The undergraduate student body at UR is composed predominantly of engineering and pre-medical students, and as such I feel safe in assuming that Evan Keegan’s opinions article “Science and Faith” was of great interest to many who happened to read the Jan. 23 issue of Campus Times. Though the piece was well-written, and I appreciate anyone who thinks deeply on issues of theological and scientific importance, I feel compelled to make a few corrections about the claims made by the writer.

First, I would like to refute the first proposition set forth by the writer: science is, in fact, not a belief, as religion is. It isn’t something based upon faith. Science is a methodology, a self-corrective means of understanding natural phenomena through careful experimentation. Belief, as implicitly defined by the writer, has nothing to do with understanding. It has to do with feelings and intuitions. Feelings and intuitions are indeed powerful psychological forces, but when it comes to trying to unlock the secrets of existence, they are inadequate. We accept easy answers before we accept difficult ones, and that is why religion falls short of science. Our feelings and intuitions provide easy answers, whereas the careful progress of science provides concepts that are often difficult to understand and painful to accept.

The writer used gravity as an example of something, “which cannot be directly or fully explained and yet [is] generally accepted to be true,” but I’m afraid this argument simply does not stand. This is what is sometimes referred to as the, “God of the gaps”. We lack information about a topic and so fill in the missing information with a simple idea: God did it. The problem with this manner of thinking, and it is a very dangerous problem indeed, is that it results in a sort of complacency with ignorance. If we think we can delegate comprehension to the cop-out of “God did it,” then we lose the drive to actually learn. God was once used to explain weather phenomena, the biological diversity of Earth, the nature of matter, and a whole host of other things. That is, until we discovered climate patterns and geology, evolution by natural selection, and atomic theory.

Would we have gained this knowledge had the great thinkers of the human race been content with “God did it”? I think not. Science has a tendency to fill in these gaps. God is running out of hiding places.

I don’t claim to know much about physics, and I doubt my mathematical capacity would stand the test of attempting to elucidate the nature of gravity or quantum entanglement. Keegan seems to suggest that he has a knowledge of these things, which I admit I lack. But the God of the gaps is an old argument, one which needs to be retired, and I cannot see how quantum particles existing outside of space-time justify the belief that a conscious, omnipotent, omniscient Creator exists outside of space-time, unless one thinks that God is a quantum particle.

I am of the opinion that when we encounter a lack of knowledge, we must face it courageously and head-on, with a desire to shine a light upon the abyss of missing understanding we see gaping before us. Hiding behind the myths of ancient Middle-Eastern nomads might be comforting for some, but it isn’t going to help us now.

Keegan asks the question, “if we can believe in such inexplicable scientific theories, why should it be ridiculous to believe in a God who exists outside of time?” However, these theories are not, of course, inexplicable. Indeed, the very fact that scientists refer to them as theories means that they are explicable, since theory is defined within the scientific community as “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena” according the the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Theories aren’t inexplicable their very purpose is explanation.

Furthermore, a single word is enough to explain why some such as myself find the idea of God ridiculous: evidence. Science is, in a way, nothing but evidence, coupled with predictions based upon the evidence already gathered. Religion has no evidence in its favor. There are claims made in the Bible which are obvious fallacies, such as the notion that the universe as we see it today was created in a matter of days, as opposed to billions of years. Once science found these creeds to be untrue, the religious  decided that “days” was really just a metaphor. I remain unconvinced all the same.

Scientific claims are not based upon assumption. They are based upon hypotheses and rigorous attempts to disprove such hypotheses. When it seems that a hypothesis stands, after all the rigorous testing intended to disprove it, we accept it to be true. Science constantly fixes its own mistakes, and as an enterprise carried out by imperfect humans, mistakes will of course be made. Religion, however, rather than being self-correcting, has remained more or less unchanged. If the Bible was holy over two thousand years ago, it must continue to be holy today. When scientific evidence comes along that seems to dispro ve religious claims, religion either reinterprets dogma or sticks its fingers in its ears and hums to itself until the nasty thoughts reluctantly go away. This does not seem like a mature way to conduct oneself in the modern world.

The truth is, science and religion are in conflict, and science is winning. This conflict goes deeper than the fact that religion makes untrue claims which science eventually proves false; it is far more about the manner of thinking prevalent in the respective fields. Whereas religion generally dislikes being critically examined, science is predicated upon it. Scientists want to be proven incorrect if their hypothesis is not accurate. But the religious hypothesis of God resists experimentation or even critical reasoning. You may believe in God if you like, but don’t make the mistake of thinking religion to be just as valid as science.

O’Neil is a member of 

the class of 2017.

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