“There’s a public perception that’s harmful to everyone: that science is hostile to faith, and that religious people aren’t interested in science.” So writes Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist and science writer. (Read his full article here.) Although Siegel calls himself an atheist, he recognizes that “anyone can learn how to investigate the world like a scientist, and a scientist can belong to any religion.” I’m glad that an atheist like Siegel is giving this issue the attention it deserves. This is common ground that we have.
There are different ways we as humans can come to know things. The scientific method is one of those ways. Faith in revealed truths is another. Philosophical reasoning is a third way, and this is where the dialogue between science and faith takes place. In other words, when we talk about science, we are doing philosophy; when we talk about faith, we are doing philosophy. Siegel does not explicitly state the role of philosophical reasoning in his article, but I think he does correctly imply it. He says, “There will always be room for wonder, and there will always be questions beyond humanity’s capabilities of drawing robust scientific conclusions.” These questions beyond science include both faith and philosophy. Arguments can certainly be made for specific faiths and specific philosophies, but I will leave that for another time.