This conflict has gone on far back into history; the most clear example that comes to mind is the resistance of the Catholic Church to the adoption of the Copernican model of the solar system. For many centuries the Church openly claimed that Aristotle's model was in fact true to nature. Yet as Galileo demonstrated, anyone with eyes, patience, and a crude spotting scope could see that in fact Aristotle was wrong. Celestial spheres were not smooth and perfect; all objects did not revolve around the Earth.
Why did the Church resist something so easily observable? Was it politics? Was it fear of going back on what it had claimed to be "truth?" Ultimately, whether or not the Earth was the center of the universe had no real effect on the Church's continued survival or the faith of future Catholics.
Our lives are saturated by science and technology, yet only when scientific method is applied to questions of the origins of humanity and the universe does science become an apparent threat. This to me is the most curious point: the same methodology used to provide the computer you're now using, the CAT scan you just had, or the car in which you drove to the doctor is precisely the same methodology being used to develop Big Bang theory and evolution.
"Evolution is only a theory!"
Yes, but so is quantum mechanics, through which modern electronics are possible; so is relativity, which has been confirmed countless times and is also factored into modern technology such as GPS satellites.
Perhaps the casual use of the term "theory" can be source of confusion. A scientific theory is not the same as "a theory on who ate the last piece of the pizza." Hypothesis doesn't roll of the tongue quite so easily, but a guess, even an "educated" guess, is not the same as a theory. A working scientific theory is constructed from a hypothesis once observation and experiment is conducted and validated many times by many groups of scientists around the world.
Strictly speaking, all scientific "laws" are theories as well. You can't prove something with scientific method; you can only disprove it. If you do an experiment 1000 times and on the 1001th time you get a different result, you have to start from scratch. The term "law" is used when a theory has gone through rigorous testing for so many years that it generally accepted as accurate (or, "the truth," if you prefer).
Understanding wrought through vigorous scientific method is accumulative; one theory gives way to a more accurate one. For example, while Newton's theory of gravity...his "laws"...work in everyday experience, they less accurately describe the universe than Einstein's theory of general relativity. For the most part, noticeable relativistic effects happen only in the most extreme situations; nothing we will ever experience. However, we have a more intimate understanding of space and time because of his superior theory. In the same way, one day a new theory will combine quantum mechanics and general relativity into a unified quantum theory of gravity. The new theory will take the place of the old ones not because they were wrong but because it more clearly and completely describes the universe.
The point: does general relativity, replacing Newtonian gravity, threaten your view of god? I am guessing not! But on the other side of the coin, if god exists and science has led us to a more clear picture of the universe, don't we have a greater understanding of god because of science?
How can we accept scientific theory in so many aspects of our lives, then deny its validity as a problem-solving methodology for a handful of specific applications?
What of evolution? Few theories have sparked more conflict. Evolution does indeed contradict many elements, many themes of the bible. There are many people who simply dismiss it completely out of hand; many of whom know very little about it. There are others who try to interpret scientific research in such a way that creationism - in some form - is still feasible...or that evolution is disproved completely.
Yes, as long as it is a valid theory it will be taught, or at least referred to, in high school science classes because you can't easily separate modern scientific theories. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, geology, ect are all interconnected...they are all elements of one big picture.
There are those who view their spiritual beliefs as completely abstract. Their beliefs may shape the way they look at the world and perhaps their behavior but they see no need to make reality match those beliefs. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who try to make the world fit neatly within their belief structure; such as the Amish, who abandoned technology in their daily lives (in fact, they simply drew a line in the sand at which they would not let technology advance further; they do indeed use technology). The majority of us are somewhere in the middle. Is there a balance through which people could continue to maintain their religious views without feeling that their beliefs were being threatened?
Edited by locally pwned, 29 April 2008 - 02:44 PM.