Chapter 24
Faith and Science in Conflict

Let’s briefly review, again, the simple definitions of “faith” and “science” we have been using from chapters 18 and 19:

Faith: Belief in something that has not been directly observed.

Science: Knowledge about the natural world and universe derived from experiments, observation, and reason.

Since faith generally involves belief in things that are not directly observed, and science generally involves knowledge about things that are observable, there doesn’t need to be conflict between the two. So, why does there often appear to be conflict between faith and science?

We should understand that conflicts between faith and science can happen in two fundamentally different ways:

If we are to have any hope of resolving faith and science conflicts between different people, we should first be able to understand and resolve such conflicts within ourselves. So, let’s focus on conflicts at a personal individual level.

Many people simply think that conflicts between faith and science can’t be resolved, so they don’t even try to reconcile the two, not even within their own understanding. However, I believe that the “law of non-contradiction” is valid. This law, developed from ancient times through several philosophical traditions, basically states:

I believe this law of non-contradiction is true in all matters of science (things we can consistently observe) and faith (things not directly observed). I believe that true science does not contradict faith regarding things that are true. So, based on the law of non-contradiction, I claim the following to be true:

Contradictions in our beliefs serve to indicate to us that we are believing in something that is false. Applied to our own lives, this serves as a way to help us identify false beliefs and free ourselves from them. If there is a contradiction in our beliefs, then we ought to adjust our faith beliefs or our science knowledge to resolve that contradiction.

Now let’s look briefly at faith and science conflicts between different people or different groups of people. It should not be difficult to see that many of these conflicts result from one or both sides believing things that aren’t true, whether they are “scientific” things or matters of faith. Since most people are slow to embrace changes in their beliefs, conflict resolution is usually a slow and difficult process.

For Further Reflection:

Contents | Next