"Religion" is a broad topic

Harvey E. Ballard, Jr. ballardh at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Sep 30 10:02:47 CDT 1997

At the risk of uttering the obvious, I'll also throw my own "two=
 cents-worth" in--which at the going U.S. exchange rate is worth 0.75 cents=
 anywhere else!

A problem not yet mentioned explicitly in the thread of Creation Science vs.=
 Science-based Evolution is the problem stemming from literal=
 interpretations of biblical texts (in this instance I refer to=
 Christianity).  A historical, non-literal perspective on biblical=
 teachings, in which the moral precepts are taken but exact details are not=
 taken literally, allows plenty of latitude for permitting Evolution to=
 cohabit one's world-view alongside Christianity.  When one forces a literal=
 interpretation of details from biblical text, one runs into all sorts of=
 problems--only ONE of which is the requirement of inferring a 6,000-year=
 birthdate for the earth.  Folks who enforce such a literal interpretation=
 usually do so without assuming other equally stringent precepts for their=
 own lives; scrutiny of the Book of Leviticus is enlightening, in which men=
 must  not shave, women who menstruate must not be allowed to touch=
 anything, and all who sin (however small) should make a burnt offering. =
 Even polyester-cotton blends are forbidden!  I've yet to meet someone who=
 was actually living in strict accordance with a literal interpretation of=
 the complete biblical text; more often than not, folks who have professed=
 to this as the "only way" in which to understand Christianity and to be=
 accepted as a "real" Christian have specifically used a literal=
 interpretation as a weapon to fend off others from the right to claim=
 Christianity for themselves.  So, again, my own perspective is that a=
 LITERAL interpretation of cosmogony/cosmology is a large part of the=
 perceived conflict between Religion and Evolution--not the religious=
 teachings or the general religious mores encouraged by a particular=
 established religion.

A second point that I see, is that we are making too broad a sweep using the=
 term "Religion" in reference to conflicts with "Science", or in this=
 particular case, Evolutionary theory and the scientific observations=
 accumulated to support and elaborate on it.  I've not encountered any=
 conflict in the chapter of the Tao Te Ching that I read each morning before=
 I go to work.  My limited readings on several other major world religions,=
 especially "Eastern" ones have yielded no specific conflicts either.  My=
 comments above on a historical and generalized rather than literal=
 interpretation of (the King James version of) the Bible for Christianity=
 also allows latitude.  We can draw the fence around such espoused conflicts=
 considerably more tightly than "Religion vs. Science". =20

We can even move the pointer a bit and ask if the question isn't a bit=
 closer to one's arriving at a "comfortable"--or at least acceptable--dual=
 acceptance of "Spirituality" [which ought to transcend religion, yes?] and=
 "Science".  While many have used organized religious movements or=
 particular denominations to pursue a spiritual basis of living, it's by no=
 means the only successful means.  Neither are a spiritual basis for living=
 and a scientific perspective on Life's "natural" and physical" laws in=
 conflict--unless one demands that they be!

I find discussions and sharing on the broader context of the meaning of=
 Science and Religion or Spirituality in our lives very useful and very=
 enjoyable; I've particularly been enjoying hearing perspectives from=
 non-American scientists!

Harvey Ballard



Harvey E. Ballard, Jr., Assistant Professor

Department of Environmental and Plant Biology

Porter Hall

Ohio University

Athens, OH 45701

(614) 593-4659 (office & lab phone)

(614) 593-1130 (fax)

<bold>NOTE: After 7 November, area code =3D 740

</bold>email: ballardh at ohiou.edu

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