A Review of the Religion and Science Forum in NYC
By Cheryl Petersen
Religion and science have endured a rocky relationship over the centuries. However, this lastJune 5
, proponents of religion and science formed a panel for discussion at the World ScienceFestival in NYC. Bill Blakemore, a News Reporter for ABC, moderated the forum at NYU¶sRosenthal Pavilion. A large audience filled the auditorium. After 2 hours of enquiry andresponse, I began my 5 hour return trek home and contemplated a fact agreed upon by the panelmembers; religion and science are modes of perceptions, not means of conflict.It is always unfortunate when those involved in a relationship stop working together and startdenying one another. Whereas, these panel members showed that religion and science cancooperate with one another. Religious advocate, Elaine Pagels, whose works have changed thehistorical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Church as aunified movement, pointed out the usefulness of avoiding certainties. Dogma and theories are notcertain.A question came from the audience, How does bowing down to some god ever advancehumanity¶s progress? Paul Davies, Cosmologist and Astrobiologist, was the panel member whoanswered. Although not a religious person, Davies admitted deep respect for one of hiscolleagues, a practicing Jew. ³She is a brilliant scientist,´ Davies remarked. Her spiritual practices were recognized as a choice of discipline that obviously gave her intellectualinspiration.Fransisco Ayala, a biological scientist, and an ordained priest, noted there is more to life thanscience. The moral, ethical, and transcending matters also concern the welfare of humanity. Inthe relationship of religion and science, each has a unique place. Science encourages thedismissal of superstition. Religion is a means by which a spiritual dimension can be explored.They offend each other less when they don¶t claim to be something they are not.Thupten Jinpa, a principal English translator to the Dalai Lama, also spoke with scientificeloquence. Jinpa, a practicing Buddhist, was asked why the Dalai Lama sent monks to the USAto participate in research involving brain-imaging. His response, in essence, affirmed his faithand confidence in contemplative disciplines, especially Buddhism, and also recognized the valueof engaging science because the scientific worldview is influential. Brain scans did reveal the brains of monks, with incredible numbers of hours of meditation under their belts, produced powerful gamma activity. It was also noted that meditation had altered the structure and functionof their brains. Will science pinpoint spiritual experiences, commonly felt by religionists?It is a step-by-step process and we can be patient with one another. From the 21
Centuryrevision of Mary Baker Eddy¶s
Science and Health,
³For centuries²yes, always²naturalscience has not really been considered a part of any religion, Christianity not an exception. Evennow many people consider science to have no proper connection with faith and spirituality.However, mystery does not insulate Christ¶s teachings. Truth¶s instructions are not theoreticaland fragmentary, but are predisposed to the scientific method, are practical, and complete; and being practical and complete, they are not deprived of their essential vitality.´With this all said and done, I think back on what has been recorded about Christ Jesus.Admittedly, there wasn¶t the science fervor going on as we know it today, however, Jesusevidently had no problem with practicing scientists. Christ called on Luke, a professional doctor,to be one of his disciples, Luke followedcooperative teamwork.