Melanie Rudd: How Awe Expands Our Perception of Time
- I am religious and I also find science very exciting. Is there a conflict between science and religion?
According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS):
Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists.
Progress in science consists of the development of better explanations for the causes of natural phenomena. Scientists never can be sure that a given explanation is complete and final. Some of the hypotheses advanced by scientists turn out to be incorrect when tested by further observations or experiments. Yet, many scientific explanations have been so thoroughly tested and confirmed that they are held with great confidence.
Truth in science, however, is never final, and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow. Science has been greatly successful at explaining natural processes, and this has led not only to increased understanding of the universe but also to major improvements in technology and public health and welfare.
The National Academy of Sciences also says:
Science is not the only way of acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. Humans gain understanding in many other ways, such as through literature, the arts, philosophical reflection, and religious experience. Scientific knowledge may enrich aesthetic and moral perceptions, but these subjects extend beyond science’s realm, which is to obtain a better understanding of the natural world.
Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each.
Many religious persons, including many scientists, hold that God created the universe and the various processes driving physical and biological evolution and that these processes then resulted in the creation of galaxies, our solar system, and life on Earth. This belief, which sometimes is termed ‘theistic evolution,’ is not in disagreement with scientific explanations of evolution. Indeed, it reflects the remarkable and inspiring character of the physical universe revealed by cosmology, paleontology, molecular biology, and many other scientific disciplines.
Quotes from: 1999 report “Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition” which is available online from the National Academy Press.