Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship? HTML version
The Galileo affair was really an argument about whether models should be allowed to change without the
Church's consent. Those in positions of authority often deem acceptance of their beliefs, and with that the
acceptance of their role as arbiters of beliefs, to be more important than the potentia l benefits of moving
on to a better model (8).
Typically, new models do not render old ones useless, they simply c ircumscribe the ir doma ins of validity,
unve iling and accounting for altogether new phenomena that lie beyond the scope of the old mode ls.
Thus, relativity and quantum theory do not render Newton's laws of motion obsolete. NASA has no need
for the refinements of quantum or relativistic mechanics in calculating the flight paths of space vehicles.
The accuracy afforded by Newton's laws suffices for its purposes.
Some think that truths that aren't absolute and immutable disqualify themselves as truths. But just because
mode ls change doesn't mean that anything goes. At any given time, what "goes" is precisely the most
accurate model we've got. One simply has to be alert to the fact that our current model may be superseded
by an even better one tomorrow (9). It's precisely this built-in skepticism that gives science its power.
Most scientists are excited when they find a persistent discrepancy between their latest model and
empirical data. They know that such deviations signal the existence of hitherto unknown realms in which
new phenomena may be discovered. The presumption that nature models are infallible has been replaced
with the humbling expectation that their common destiny is to be replaced by more comprehensive and
accurate ones (10).
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, many physic ists believed they'd learned all there was to know
about the workings of the universe. The consensus was that between Newton's dynamics and Maxwell's
electromagnetism we had everything covered. Prominent scientists solemnly announced the end of
There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more
– Lord Kelvin (1900)
Then a few tiny discrepancies between theory and experiment were noted and as scientists explored them ,
they came upon the previously hidden realm of atomic and relativistic physics, and with it technologies
that have put their stamp on the twentieth century.
Albert Einstein be lieved that the final resting place of every theory is as a special case of a broader one.
Indeed, he spent the last decades of his life searching for a unified theory that would have transcended the
discoveries he made as a young man. The quest for such a grand unifying theory goes on.
The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
– Albert Einstein
With the idea of god, early humans were imagining someone or something who knows, who understands,
who can expla in things well enough to build them. Now then, if God knows, then maybe , just maybe, we
can learn to do what He does. That is, we too can build mode ls of how things work and use them for our