What impact does science have on a person’s religious beliefs? Do people adjust their religious beliefs as a result of scientific discovery or do they resist, or even reject, scientific knowledge and continue to hold their beliefs?
Proponents of creationism and “intelligent design” obviously take the later approach. But many religious people have been able to adjust their beliefs. Many reject literal interpretation of the Bible or other religious scriptures. Some will even reject the traditional concepts of a personal God or admit to an agnostic position. Bishop Richard Randerson publicly admitted to this viewpoint in a number of Herald articles several months ago.
I welcome the attitude of religious people who are receptive to scientific evidence. This attitude enables acceptance of common values which provide a basis for a rational approach to the political and economic (and religious) problems humanity faces. On the other hand religious people who reject science and advance educational, political and moral agendas based on literal interpretation of religious documents have to be strenuously opposed.
Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins, two scientists I admire, discuss the question of communicating science to the religious in an article Should Science Speak to Faith. Richard Dawkins is often portrayed as a “militant” atheist while Krauss is seen as more moderate. However, this discussion shows a broad agreement on the tactics of communicating science to the religious.
Krauss points out that science can moderate belief in God and “cut out the most irrational and harmful aspects of religious fundamentalism. That is certainly one way science may enrich faith”. Dawkins agrees that in this sense science can enrich faith and adds: “But I’d hate to be understood as endorsing faith.”
I agree. Religion can learn a lot from science and thereby develop a more humane and modern system of belief. But this does not mean scientific support for faith.