Must science and religion conflict? In our final conversation with Ben Spackman, he will compare two events that require a lot of faith to believe: Noah’s Flood and the resurrection of Jesus. What can we learn from science and religion on these two stories?
Ben: When it comes to the flood, what kind of evidence would a global flood that covered all the mountains to, I don’t remember 30 cubits deep, so we’re talking 30 cubits over the top of the Himalayas for at least 40 days. What kind of evidence should that leave in the historical record? Absolute masses of evidence everywhere should be in the historical record across dozens of disciplines and it’s simply not there. That again, is one area where I say, well, what does contextual reading actually get us with the flood? What is the flood actually trying to teach? Is it a historical event and that’s the important thing? Or is it doing something different? And like Genesis, I think it’s doing something quite different, but that’s another book.
So what can science tell us about scripture? Some things, not everything, and it depends on the question. Generalizing is dangerous and being simplistic is dangerous because things are rarely simplistic, which is a generalization.
We also talk about some of our most favorite scientists, and their relationship to religion.
Ben: Newton comes up with calculus and the laws of motion and all this stuff. What you’re not told is that Newton was doing this as a way to study God. What you’re not told is that Newton, who was somewhat unorthodox was still deeply religious and of the roughly 5 million words of his that we have preserved, 60-70 percent of that is interpreting the Bible, writing about the Tabernacle, trying to figure out the Old Testament timeline. These people who we think we’re doing science, not religion, they thought they were doing religion. So we have to be careful as we look back in time at these people, at religion and science in the past. [If you] think about Galileo’s story as theology crushing science, it doesn’t matter who you read, they’ll tell you it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Galileo, for example, was not a very subtle guy. He was friends with the pope and he put the pope’s argument in the mouth of one of his characters named Idiot. That’s not going to go over very well.
Check out our conversation…
Don’t forget to check out our previous conversations with Ben!
246: Misreading Genesis