SCIENCE EDUCATION AND. RELIGIOUS VALUESWritten by: by Abdullah Omar Nasseef :: (View All Articles by: Abdullah Omar Nasseef)
SCIENCE EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS
VALUES: AN ISLAMIC APPROACH
SCIENCE EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS
VALUES: A CHRISTIAN STATEMENT
The two articles in this book were presented in a series of lectures held at the University of Cambridge on Religion and Education: Islamic and Christian Approaches, sponsored by the University of Cambridge and King Abdulaziz University. These three essays appeared first as the Editorial and articles in Muslim Education Quarterly, Vol.1, No.3, Spring Issue, 1984.
Education is a never-ending continuous process. It is a journey from the unknown to the unknown. The only known moments seem to be those that stretch from one's birth to one's death. It is only religion which tells us that we have some prenatal knowledge at birth and that we shall have knowledge of after-life after our death. For Islam the sources of this beyond-the-world knowledge are the Qur'an and the Hadith. The only means of justification is the study of the recorded experiences of great saints. The other means is not objective. It is the subjective experience of an individual. But he can test the validity of his own experience by comparing his own experience with that of other saints and holy men and women. One prior condition must be fulfilled in order to acquire this experience: faith in the Unknown, God.
It is this faith in the Unknown that creates a stumbling block for most of the modern people. The very educational process through which they have passed has grilled them in such a manner that they are ready to believe something as true if the senses and their reason can prove them to be true. Feelings and imagination are always regarded sceptically as something that may mislead us. This rationalism and search for demonstrative proofs indicate the growth of one-sided personality which may even lead to the production of intellectual monsters or sensual brutes. Faith in God cannot be proved through the application of reason or through sense-experience alone. It is a gift from the Lord. It is inherent in man but training and circumstances may either reassert it or create doubts and disturbances. That is why the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said, " Every child is a born Muslim, but his or her parents turn him into a Jew or a Christian or a pagan".
At the First World Conference on Muslim Education modern education was blamed for creating these doubts and disturbances, for secularising the attitudes and for falsely convincing people that scientific method of discovering or verifying `Truth' is the only correct method. Muslim scholars recognised and appreciated the tremendous contribution that the natural sciences have made towards the acquisition of knowledge of the material world but they wanted to differentiate between the theories that helped the scientists to acquire that knowledge and the actual knowledge itself and, very superficially advised Muslim authorities to accept the actual knowledge and ignore such theories as the theory of evolution. It is Christian scientists who have started the campaign against the evolutionists. But creationists have not as yet succeeded in formulating a complete substitute for the theory of evolution. It is here that the Muslim scientists may join hands.
The other approach suggested by Professor Black is the recognition of the autonomy of different kinds of knowledge Religious knowledge and scientific knowledge should not then conflict with each other. But are they completely autonomous? They are not. Each branch of knowledge should have some autonomy but all branches of knowledge should have integral relationship in the context of humanity. Knowledge is for the `good' of mankind. If any kind of knowledge does harm to man it should be discarded. Conflict arises as to the interpre- tation of what is good for man and what is bad for man. Religion calls that knowledge good which makes man morally good, spiritually enlightened and is truly rewarding in the after-life. Modern scientific knowledge is not interested in morality, spirituality and after-life. Pure science is expected to ignore the impact of scientific discoveries or inventions on man in the social and cultural context.
Both Dr. Black and Dr. Nasseef have shown how the scientists, science teachers and educationalists have become aware of the danger that this complete autonomy entails. More than forty years ago Bertrand Russell clearly stated the danger in the chapter on `Science and Values' in his book Impact of Science on Society.
Science like other branches of knowledge should retain its autonomy in trying to discover some truth but it should refrain from using that knowledge or even make it known till its overall impact is gauged and its impact on society correctly assessed. It is religion which provides the correct sense of Judgement. That is why even Bertrand Russell had to go back to religion for the concept of `"Charity". Unfortunately, the West had suffered from judgement by fanatics in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries but there was no such persecution in the world of Islam. As long as the result of scientific theorems are not experimented with and assessed to be of benefit or otherwise, so long that scientific knowledge should not be used.
