Wednesday, December 12, 2012

 

Quotable: A Critical Difference

At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world. Whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence are not questions for science. Religious and scientific ways of knowing have played, and will continue to play, significant roles in human history.

No one way of knowing can provide all of the answers to the questions that humans ask. ...

Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.

Source: Working Group on Teaching Evolution, National Academy of Sciences. Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. (Washington, DC: National Academy Pr., 1998) p 58.

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Comments:
That presumes there is such a thing as the "supernatural": things that are not explainable by science. I would define the "supernatural" as "things were are not yet able to explain at our current level of knowledge".
 
You may define supernatural any way you wish but, according to the NAS report, your definition is not based on science as "Science can say nothing about the supernatural." They reiterate: "... science is precluded from making statements about supernatural forces because these are outside its provenance" (p. 124). As quoted, they also assert: "No one way of knowing can provide all of the answers to the questions that humans ask." That includes science (and religion). The ideology that says only science can provide true answers is known as "scientism".
 
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