Are Science And Religion Compatible?

In today’s society, science and religion are often framed as being at odds with each other. It is often assumed that religion, which relies on faith in a higher power, and science, which advances through proven, verifiable steps, are fundamentally different and cannot be reconciled.

And yet, some of the most acclaimed and successful scientists have been deeply religious people. For example, Isaac Newton, who made great strides in mechanics, mathematics, and optics, also wrote religious tracts interpreting Bible passages.

On the other hand, religion has sometimes stood in the way of scientific progress. Perhaps the most famous instance involves Galileo, who was placed under house arrest by the Pope for declaring that the earth travels around the sun and not the reverse.

Returning to today, scientists sometimes feel under attack from some political or religious groups. 2017’s March for Science, centered in Washington, D.C. but with protests around the U.S. and the world, was in response to these attacks. Issues like climate change are controversial and generate polarized views.

It can’t be argued that science has been beneficial to our society. Many of the advances that are available in our modern world, from improved medical procedures to smart phones and the Internet, came about because of applications of science. Religious and non-religious people alike share in the benefits of those advances.

Religion, also, has benefits to society. Churches provide a place and a reason to come together to foster a sense of community and establish shared values. Many religious organizations contribute to or run charities, to help those in need.

Efforts have been made to reconcile the two systems of beliefs. Some people suggest that science and religion operate on different planes, with science a useful tool in understanding the physical world, and religion dealing with the spiritual side of life. It may be that the two are not just compatible, but in fact are dependent on each other. The excesses of each could be curbed by the other.

So which is it? Are science and religion inherently in conflict with each other, or can a way be found for the two to exist side-by-side? Are science and religion compatible?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? When is doubt helpful? How can we encourage debate? What makes a community?

How Can We Become Better Listeners?

Listening to others is hard. If someone else says something you don’t agree with, the overwhelming impulse is not to listen, but to explain why you disagree.

But that impulse is not always correct. Often, you have to hear why someone believes something before you can try and change their mind. And that means it is important to listen to what they have to say, no matter how wrong-headed or incorrect you might think they are.

As a society, we are currently divided into two (or more) isolated camps. I often hear that we don’t talk to each other, but I think the problem is really that we don’t listen to each other.

Beyond our political or social climate, studies in management show that to make an effective team, the members of that team need to feel that they are heard. To get team investment in a particular strategy or course of action, all team members need to feel they have a stake in setting that course.

Even when arguing with a spouse or a romantic partner, it’s possible to hear the words, but to miss the underlying message that is causing the disagreement.

In each of these cases, listening to others is important. And yet it is a difficult skill to learn, to really listen to what others have to say. It seems like it should be easy to do — after all, we all know how much we want to be heard ourselves, so why do we find it so hard to allow others to feel like they are heard?

I think that maybe it is because we feel no one listens to us that makes us bad listeners. If I feel that the person I am talking to isn’t listening to me, then my effort is on making them hear me, not on hearing them.

So how can we break this cycle? How can we listen to someone else, and let them know that what they have to say is heard, so that they in turn can be willing to hear what we have to say? What are the tools that allow us to do that? How can we sort through the extraneous information, like insults or unnecessary detail, to really hear what is at the core of another’s message?

How can we become better listeners?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What is necessary to change your mind? What do we have in common? How can we encourage debate?

Why Do You Live Where You Live?

Our home and our community can be a major component in the way we define ourselves. It is also an important part of the way we present ourselves to others.

There are many reasons why someone may choose a particular place to live: they may have family nearby, perhaps they moved for a job, it’s where they grew up, they went to college there and stayed after graduating, moved for a romantic partner, it was all they could afford, etc.

So the first part of this week’s question is just that: what are the circumstances that led you to be where you currently live? Do you like it? Why or why not?

There is another aspect to the question, as well. What are the things about the place where you live that you enjoy? Is it the neighbors? The quirky shops nearby? Perhaps it is surrounded by nature, or gives off a modern vibe that energizes you.

Maybe you don’t like where you live, and are hoping to move someday. What is it you don’t like? What will you be looking for? Where would be the ideal place for you?

Ultimately, we conflate who we are and where we live, for better or worse. What does your choice say about you?

Why do you live where you live?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? Why do we put up with unhappiness? What makes a place feel like home? What makes a community?

 

How Can You Help?

Intellectual Roundtable needs your help.

For more than a year, we have been publishing a new question every Sunday, designed to bring some quiet contemplation to your otherwise busy lives. As time goes on, the number of people visiting the site has been steadily decreasing. Fewer and fewer people are answering the questions, or are even being exposed to them.

We’re looking for ways to reverse this trend, and have more people read the questions, answer them, and interact with others doing the same.

Hence our question: How can you help? You might look through our list of past questions, find one that you like, and answer it. Maybe you can propose a question of your own using our online form. Perhaps you can share the blog on Facebook, via email, or other social media platforms via the icons on each page. Even if you don’t want to contribute to content in any way, you can provide some feedback about what does or doesn’t work for you with what we are doing and how we are doing it.

But there’s a second meaning to the question as well. In your life, there will always be people or causes that you care deeply about. Something may be a passion project for you or for your community. How can you bring attention to a cause, or take actual, concrete steps toward improving or enhancing something you care about? What are the ways you can strengthen bonds between you and loved ones?

How can you help?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community? How do you define success?