By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City
Science and Religion
This is the index page for several pages reconciling science and religion. While the topics are intended to be interesting to the general public, some of them may be particularly interesting to educators who teach people of all religious backgrounds.
Even religious scientists normally study science as if God does not exist. This is called methodological materialism. Materialism is the polite term for atheist.
Materialism or atheism provides a nice safe neutral ground for Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, and scientists of other religions or no religion to communicate and cooperate. If the atheists are right we all end up the same, we cease to exist. This makes atheism weak and neutral, and therefore comfortable for all.
In the cold war powerful nations, the United States and Soviet Union, often negotiated in weak neutral nations, Switzerland, Austria, and Finland. Materialism serves much the same function of these weak neutral nations.
For the full essay on methodological materialism click here.
Miracles Contrast with, but do not Contradict Science
Many people think miracles and science conflict. Actually they contrast. Just as white paper contrasts with black ink, miracles contrast with the natural order, allowing the supernatural God to communicate to us. Miracles are acts of communication and communication usually, and maybe always, involves some contrast. Science is God's paper, miracles are his ink, which he uses to write his love letters to his people.
For the full essay on miracles and science click here. For my YouTube, video version of Miracles and Science Contrast but don't Contradict click here.
In the worlds of Marvel and DC superheros it might be difficult to found a religion, like Christianity, because all the heroes come back from the dead. The contrast would be lost. Short page on miracles and superheroes here.
Amazing Randi's million dollar JREF Challenge does not apply to religion
Many people reject religion and miracles because no one has claimed the one million dollar prize offered by the Amazing Randi's organization, but if you check rule 2.5 you see that the Amazing Randi admits that religion is untestable. I have a short essay and appropriate links to the rules for the Amazing Randi's million dollar JREF Challenge.
Religious Certainty and Scientific Certainty
The Catholic Church teaches that the faith is known with moral certainty, which is below the metaphysical certainty of math, and the scientific certainty of well established science.
Read more about it.
Scientists are Specialists, and God is not their Specialty
One of the most common reasons for rejecting religion is that so many prominent scientists are not religious. But scientists are specialists and God is not their specialty. Successful scientists often make their impressive discoveries by narrowly focusing on their area of specialty. Assuming that they know about God is a little like assuming that the guy who has spent the last twenty years putting the left front wheel on a Ford knows how to fix the engine. Just as the ordinary individual can learn to fix engines far better than the average auto production line employee, the ordinary individual can easily spend far more time investigating the truth of faith than the typical scientist does. Full essay on specialization in science here.
Christianity is Not a Bronze Age Faith
Christ began his teaching about thirty AD. This was between a millenium and a millenium and a half after the end of the Bronze Age and almost six centuries after the end of Iron Age.
Religion and the Educated
The more educated a person is the less likely they are to tell the pollsters that they believe in God or that religion is important to their lives. However, the educated are more likely to say they went to religious services in the last week. Education is negatively correlated with religious speech, but positively correlated with religious action. If actions speak louder than words then it would appear that the educated are more religious than the uneducated.
Why is there this disconnect between professed belief and action. Educated people seem to feel a greater need to match professed religious belief to action, and therefore religion is more expensive for them. Therefore educated people are more likely to say that they do not believe.
For the full essay on the statistics of religion and education click here.
Recently we have seen a good example of an educated man, and something of a genus, Brendan Eich, making a major sacrifice to match his behavior with his Catholic beliefs. It is well known that he gave a thousand dollars to the campaign for an anti-gay marriage initiative. But what is more he refused to approve of legal recognition of gay marriage. To do so would have been a serious violation of his Catholic faith, and tantamount to apostasy.
The Catholic Church has long been proud of its literary converts. Here is my list of Catholic literary converts. These are people who swam the Tiber against the current of their childhood education, family, and society.
Professionally writers often have to be more broadly knowledgeable than scientists. Scientists as argued above are specialists, often extreme specialists.
Converts are strong evidence that the faith is still a live intellectual option. As people convert both ways their conversions do not prove the truth of a position, but simply that high quality minds can be convinced by the idea.
Miracles and Evidence for Religion, Christianity, and the Catholic Church
I have a number of essays on Miracles I think I have spotted. Here is your chance to be a skeptical inquirer and play Amazing Randi. For the index page on Miracles click here.
Essays on Science, Religion, and Education
Evolution can wait until Junior High
Educators should avoid teaching evolution and many other hot button issues to elementary school children. When young people are taught ideas that are contrary to their parents religion they also learn other lessons, like my teacher is an agent of the devil, and my parents are stupid bigots. This can cause all sorts of educational and developmental difficulties. For the full essay on delaying the teaching of evolution click here.
For my YouTube video version of this essay, What Age to Teach Evolution and Hot Button Topics, click here.
Microevolution can coexist with 7 Day Creationism
Many of the concepts in the theory of evolution are not a problem for religious people. For example, young earth or seven day creationists accept microevolution, evolution within species, and therefore their beliefs do not prevent them from understanding or accepting the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria or insecticide resistance in insect pests. Churches and parents should teach this type of thing, so students will not doubt their faith when they run up against materials taught in science classes. Ideally science teachers should be able to point out that at least part of the lesson does not contradict commonly held religious beliefs in their community, so they can better teach at least part of evolution to everyone. For both voting, civic duty, and personal decisions this is important because micro evolution, evolution within species, is what we actually observe in ordinary life. I have both a web page and a video on this. The web page
is here. The YouTube video
Don't Think Like a Scientist Unless, You Are One
Educators frequently tell their students to think like scientists. This has encouraged climate skepticism and many other forms of skepticism. Scientists have to be very careful and therefore skeptical because they are deciding what science is for seven to eight billion people. The individual is right to take the short cut of trusting legitamate authority because they are largely deciding for themselves and have limited time. A more extensive treatment on science, skepticism, and the average man is here.
Video Response to Bill Nye
A final video responding to Bill Nye covers several points that I have yet to write web pages on. Bill Nye claims that if you teach your children creationism you are holding the nation back. I point out that America wins an extraordinary number of Nobel Prizes in the sciences in spite of the fact that many Americas believe in creationism and are generally ignorant of basic scientific ideas, for example, the fact that the earth orbits the sun once a year. I point out that science is a collective activity, sort of like an automobile production line, that works through extreme specialization. Therefore Americans can be individually ignorant of science, which we are, and at the same time collectively brilliant. Check out my first response to Bill Nye on Creationism here
Tell me what you think. Here is my