To end the first class meeting of our two-hour Creation/Evolution Seminar, Dr. Metz closed with the comment, "As far as my opinion is concerned, I have not come to a conclusion on the matter. I am waiting for more evidence to come in." As a fellow student of science, I respect this opinion and regard it as educated. However, the fact that Dr. Metz is a Christian was re-iterated throughout class and, so far as I could assert, that opinion was never supported by any factual evidence. Now, I say this not to call out Dr. Metz, but to ask a bigger question:
I recognize that science and religion are quite different, but I wonder how they are different exactly. On page 8 of our book Creation vs. Evolution: An Introduction, the author Eugenie Scott writes, "Science is quintessentially an open-ended procedure in which ideas are constantly tested, and rejected or modified. Dogma - an idea held by belief or faith - is anathema to science." Although dogma is not religion, they can and often do go together. Rather than test, reject or modify religious teachings some believers accept them through faith and refuse to subject their faith to reason.
If we subject our knowledge of the natural world to absolute scrutiny through the scientific process, what is the standard to which the spiritual world is held accountable?
That said, where is the middle ground? How can we apply the scientific method to questions about the meaning of life, life after death or the existence of heaven and hell? With no evidence supporting (confirming) these ideas or rejecting (unconfirming) them, some scientists believe there is life after death, a heaven and hell and meaning to life provided by God while others (completely justified) believe in none of it. Is this un-testable disagreement the middle ground? Can the two ever come together on similar terms?
It is my hope to better answer these questions throughout our seminar this semester but I think, like Dr. Metz, I might come out in the end wanting for more evidence. Ironically, I might come to the same conclusion as one scientist in the book:
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."