Question: Are Science and Religion Compatible?
Answer: Some way yes, some say no. I’m on the yes side.
As one of the directors in an educational website I know that religion is probably the most difficult and dangerous subject for us ever to tackle. It’s probably a no-go area – so let’s do it!
The thing that brought the subject to the forefront of my attention was a recent tweet from the Church of England that said simply “Prayers for Prof Dawkins and his family”. Professor Dawkins recently suffered a mild stroke so how innocent, how uncontroversial and how genuinely nice for an organization in our country to wish an individual well. You might expect that nobody could see this as anything but charitable but how wrong you would be. Firstly, you need to understand a little about the said Professor Dawkins…
From a scientific point of view Professor Dawkins is an esteemed fellow of New College, Oxford whilst Balliol College, Oxford instituted the “Dawkins Prize”. He has sat on judging panels for the Royal Society and written books about genetics that have become best sellers. You will therefore see that this gentleman is no intellectual lightweight. From a religious point of view, he wrote a book in 2006 called “The God Delusion” and from the title alone you will understand why he is somewhat unpopular with the religious establishment. Richard Dawkins is probably the most famous proponent of atheism in the country.
So, let’s go back to that seemingly innocuous tweet when the Church of England asked for prayers for Richard Dawkins. Some atheists interpreted the tweet as mocking of his beliefs. The suggestion is that the C. of E. were being insincere. Is it really fair to assume that they were being in some way devious when asking for prayers for someone who does not adhere to their faith? Are we to assume that everyone who says something good about a challenger will always be labelled as disingenuous? Surely not, particularly when you consider that one of the foundations of Christianity is to “Love your enemies”.
I’m not sticking-up for the church as a Christian because I’m not one, but I find it really odd that anyone should criticize the Church for doing one of the things it does best – being kind and generous to all people including its adversaries. It’s a great pity that so many people take a stance on the side of either religion or science and then assume that everything the other side says is either flawed or deceitful.
Why not try and convince your children that science and religion can live happily side by side and point them in the direction of Wiki Scientific Christians and Wiki Scientific Muslims where they will find lists of great minds that reconcile their religion with science.
Richard Dawkins is not religious and he asserts that it is in no way necessary to be religious in order to lead a decent, honest life. I believe him. For my part I wish him a speedy and complete recovery and I look forward to hearing his insights into the nature of morality for a long time to come. I’ll conclude with a quote from Professor Dawkins that I believe has profound significance to both parenting and to education:
“Don’t ever label children…. Don’t ever talk about a Protestant Child, a Catholic Child or a Muslim Child because there is no such thing. What there is however, is a child of Protestant parents and a child of Catholic parents and a child of Muslim parents.”