Science and Religion Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Scientists are experts in their field and religion is rarely in their field of expertise.

The modern factory with its production line is amazingly productive. The workers typically repeat a simple task over and over with great efficiency. They are an extreme example of the specialization that makes the modern economy so productive. But, we do not assume that the guy who has been putting the left front wheel on a Ford for many years knows how to fix the engine. He might have become a good auto-mechanic in his spare time, but the fact that he works on an automobile production line tells us little about his ability to fix a car.

Similarly, modern science is amazingly productive and it also achieves its productivity through extreme specialization. It is a standard joke in academia that the objective is to know more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. By narrowly focusing on one area the scientist is able to make amazingly complex and sophisticated discoveries, but outside his field he is frequently quite ignorant. There is a rule in science, everyone is a layman outside of his own field of expertise. Furthermore, it is obvious that God and religion are almost always outside of the scientist's professional field of expertise.

The distinguished scientist may well be distinguished in part because he did not let extraneous questions which would not help his research career interrupt his narrow focus on his research. It has been noted how often the top entrepreneurs who created our most famous web services in the Silicon Valley turned down other projects which proved to be very successful. Their success was achieved through narrow focus on their own project, allowing them to get it to market slightly ahead of their competitors. The successful can be a bit like horses with blinders that force them to focus on what is ahead of them. These horses are good for pulling and perhaps riding, but they do not have a broad view of the world.

A study of Fortune 500 CEOs illustrates the point that even the highly intelligent can be incredibly ignorant. The majority of Fortune 500 CEOs thought that someone owned the Internet, and a large minority thought Microsoft owned it. But the study found the average 6th grader knew the truth. No one owns the Internet. The TV show Are You Smarter than a Third Grader is based on this. Adults, even highly educated adults frequently do not remember the basic facts they were taught in elementary school as well as the third graders who learned them more recently.

The average individual can over the course of a normal lifetime spend many times as much time investigating the issues of faith as many probably most successful scientists do, and can develop a far more sophisticated understanding of the issues. This is not to say that the average truck driver knows more about religion than the average Nobel Prize winner in the sciences, but that if he wants to know more, it is not that difficult for him to learn it.

So God leaves open an opportunity, or perhaps many opportunities, for the unsophisticated but dedicated to find him, while the narrowly sophisticated scientist impresses us all but does not understand God who is outside his specialty.

This web site has several essays on science, religion, and education. The science, religion, and education index page is here.

If your are interested in science and religion you might be interest in this evidence for the Catholic faith. One of the pages is on Bible typology. This is your chance to play Amazing Randi and debunk miracle claims.

Once your found the fatal errors in my reasoning you can pass on your insights in my guest book.

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Many public radio stations used to broadcast a comedy show originally titled, Ask Dr Science. The show urged the audience to listen to Dr Science because, "he knows more than you do. He has a master's degree in science." Part of the joke is that very few people, perhaps none, have a master's degree in science. Lots of people have master's degrees in chemistry, physics, or other field of science, but few or none in science as a whole. Whats more actual scientists are far more specialized than that.