Science and Religion By Bruce Syvret

Recognition that both science and religion have changed its views over time.

During the 1970s I was regularly confronted with the view that science has the answer and religion is obsolete. However during the past 20 years I have observed a warming between science and religion, with many coming to a view that respects the complementary role of each. Why this change?

During the Middle Ages the church upheld the view that the earth is at the center of the universe and that gravity does not exist. We know how the church has changed its view on these matters and others. But has science also significantly changed its views?

For about 2300 years the dominant view of scientists has been that the universe is eternal (ie. having no beginning). As late as the early 1960s, 2/3 of US scientists still held this view. The biblical view of the universe as having a beginning, a creation, was ridiculed. However, with “Big Bang” theory, most of science has done a 180-degree turn and now subscribes to a beginning.

Another example. Until recently most scientists believed that life arose as a long drawn out process of gradual evolution of life forms. However since the 1980s, there is evidence that one-cell life began soon after the earth’s cooling (about 3.8 billion years ago). Following which there is no evidence of significant evolution until about 530 million years ago in the Cambrian era, when there was an explosion of life forms with all of the basic anatomies of life today appearing simultaneously. Science has had to acknowledge that the appearance of basic life forms is likely to have been much more rapid than previously believed.

Science and religion have complementary roles to play and value to offer.

What should we make of the above changes in view by both religion and science? Our individual and collective understandings are constantly evolving. And while our knowledge is never complete, both science and religion have identified positive truths to live by. We need a humble approach to human inquiry, accepting that different methods of approaching truth can each offer unique perspectives on identical realities: insights into life, the universe, and practical wisdom for life’s decisions.

Tuned for life.

When scientists present details of how the universe has unfolded, and the very high probabilities at different stages of things not working out as they have, many scientists have concluded that the universe seems “tuned for life since its inception”. It has been said that the likelihood of our universe evolving as it has, is like a person winning a hundred lotteries! Recent evidence seems to indicate that the formation of our universe and evolution of life is channeled within a limited range of possibilities so that the universe and life as we know it can exist. This channeling can by seen through faith as God’s guidance, as laws built into the very nature of reality, or as both.

In summary, these comments are not meant to present any definitive knowledge of science or religion, but rather to illustrate the complementary role of each and to call for mutual respect and affirmation.

Return from science and religion to Home