Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Science vs. Religion, Consensus vs. Certainty

Although the debate of evolution vs. intelligent design seems to be over, the conflict between rational thought and religion still rages. It presents itself in subtle ways, undermining progress on global warming, informing the debate on same-sex marriage and the delivery of medical treatment.

Yet, as the discussion continues, what I have noticed is the level of certainty vs. consensus. Specifically, religious leaders seem to have certainty in abundance, but have a hard time reaching consensus. So many are absolutely certain their view of what it means to be Christian (or Muslim or Jewish) is correct, yet they can't reach a consensus on basic issues, such as the divinity of Christ or whether one is saved by grace or good works or whether dancing is a sin or not. (Or drinking. Or gambling. Or...)

Science, on the other hand, has plenty of consensus, but almost no certainty. Every scientist around the world agrees on what the speed of light is, what the chemical composition of water is, the frequency of ultraviolet light...or thousands of other facts. Yet, for all their agreement, scientists stand ready to change their minds and come to a different consensus when new evidence comes along that conflicts with current thought.

So why does it seem our President puts so much more trust in religion than he does in science?

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