Unknown/Unknowable

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Just as earlier writers would cite scripture to prove their arguments, modern writers cite science. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Science often makes claims that intersect in intriguing ways with religion.

Nevertheless, I am suspicious of supporting religious claims with scientific findings—and not for the usual reasons given by those influenced by the New Atheists, i.e., science is “true” and religion is “false” or, at best, pre-scientific attempts to explain the world. This false dichotomy has arisen out of the past century’s “science versus religion” fights, which have damaged both science and religion. The underlying falsehood believed by both New Atheists and fundamentalist believers is that science and religion attempt to uncover the same sort of truth.

Science is a venture into the unknown, the end of which is to return with provable facts. More importantly, though, it builds the expectation of being proven wrong into its method. “That is, every scientist tries to be (a) slightly less wrong than the scientists who came before them, by proving that something we thought was true actually isn’t, and (b) wrong in a way that can be tested and proven, which results in the next scientist being slightly less wrong” (h/t Robert Van Vliet). Unfortunately, many advocates for science these days have forgotten that science is a method, not a revealed religion. A human endeavor that requires the obsolescence of the past can only ever intersect obliquely with religion.

Religion is a venture into the unknowable, the end of which is the venture itself. Religion, at its best, does not attempt to give us facts; it is deep calling unto deep. It is the place where humans face the questions that have no answers.

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