On Science and Religion, part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

On Science and Religion, part 2

Many people regard science and religion as involving distinct spheres, but I am doubtful. People of faith routinely use scientific reasoning to defend their religions. To believe something solely on the basis of faith is, thankfully, fully legal in the United States, but it is not reasonable. Why not believe in the Tooth Fairy, if faith alone suffices?
When religious people try to defend their faith, they tend to use similar approaches to those of scientists. For example, they often use case reports, such as reports of miracles. Then, they often defend the validity of the source of those reports. For example, in The Case for Christ, Lee Sobel argues that there are good reasons to conclude that the Gospel accounts are accurate. While some might dispute Sobelís arguments, their form is scientific.
Another scientific defense of religious beliefs is to argue that the religionís sacred text(s) have accurately predicted future events, just as scientific theories aim to predict the outcome of future experiments. Consistency with observations is another feature of scientific proof, and many defenders of religion often maintain that their sacred stories and texts accurately reflect archaeological, geological, or other evidence.
It seems to me that, frequently, science and religion often differ not in method but in community. The scientific community tends to be skeptical, and there is a premium on making novel observations that often conflict with popular theories or prior observations. In contrast, religious communities tend to reinforce each otherís belief, and many religious communities discourage challenges to core tenets and creeds. This can make it difficult to challenge views about humanityís relationship to nonhumans, and indeed many animal advocates have had difficulty finding churches that will let them voice concerns about animal issues, much less embrace nonviolence towards nonhumans.
Can religionís scientific underpinnings be a means by which we can encourage our churches to address animal issues? Iíll explore this question next essay.

Go on to: On Science and Religion, part 3
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