How can science and religion be linked?

Theology tries to chain reason

The desperate attempts of theologians and religious representatives to put reason on the chain of faith make one thing clear: their opponent is not non-belief or even atheism, but science, in particular scientific education and the rational on which it is based way of thinking developed in reality. Natural science is reality science, whereas theology is a kind of transcendent studies. God as the object of theology is an imagined, that is, presented phenomenon, the existence of which, although it cannot be refuted, it cannot be substantiated either. The natural sciences think and research openly, for theology the truth is already established in principle due to revelation, it only has to be interpreted and placed in the relevant factual and temporal context.

The natural sciences have empiricism, the observed reality, as a criterion for truth. Theologians do not have such a corrective that makes their theories closer to the truth. It is true that they try to keep their theological constructions free of contradictions, but that does not mean that these thought structures have to have any real basis in reality. And how is the proof of truth for something that cannot be objectively verified? As you can see, however, a logically coherent system - at least in part - of theological claims and conclusions can survive the centuries in a world of thought and on paper. Since it only exists in a conceptual and conceptual way, it cannot be refuted empirically either.

A "higher truth" overcomes the contradiction

There are devout natural scientists who deny that there is an opposition between faith and reason, between religion and natural science. One pretends to make contradictions between faith and reason compatible by raising the contradiction to a "higher truth" which is beyond our human understanding. However, I see no reason to accept such theological constructions as a "higher truth", as one can contradict the alleged compatibility of belief and knowledge with obvious reasons:

A God who supposedly created the world and man and who would intervene in our lives to this day, an immortal soul independent of matter, who would connect us to God, the holding of miracles like the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension to heaven - all that are Belief elements that are diametrically opposed to a scientific worldview, which today can be described as causally closed and largely explained in its structures, one could also say: stand unrelated to belief. The question of a moral anchor point and the question of the meaning of life do not require any belief in a supernatural being in order to be answered. Today sociobiology can convincingly prove that morality developed evolutionarily and can therefore be justified within the world. And when asked about the meaning of our earthly existence, from a humanistic-philosophical perspective, much more insightful and convincing can be said for me than from the perspective of a belief that was conceived in ancient Palestine by people who knew little about the world and even less understood of it.

A physicist and Protestant - "from head to toe"

The astrophysicist and philosopher Professor Harald Lesch, known from television, is in his person an example of a harmony between science and religion that seems highly dubious to me. Anyone who has ever seen him explain the Big Bang with blackboard and chalk, often with only language and gestures, is initially fascinated by his didactic skills. He can explain and inspire and give us within a short time an idea of ​​the overwhelming splendor of the cosmos and the elegance of the laws of nature that prevail in it. He can show us the self-organization of nature in exemplary, understandable simplicity, without any recourse to divine work.

On the other hand, he says of himself, "I am a Protestant from head to toe". A commitment that makes you sit up and take notice for a moment and pay respectful attention to an academic teacher of his stature. But one immediately wonders how two very contradicting concepts of the most different nature fit together: a self-contained description of natural events that does not require supernatural forces on the one hand and a belief in a God who intervenes with miracles in world events on the other, in his trinity with the Holy Spirit and God's Son Jesus , of original sin and sacrificial death for the purpose of the redemption of mankind.

Elegance and Simplicity: A 4000 Year Gap

I could still accept that he believes in a power that stands behind all things. Because even non-believers and atheists have no simple, if any, answers to the question of the ultimate source of all being. But the artificiality and logical fragility of the Christian belief in an omnipotent God, who is said to have created humanity, but which, despite his omnipotence and omniscience, has become so malicious and sinful for him that it needs redemption through a divinely induced human sacrifice, is - I say expressly: for me - from such an antediluvian thinking that I ask myself how two very different concepts and above all ways of thinking can coexist in one head without intellectual distress. In this contrast between scientific elegance and legendary simplicity, around 4000 years of cultural history are expressed.

Is it early childhood indoctrination that Lesch cannot get rid of? Is it the price for an opportunity for media development and public recognition that would otherwise not be possible for him? Is it a conscious acceptance of opposites, because neither of the two worldviews provides an answer to "How does the world work" and "Why does the world exist"? Nevertheless: The thoughtfulness, inner coherence and explanatory power of our current scientific worldview and the simplicity and archaism of the Christian faith cannot, in my opinion, be intellectually reconciled. Such a two-part worldview can only be accepted if uniformity, coherence, plausibility, elegance are not given any importance as criteria for an intellectually satisfying view of the world. For me, such thinking represents an escape from reality into a mystical world of desire and fantasy.

With further inquiries one likes to withdraw to a pantheistic conception, i.e. an idea according to which God and world are ultimately identical. But what else does such a generalized belief in God say? And what about the core statements of Christian teaching, how do they agree with such a dissolved concept of God?

The Bible tells of miracles and the origins of the world

Believers like to argue that science and religion, reason and belief cannot contradict each other because they are assigned to different spheres. It is also said that both areas are orthogonal to each other, which means that one area cannot say anything about the other. It should be noted that science adheres to it, but not belief. For example, the Bible makes statements about the origin of the world and man and claims that Jesus was born of a virgin and later, although already dead, rose again and went to heaven. Faith does indeed make very concrete statements about the world. It can therefore also be contradicted from a worldly point of view, i.e. with scientific arguments. A scientist, on the other hand, will not make any statements about the existence of God or revealed truths of faith. His methods don't work here. He cannot collect any empirical data for this, and consequently cannot formulate any testable hypotheses, nor set up any theories that claim to be valid. At best, he can make plausibility considerations, point out logical contradictions or impossibilities.

People with a broad education sympathize less and less with the idea that it should take human sacrifice to appease an otherworldly being. Even the hell evoked in the creed to this day as a place of eternal torture is difficult to reconcile with a way of thinking that is based on humanistic or human rights principles. Even a fundamentally religious person today no longer wants to believe in miracles, such as the virgin birth or the multiplication of bread and wine, not to mention the resurrection from the dead and the ascension.

Our thinking, which is shaped by modern science and philosophy as well as human rights, is moving more and more away from a religious world that still knows miracles, human sacrifices and eternal, i.e. never-ending punishment. And is the idea of ​​a merciful God who loves people - critically questioned in the famous theodicy - really so convincing in view of the boundless suffering on this earth caused by humans and also nature? In this respect, Stefan Förner's accusation that believers are viewed as "stupid" is not correct. However, they are ignorant and unenlightened about the basis of their beliefs.

Whoever thinks questions things

The acceptance of the Christian, actually any faith seems to me only possible if one subordinates reason to faith and ignores the logical and factual contradictions. Thinking deeply is connected with questioning things. Thinking therefore always also means to doubt with reasons. That is exactly the reason why reason and faith go so badly.

But this is also true: Detached from any scientific theoretical discussion, for many people their personal faith is a source of consolation and hope, even if it lacks any rational justification. This works if the area of ​​faith is kept free from reflective, even doubting considerations, "if reason follows faith and enters into its service," as former Bishop Huber believes.

Professor Uwe Lehnert is the author of the book: "Why I don't want to be a Christian - My path from the Christian faith to a naturalistic-humanistic worldview", Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2015.

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