At the end of a presentation promoting the use of science and spiritual information together, a surgeon friend of mine began a lively discussion.
His final argument was persuasive: if you want the very best in spiritual information you have to go to the ancient philosophers, find the conclusions they’d reached and put it together from there. The ancient scholars were more to be trusted about such things.
He reinforced his point with the reality of medical education. When you read medical textbooks you’re automatically several years behind. To produce a textbook, information must be collected and written, then the book must be printed, distributed and sold. By the time you get the “brand new” book, five or more years have passed since it was current. You might go to a University professor or browse electronic media, and still not necessarily be up to date. The best medical science information is obtained by talking in person to a researcher in their lab. This way you get the best, most current information.
In summary, he believed religion’s best information is from the past and the very best is from the ancient past. Medical information is better if it is new and the very best is very new and cutting edge.
I was reminded of one of the lectures in my first year at medical school. My professor said, “today I have good and bad news for you. First the good news. Half of what we teach you here is right on, correct, and will always be true. Half of what we teach will be proven less than accurate by new discoveries. Now the bad news — we have no way of knowing which half is which.” This little piece of wisdom I have treasured and have found more valuable with each passing year.
This is somewhat true in religion also. Many ideas have come out of religion that look ridiculous in the light of our present understanding. Ideas like “the earth is flat”. The Bible says things like “to the ends of the earth” about forty times, and “to the four corners of the earth” twice. Does this prove that the Bible teaches a flat earth? They might have missed Isaiah 40:22 which speaks of the “circle of the earth”.
Another example is when the Bible talks about inherited characteristics being passed on by sight. Jacob found far more spotted and ringed animals in his herd after he put up striped and spotted poles in front of the breeding animals in Genesis 30, 31.
Mendel, a priest, came up with other differing and confirmable evidence in his garden around 1850 AD. Anesthesia for the pain of childbirth was roundly rejected at first. Since God had decreed that women would have pain in child-bearing (Gen 3:16), men said it was God-ordained to let them suffer! Misconceptions like these have made religion and science look like enemies.
But when a single author writes two books would you expect one to prove the other false? If a conflict was reported I would suspect the reader before I would suspect the author. The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture have one author.
Through the years, scientific people have asked me how, as a person with a scientific base, can I believe in this religious stuff? From the other side, some of my religious friends are suspicious when I insist on “proving it” before I’ll believe something.
I don’t think that just because things appear to be opposite, they can’t actually work together. So let’s drink a toast of clear fresh water to the happy marriage of supposed incompatibles!