We Need Both
Science and faith are not mutually exclusive.
Science, in its discovery and experimentation, seeks to replicate sequences of events so rules can be made about life. Faith, in its journey, seeks to make some sense out of the intricacies and anomalies so individuals’ experiences are affirmed.
I don’t mean to put down one over the other, or to say one is more necessary than the other. We need both.
We need to be able to have generalizations made about things that are similar; we need to allow for exceptions to rules when things can’t be categorized.
It seems to me that our cultural experience makes room, or doesn’t, based on what is seen as valuable and worthwhile. Culture is what binds us together – it’s what gives validity to artistic expression, and names values that are held commonly. In more recent years, western culture has said that individualism is good, but individual experience is not credible. So, we have people who pursue their own interests, but may not care about the interests of others – that is individualism. We also have those who experience things a certain way and are either given credit for their experience because there is enough of a group around to validate and vouch for their experience, or are discredited because there is enough of a group to discount them.
In western culture, where more recently there has been a movement to dismiss faith, science has been set up as an ‘alternative’ to participating in faith community. I think we need to reexamine what faith is about. As I understand it, it has to do with trust. (Some have said it has to do with believing out-dated and unsubstantiated dogma; that is a narrow view of it, based on others’ views which are equally narrow.) We all trust something. We all base our trust on our individual experiences. And yet, we must come together on certain matters of trust. Science, obviously, is one of those places where we can come together – so we are all indebted to the scientific method.
In matters of faith, we can not simply dismiss peoples’ experience – based on their interpretation of texts, or profound moment in nature or community, or what-have-you – because their experience is not mine, or yours, or any other individual’s. Faith traditions of the world, in their best forms, allow for those individual moments of experience within a broader understanding of an inter-connectedness of people.
It’s the end of a year, and we celebrate the beginning of another year shortly. This experience may bring up feelings of despair – based on regrets of the past – or feelings of hope – based on expectations of the future. In it all, we’re connected! We have a common earth and a common humanity in which we live.