Is Religion “Poisoning” Science?

On January 27, 2011, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

When I tried Google with “religion poisoning science” (quotes used) Google said “no results found,” even though I thought that was a topic of discussion on an forum. Let’s dig to the foundation. Do origin philosophies influence how we interpret scientific ideas? How much they do!

After many years investigating eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs, and many years of reading what critics say about me and my associates (mostly criticisms related to differences in religious beliefs), the phrase “religion poisons science” may not have come up in those exact words, but the meaning is clear: At least a few vocal critics, who believe “science” supports their own philosophies, strongly object to Biblical foundations of thinking, when it influences ideas about science. I suspect that many of those critics have been unaware of the religious or pseudo-religious nature of their own basic assumptions: They fail to realize that they also form opinions based upon philosophical foundations.

Let’s briefly consider the two extremes of one conflict of belief: billions of years of the evolution of life on this planet versus six thousand years of the existence of the universe. What do those two points of view have in common? Both opinions are based upon layers of assumptions; both come from deep-seated beliefs that are not subject to scientific proof or disproof, for those are basic world views, philosophical foundations of belief. (Neither is at the base of philosophical foundations, but that is too deep a subject for this post.)

While critics blast my suggestions about Marfa Lights of Texas (bioluminescent flying predators, possibly related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea) and my literal acceptance of reports of living pterosaurs flying in modern times (in many areas of the world), I continue to promote literal interpretation of particular Bible scriptures, including the worldwide Flood of Genesis and the hand of God in the divine introduction of basic life forms to the divinely molded earth environment that allows life to thrive. And I continue to accept the label of “creationist,” although I do not think of myself as a Young Earth Creationist in the usual sense: I do not believe that the universe is six thousand years old.

I believe that God placed a variety of life onto this planet, according to Genesis, but I do not insist that those first few chapters in that book must make the universe six thousand years old, as if God would never place any life on any other world, at any time, for any purpose.

“Poisoning science” is a phrase available to both YEC Bible believers and “Darwinists.” But all normal adult humans (regardless of the philosophies chosen) make assumptions, layering assumptions over the basic philosophical foundations; that leaves much room for human error, even when we think we are defending a basic truth and even when we are indeed defending a basic truth. How much more productive to avoid judging persons, judging specific parts of ideas instead! How much we need more clear thinking and less accusations!

Why not consider the obvious: extreme conflicts of opinion may involve assumptions on both sides, and both sides may have been holding dogmatically to ideas containing both truth and error? Let’s avoid accusing a person or group of person of poisoning science, instead looking for the truth and error in ideas. Let’s consider the counsel of C. S. Lewis: “Well, let’s go on disagreeing but don’t let us judge.”

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2 Responses to “Is Religion “Poisoning” Science?”

  1. […] Contact Indava of PNG and Marfa Lights Is Religion “Poisoning” Science? […]

  2. Although Marfa Lights are only mentioned briefly in this post, it deserves a note about this press release:

    These ghost lights in Texas often behave more like predators than like non-living earth lights or ball lightening.