The feud between religion and science can be compared to the Montague and Capulet relationship – hateful at times, dismissive often, and bridged rarely, often with tragic results for those who try.
A recent article in the journal Science (see Can Science and Religion Get Along?) discussed a controversial panel that aimed to bring together players from both sides in the hopes of starting some sort of dialog. There were cries of foul from both sides before the panel took place, but to me it seems that conversation in general is good as long as both sides come to the table with the right intention – to listen and not just talk.
AAAS and the “Evangelicals, Science, and Policy: Toward a Constructive Engagement” symposium
Some of the panels held discussed specific issues such as neuroscience, stem cell research, and global warming, but the statements from attendees seemed to support the idea that while the two cultures are certainly not fully compatible, there’s a need to pull back some of the outright dismissal and ridicule that can exist when these two collide. Specifically, Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California was quoted as saying that “Science is religiously neutral,” and that the “same method and rationale” should be used whether testing religious ideas or others.The notion of dismissing religion off-hand can be dangerous is the same way that believing scientific ones without evidence would be looked down upon in the academic environment.
So while scientists may not believe in a god that directs life here on earth and warns of fire and brimstone, maybe we can find areas of agreement that move us forward rather than keeping us in the mud. Global warming, medical advancement, and questions of ethics can certainly be part of the initial block that might make such a discussion constructive. Hopefully this way we can save our proverbial Romeo and Juliet rather than dooming them to an early death.