We all know that science and religion can often be at odds with each other. Some examples include Evolution vs creation, DNA and the Book of Mormon; the list could be endless. In a recent comment, Book1830 makes the claim that Science and Religion (he refers to them as Scholarship and Apologetics) are at odds with each other. His summarized comments are below:
Science and Religion are opposed:
- We should have a discussion sometime about Scholarship and Apologetics. (and how never the twain shall meet)
- Apologetics: Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position, system or institution.
- Scholarship: Knowledge resulting from study and research in a particular field.
- These two ideas are actually opposed to each other. One draws on the information to form the knowledge, the other defends the idea, often formed before the defender was ever born. When I typed these two words side by side into Google. I found that of the top 10 websites that came up. Six were Mormon.
While I agree that there can be some tension, I think that there can be a middle ground, and I am going to propose that apologetics and scholarship can influence each other. We are all familiar with common examples of scholarship affecting apologetics: Columbus proving the world is not flat, Galileo proving that the sun is the center of the universe and not the earth, but few scientists will talk about how apologetics can influence scholarship.
I wanted to provide some formal definitions for these two terms. Here’s what I found from the dictionary.com website, and it pretty much agrees with Book1830’s definitions, although I wanted to add the theology part to the definition.
n. (used with a sing. verb)
|1.||learning; knowledge acquired by study; the academic attainments of a scholar.|
Here are some recent examples of how apologetics has influenced scholarship.
Sodom and Gomorrah.
Many scientists have claimed that the story in Genesis of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are a complete myth. The story of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt seems to support this mythical story. There is no evidence that the cities exist near the Dead Sea, and the story of God destroying the city by fire and brimstone seems very mythical.
However, some scientists in Jordan have found “five cities of the plain” on the eastern edge of the Dead Sea in what is now the country of Jordan. There is an episode of Digging For the Truth which explores this claim. While there are 3 different theories claiming to know where these lost cities of the plain are, the most compelling site is in this episode. So, it seems apologetics is debunking the myths
Outside of the Bible, there has been no evidence that King David (the one who killed Goliath) existed, prompting some scholars to question the historicity of David. However in 1993, the Tel Dan Stele was found, where an Assyrian claims to have defeated “the House of David.” This is the first non-biblical reference to David, and though it is an indirect reference, it seems to lend some credibility to the Bible. More information can be found in this episode of Mysteries of the Bible.
I could list other references, but I’ll stop here. While I agree with Book1830’s contention that religion and science can conflict, I think that they can come to accomodations of each other’s point of view. Comments?