Science and Faith

Sat Mar 7 16:41:08 EST 1998

Ken, your point and that of Scott Meissner, to whom I responded personally
before reading yours,  are well taken.  While religious faith tenants are
perhaps less frequently tested and questioned, I do not believe the
Judeo-Christian faith is to be taken blindly without exercising serious
rational effort.   This should be the basis for our approach to science and
philosophy in the classroom.  Each student should feel comfortable to
question science theory and dogma.   

Christ's teaching are loaded with logic as are those of the Apostle Paul
who reasoned with the Greek scholars.   I would agree that a religious
movement that demands a following without question deserves criticism.

JE. Silvius
Cedarville College
Cedarville, OH  45314
silviusj at

>>> Ken Klemow <kklemow at> 03/06 2:01 PM >>>
I can't resist jumping in here.

John E. Silvius wrote:
>Dr. G, is there not an element of FAITH involved in both natural science
>and religion?  Max Planck, Nobel Laureate in Physics makes a statement
>which you may find interesting:
(interesting statement deleted)
>Planck's claim that natural science is rooted in faith is consistent with
>biblical worldview....

I suppose that essentially everthing we do has some element of faith.  For
example, in composing this message, I have faith that it will be
distributed to computers subscribing to PLANT_ED, and will be read by at
least a few individuals.

So too, in doing science, we also accept - with some degree of faith - the
findings of others who have examined natural phenomena to levels of detail
beyond which any one of us has time.  However, that "faith" is also
tempered by a healthy dose of skepticism, and a willingness to abandon any
idea in the face of conflicting evidence.

Religious faith is wholly different in that it demands individuals to
believe something, even if conflicting evidence is present.  Thus, those of
us who adhere to western religions are forced to believe in a variety of
myths like special creation of species, floods, prophets spending time in
the bellies of fish, or unsubstantiated "miracles."

While most scientists accept key concepts like the atomic structure of
matter, evolution, or even global warming, the vast majority would abandon
those ideas in a heartbeat if presented with credible evidence to the
contrary.  For example, the widely accepted super-organismal model of plant
communities esposed by Clements earlier this century died a relatively
quick death, thanks to the work of Whittaker, Curtis, etc.  Most religions
(especially the fundamentalist varieties) do not permit such freedom of
thought; you MUST BELIEVE, or else you are of no faith.  Such dogmatic
absolutism is clearly what elicits the objections of people like Ephram

Ken K.

Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of Biology & GeoEnvir. Sci.
Department of Biology
Wilkes University
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
e-mail: kklemow at 
phone: 717-408-4758
fax: 717-408-1003


More information about the Plant-ed mailing list