In my opinion, it is not possible for religion to find a set of metaphysical ideas which will be guaranteed not to get into conflicts with an ever advancing and always changing science which is going into an unknown. We don’t know how to answer the questions; it is impossible to find an answer which someday will not be found to be wrong. The difficulty arises because science and religion are both trying to answer questions in the same realm here. Dr Richard Feynman, from “The Relation of Science and Religion”, a transcript of a talk given at the Caltech YMCA Lunch Forum on May 2, 1956. http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/49/2/Religion.htm
Dr. Feynman isn’t the only one to see religion and science as antithetical, or at least occupying completely separate ground. This seems to be a commonly accepted assumption, just as a ‘separation of church and state’ means there is no place in government for the recognition of faith. Leigh Bortin’s emphasis on the scientific method in the Classical Conversations curriculum is fresh, unusual, and exciting. My students and I are waking up to the possibilities.
Today in Science seminar we continue what I began last week, a short unit on science fair projects. In order to get involved with the process, I decided to work on a science project through the five weeks, illustrating every step of the procedure. My question has to do with the colors Mars chooses to use for MnM’s: Is there a color used more than others? Less? Does this percentage bear out across other colored candy products by Mars? Across other manufacturers? We open a large bag of 18 mini Fun-size bags, and meticulously counted what appeared in each one. What we found surprised us, but there is a lot more to do before we publish our results!
As we carefully tallied every MnM, we found ourselves laughing in delight because in following our curiosity, all sorts of questions were opening up. Scientific investigation, we agreed, is exciting. Who knows where it will lead? We wondered: What are the dyes made from? Do some cost more than others, and does this figure into the plenty or scarcity of a color? Will the percentages we find today also be found in a large bag of MnMs? What about Skittles or other loose colored candy?
Classical Conversations has created Science Fact cards, many of which my students and I are memorizing. They are in Q and A format, with additional information on the back. Today’s question was “What is the Scientific Method?” After the steps are listed and defined, there is a paragraph I quote in its entirety,
- The goal of the scientific method is to base knowledge on information that can be tested and demonstrated rather than on preconceptions or biases. Scientific knowledge is constantly growing and changing. The addition of new data requires scientists to have a flexible understanding of the universe. (© Classical Conversations ® MultiMedia, card 113)
This parallels the uncertainty held in such high regard by Dr. Richard Feynman, who states with authority that no one should place trust in the certainty of a scientist! The world is open to never ending exploration, accessible for curious minds to observe and handle and measure.
In the Bible, and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God reveals Himself and carefully communicates His message to His human creation. But about the physical world He does not go into detail. I marveled with the kids that He has left the mystery of His creation for us to explore, to question, to measure. Can’t you see Him, wrapping the intricacy of His handiwork in mystery, and then placing in boys and girls the urge to seek answers about what they experience? It is His delight to cover His handiwork, and our delight to dis-cover it. I imagine He crows in delight whenever someone hits upon the very heart of one of His masterpieces.
So, my two students and I are now feeling a freedom to peer into corners, to stare, and to measure. Not leaving science to the experts, we are off to uncover the order with which God has designed this world. Knowledge and faith coexist, and in fact, the latter is necessary for the first. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7. Faith and knowledge are not strangers; they are kindred.