Response to NYTimes Article “Mystery and Evidence”
I don’t think Catholicism is hostile to the scientific method in the least: we believe that God us to understand the beautiful nature he created, so that we can better our lives. The trial of Galileo is famous…, but I think it reflects the hostility of the Europeans to science more than the hostility of Christians. The religion bloomed even in Greece! We forget, when we talk about medieval times, that people were influenced more by their local culture and its superstitions than by the Catholic Church.
But to get to the main point. I’m sympathetic to the author’s point, because people who think that religion (or any other basic human activity, like dance or music or sports) is beneath them are shortsighted. But he could explore this idea more. Scientists can be as dogmatic as anyone; let’s not forget some of the ridiculous rubbish scientists have spewed over the years, like alchemy and leeching. Paradigm shifts in science are so difficult because scientists who have invested so much in the old paradigm cling to it with their emotions, not just their logic.
It takes faith to believe in the scientific method, just like it takes faith to believe in God. You can believe in both, or you could believe in neither and be a skeptic like David Hume. If a scientist is proven wrong, he doesn’t question the scientific method; he questions his own assumptions. So it is with a Christian whose prayers are not answered. If I pray for something that would be bad for me, should God answer that?
Oddly enough, the existence or non-existence of God doesn’t interest me as much anymore. Partially it’s because of the miracles that have happened to me. More importantly, it’s because my religion has taught me how to love other people, and it continues to discipline and guide me. Anyone would have to admit that that’s worth my time.