence.

Bountiful, UT

Religion has been wrong about things. But so has the scientific community.

The biggest problems probably come when religion is wrong. If they brain wash people into believing that living a life devoid of fun and pleasure, it results in a life wasted in large part.

I don't understand how a religion that got it wrong by insisting that the sun revolves around the earth, can convince people to spend an entire life without companionship of the opposite sex. Or convince people to not ever use bith control even when they are done having kids. Such a religion leaves people sexually frustrated and for what.

Then there is an other religion that makes women wear full coverings. Denies them education. Doesn't let them drive.

People should throw off the shackles and live life to the fullest. Religion in large part is a negative influence.

Salt Lake valley, UT

Concerning truth, scientists study the laws that govern the Cosmos. Scientists don't claim they know everything about laws of nature, and they are continually gaining better understanding of the laws.

Philosophers use logic and reason to understand how the world functions. They have a lot of structure to their thinking. Their conclusions, however, are restricted by assumptions or postulates they make to begin their thinking, as well as by the reasoning they follow.

Religionists use belief and faith to understand how the world functions. They use history, culture, and acceptance of sacred writings as the basis of their beliefs. Their conclusions are restricted by the ambiguity of their sacred writings and their interpretations of history and culture.

I think it is ridiculous for scientists, philosophers, and religionists to be at war with each other, because they approach truth differently. We are all different and choose how we will seek truth. I accept others and their searches for truth, and I hope they accept me and my search for truth. If others make mistakes in their search for truth, that is for them to learn. If I make mistakes in my search for truth, that is for me to learn.

Provo, Ut


I would agree with your position if it humbly went both ways. In other words, stricts atheists, ie, those who assert definitively that there is no God, are making unsupported claims. Therefore their statements are irrational. Conversely, however, religionists must be placed in the same basket. If there is no evidence either way, then religious belief is also irrational.

I would also argue that in this case, religion is more irrational. If there is no evidence, then the Atheist is declaring that they refuse to believe in that which they do not percieve. They are wrong in assuming that their lack of perception completely invalidates the reality of religion because they would then have to assume that everything which exists is within their ability to percieve. So Atheism is irrational, but they are at least correct in recognizing that they have not yet percieved a thing that they could not (because there is no evidence). Conversely, religionists would be arguing that they can detect that which is undetectable, ie, that which has no evidence. They are saying that there is a reality within their awareness, for which they have no proof. They fail to acknowledge their inability to percieve.

Salt Lake valley, UT

We each choose how we will approach truth. I don't have the right to criticize others who seek truth differently than me. And, I believe, they don't have the right to criticize me in my search for truth. We're not in a war with each other. Let us seek common grounds for our relationships and not argue and fight over our differences. If others find fulfillment and joy through their search for truth, I'm happy for them, and I hope they are happy for me as I find joy and fulfillment in my search for truth.

Richard Hitchens
Layton, UT

There is a difference between saying, "I know there is no God," and "I don't believe in God" The word atheist simply describes someone doesn't believe in God. It doesn't mean that person claims to know that there is no God. Atheists look at the available evidence and do not see a convincing reason to believe in God.
For example, I don't believe in the flying spaghetti monster. But I don't claim to know that there isn't a flying spaghetti monster. There may be a flying spaghetti monster, but I see no evidence to convince me that he exists.

Salt, U

I wish the author would have addressed the recent theological retreat from a literal Adam and Eve. Genetic evidence strongly suggests a literal Adam and Eve did not exist. And yet the core of Christian thought requires a literal Adam. Perhaps this would make for a great follow up article.

Adam cannot be just brushed aside as symbolic of man, can he?

Still, the methodology of science is opposite that of religion. You can't say you are religious and scientific at the same time. You must change hats. Go to the lab, put on the science hat. Got to church, put on the religion hat.

To me, that seem like

a) too much work and
b)a bit hypocritical.

Wearing the science hat, all the time: works, is easier, is more rewarding and key to living with philosophical integrity.

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