In both religion and science, some people are dishonest, exploitative, incompetent and exhibit other human failings. My concern here is with the bigger picture.
I have been a scientist for more than 40 years, having studied at Cambridge and Harvard. I researched and taught at Cambridge University, was a research fellow of the Royal Society, and have more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals. I am strongly pro-science. But I am more and more convinced that the spirit of free inquiry is being repressed within the scientific community by fear-based conformity. Institutional science is being crippled by dogmas and taboos. Increasingly expensive research is yielding diminishing returns.
Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions. The details still need working out, but in principle, the answers are known.
Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system….
Since the beginning of the 21st century, it has become apparent that known kinds of matter and energy make up only about 4 percent of the universe. The rest consists of “dark matter” and “dark energy.” The nature of 96 percent of physical reality is literally obscure….
Good science, like good religion, is a journey of discovery, a quest. It builds on traditions from the past. But it is most effective when it recognizes how much we do not know, when it is not arrogant but humble.
In Christ the ideas of the gospel are guaranteed by the fact of Christ. Here are not unrealized ideas floating upon the horizon of men’s thinking, but ideas become personalized, looking at us with loving eyes and touching us with warm redemptive touch. A correct code of morals leaves us absolutely cold . . . We cannot commune with a sunbeam, or say our prayers to the force of gravity, or bow down to the multiplication table, however true they may be . . . Religion may be the driest thing in the world, but when Religion comes to us bending in lowly services, healing our wounds of body and soul, speaking to our drooping spirits and making them alive again, and showing us the Father, then we bow at the feet of Religion forever captivated.
Ultimately, science and religion should serve rather than dominate the human societies from which they emerged. Each, I believe, serves best from a stance of awe and humility that assumes as little as possible. The best from both worlds — the greatest scientists and the most profound religious thinkers and teachers — have always practiced these two qualities. Childlike awe motivated Einstein. “All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren,” he accepted. “The real nature of things, that we shall never know, never.” Similarly, the German Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner invoked both humility and awe when he asked, “Which do we love more, the small island of our so-called knowledge or the sea of infinite mystery?”
I think the important thing to realize is how little we know about anything — how flowers unfold, how butterflies migrate. We have to avoid the arrogance of persons on either side of the science-religion divide who feel that they have all the answers. We have to try to use our intellect with humility. –Dr. Joseph Murray, Noble Prize winning transplant surgeon