Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Science & Religion" 2006

From the introduction to Holmes Rolston's magnificent "Science and Religion";

"The religion that is married to science today will be a widow tomorrow. The sciences in their multiple theories and forms come and go. Biology in the year 2050 may be as different from the biology of today as the religion of today is from the religion of 1850. But the religion that is divorced from science today will leave no offspring tomorrow. From here onward, no religion can reproduce itself in succeeding generations unless it has faced the operations of nature and the claims about human nature with which science confronts us. The problem is somewhat like the one that confronts a living biological species fitting itself into its niche in the changing environment: There must be a good fit for survival, and yet overspecialization is an almost certain route to extinction. Religion that has too thoroughly accommodated to any science will soon be obsolete. It needs to keep its autonomous integrity and resilience. Yet religion cannot live without fitting into the intellectual world that is its environment. Here too the fittest survive. A felicitous skill for getting good [i.e., functional] conclusions from premises that are partly faulty [and here] is a sign of genius both in science and in religion, and I covet that skill.
Some of my data, observations, and conceptions will prove incorrect and distorted. Given the flux in both science and theology, this work will soon prove dated.
It was not the scientists first but certain reforming theologians who resolved to put every account under a formula of “revisability” (semper reformanda!). Yet scientists and theologians alike try to give as systematic an account as is possible, given the state of the art and their own capacities [book vs. mimetic stuff, systematized theology, polemicism, issues of "Dogma in Judaism"]. I believe that my conclusions will stand in overview, even though the supporting details may shift. There is ample logical and experiential room for religious belief after science. Indeed, science makes religious judgments more urgent than ever. Never in the histories of science and religion have the opportunities been greater for fertile interaction between these fields, with mutual benefits to both."

Much tremendous warning and 'chizzuk', for all sides. A Judaism 'wed' to the analysis of "Slifkinism" is no less at risk than Jewish anti-evolutionists quoting long-outdated sources. There's lots more but for now I would also mention, in the context of his discussion of species and evironments, that science as a method came about only in the Biblical religious environment. Sure, little bits of species/technologies lived briefly in other contexts, and were so specialized to certain class/individual-niches indeed existed elsewhere (printing in China entrenched the regime and 'specialized/Mystified' written knowledge; Gutenberg overturned the western world; computers have in some ways overturned that world and made others, and in others returned it..lets just say kept it spinning), but nothing like scientific way of thinking that came out in the Christian/Biblical West (links later b'n).


At 6/28/2007 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pierre - I still think that as people's concept of reality changes, responses have to be made from the Torah world. The Moreh Nevuchim was written by the Rambam in response to Aristotelian Philosophy. Although I would guess that some of the work would be "outdated" one can always find value in this type of inquiry and possibly extrapolate attitudes regarding more modern philosophies and scientific discoveries.



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