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December 30, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

How should science and faith interact best? Integrating science and faith

I’m not denying evolution (micro & macro)–i’m just suggesting it. I’m denying that evolution and evolution alone (cold dark forces that are in the universe) is sufficient as a controlling mechanism to provide survival and optimization for such a diverse set of beings. (I would moreover contend that much of our bounty of blessing in the world). For instance, if you saw a highway interstate and cars moving on that road….and asked yourself….why are they moving forward–towards their destination? why are they staying in the bounds? why aren’t they crashing? you wouldn’t say the cars self-directed themselves–or that the roads made them do it. although the design of the roads is certainly one part. a systems theorist could look at this from multiple perspectives:
1. human choice & human learning
2. design of the roads & road signs for direction
3. legal frameworks
4. perhaps cultural frameworks around respecting the law (at least within 10 miles or so).

Similarly, I think deeper forces are at play–more fundamental forces. In the same way that atoms alone are insufficient to explain everything (we now have quantum mechanics and string theory)….I find evolution limiting–a lense or perspective perhaps which is too narrow. And, find that the attempt to lay it on everything a bit overdone. Females do X….ergo evolution. Humans do X….ergo evolution. The pop science on this one is troubling….a bit. It begins to sound a lot like the God of the gaps logic you sort of laid at the feet of many theological or spiritual thinkers. Evolution then becomes nebulous like destiny.

I’m confused how as you portrayed it science is above human biases. Behavioral economics and psychology is rife with challenges to making decisions. Moreover, the challenges of living within an academic or even career based. Each department at your company literally looks at the world differently.

The canon of science isn’t free from blindspots and biases–and the idea of “pure” science is a bit of a myth. There is a distinction between two parts of science:
1. Science as science is (reality)
2. Science as its perceived & acted upon in a group. (perception & psychology of group dynamics, interplay, norms, and power structures)

Moreover, the assumptions of science aren’t neutral. All ideas have ideology. All epistemologies have ideology. Even Feymann seems to acknowledge this challenge (I read a bit of the science critique which came out of camp on the space topic) although this is echoed elsewhere–but probably with more ideological baggage. From what I understand the best critique of materialist science comes from Alvin Platinga, who recently passed away. I don’t technically know if its the best–but its probably one of the more analytical approaches–as he was an analytical philosopher.

And if we return to Einstein….I think it was he that said that if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Or at least he was credited with the need to look at other levels of analysis and other perspectives. Both arguments for a more inclusive or integrative space. Not necessarily pure-science….but a space where science can play with the humanities. Where ideas can combine–like peanut butter and chocolate to form Reeses Peanut butter cups–or to put it in more direct evolutionary language–a place to have idea sex.

You spoke of the need for data and thats true. But the person of faith isn’t without data. Its just he/she puts their primary question marks in different places. And it probably is different types of proof/evidence–because they are different questions. Especially in the context of decisions in life that have to be made based on less than sufficient evidence or rather in the context of limited data or inputs. In those situations you still have to make decisions. The realities of life and death–the realities of the human condition (i.e. temptation and worship of various forms of corrupting power).

Point taken. As I see it, Foucault is critiquing the materialist power of life and death–which squeezes out the spiritual or the meaningful. Foucault is probably no fan of religion–but I think he’s trying to critique the secular-liberalism state. Misuse of any ideology is biopower. I think the examples you cite on science’s side are certainly illustrative. I think the Golden rule uniquely checks that back (the virtues in the New Testament do as well: humility, compassion, etc…).

Science seems to eliminate the messy…..well this is a messy question. It seems ill-suited to answer it.
The lab has many answers…. but ends up short on a number of others.
The spreadsheet has many answers…..but ends up short on a number of others.
I think there is a role for some ideological segregation….but I think there is a role for integration as well.

I think the question then is how is the integration possible?
• I can accept the conclusions of science, but allow faith to rule in questions of ethics & character
• I can accept the conclusions of science, but allow faith to provide context to that science
• I can accept the conclusions of science, but allow other domains to fill in the gaps.

It seems to me that your integration perhaps lies in a territorial or purpose based question. The question though it seems…is what is your response to those who seem to stretch science’s applications (and dominion) to everything. That seems to dilute its power and its force–and to undermine its purposes. It seem that an integrationist would in some ways be most threatened (or at least equally so) by those who over-expand its….in the same way that someone in the military might be threatened by those who want to declare empires abroad.

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