The above prescription is rather difficult to implement. If the society itself deviates from the path of religion, if the majority in control of society are irreligious, it is not so easy even to suggest this process. Professor Peters, Professor Hirst and their followers and friends have therefore evoked the spirit of Democracy. Let the people decide what is good or bad for them. In Islam principles are laid down in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. People cannot go against them; they cannot pass `Permissive laws' legalising promiscuity. But it is now getting more and more difficult in the West unless the educationalists themselves assert the need for a common code of ethics and spirituality. For the Muslims it is easy. They have not deviated from the set path, nor are they philosophically cruel enough to overthrow the moral code publicly, necessitating the continuous reformulation, adjustments and recreation of ethical codes through the democratic process. But as the Muslim world is a part and parcel of the world to day, the Muslim society has to take into account all that is happening in genetic engineering and other modern scientific achievements. As the Muslim society is still dominated by the religious code of life, as the acceptance of the religious code for all spheres of life is still a basic social assumption, it is possible for the Muslims to use scientific discoveries within the limits of the Islamic code of life, and redirect technology for the benefit of mankind. The greatest problem is the theory of evolution.
Professor Black has rightly pointed out the importance of scientific theories. When such a theory contradicts a religious belief it is necessary for Muslim Scientists to work in cooperation with scientists such as the `Creationists' in America to formulate the whole concept of evolution within the limits set by the revelations. The basic limits set by the Qur'anic revelations are as follows:
1. God is Omnipotent. As Creator He is not governed by the laws and creates at His Will. Imam Ash'ari and Imam Ghazzali restated this principle philosophically by proving the impossibility of establishing the scientific Aristotelian theory of cause and effect. This needs to be re-established.
2. The universe is governed by certain laws and man has been asked by God to know them so that man may rule the universe as a benevolent master .The truths that sciences are discovering are not made by science but by God. We have to learn these laws because God has said that He has made this universe for us.
3. The creation of Adam as the first man, a completely new species, by God has to be believed in as a great mystery. This implies that Adam had not evolved out of a pre-existing species by a process of natural selection. He was a new creation.
4. Adam, peace be on him, was the first Prophet. Muslim thinkers have not
as yet made any investigations. It is necessary for them to go back to such
a Muslim thinker a Ghazzali who had to face similar problems and also study
the conflict between the `Creationists' and the `Evolutionists' and find
out the Islamic solution.
AN ISLAMIC APPROACH
Abdllah Omar Nasseef:
Speaking last year at the Institute of Education, University of London on the "Role of Faith and Islamic Ethics in the teaching of Natural and Applied Sciences," I stressed the following points which I would like to restate first before I enter into a discussion of the present topic. 1 I said that the basic consideration of all educational planners is to determine first what education is for and no one can decide that adequately without having a concept of human nature, its growth and development and the purpose of human existence. I also said that the uniqueness of science education cannot be ignored just as we cannot ignore the uniqueness of literary education or education in social sciences. But the uniqueness and the autonomy of various disciplines do not free them from the overall sovereignty of the final aim of education. Claims for the teaching of "pure science" can be entertained only if this teaching does not ignore the interrelationship of all disciplines and does not make scientists lose the concept of humanity and external nature on which all acquisition and application of knowledge have their deepest impact. The principle of the interrelationship of disciplines is derived from the concept of the total balanced growth of human personality as the aim of education - the aim which was stated at the First World Conference on Muslim Education in the following words: "Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of Man through the training of Man's spirit, intellect, the rational self, feelings and bodily senses. Education should therefore cater for the growth of man in all its aspects: spiritual, intellectual, imaginative, physical, scientific, linguistic both individually and collectively and motivate all these aspects towards goodness and the attainment of perfection." 2 The assumptions about human nature that prompted this definition provide the basic framework for the interrelationship of different disciplines. This interrelationship and these assumptions provide an educationist with a method of translating the nature of science and science teaching into educational goals, and of interpreting them in terms of behavioural descriptions for different educational attainment. I referred to this aspect of science education in general terms in my last lecture. I shall discuss this aspect in greater detail today.
This discussion can become fruitful if we start at first with the religious hypothesis about human nature and its development. As Islam claims to be not a new religion but the final and most complete and comprehensive manifestation of religion, 3 it asserts the basic concept of human nature which believers in other religions share with the Muslims. Like other religions Islam emphasizes the supremacy of the spiritual aspect of human nature which is termed in some religion as its divine aspect or the divinity or Godliness in man. Islam says that man can become the Vicegerent of God on earth by cultivating within himself the characteristics that pertain to this Godliness. The attributes of God provide man with absolute norms of Justice, Knowledge, Charity, Mercy, love and other qualities. These absolutes can be understood by man only because he possesses within himself that faculty which helps him to feel and understand the absolutes and become attracted towards it. The more man cultivates them, the more is he attracted towards them, affected by them and becomes aware of their impact on his whole being. One attribute leads him to another and an internal process is generated that create within him an aversion to lying, cheating, dishonesty, pride, cruelty, injustice, selfishness, backbiting, and greed and such other habits of man which society has always recognised as "evil". Faith generates within man the love of God which automatically generates the love of the "good" and an aversion to the "bad". It is the spiritual faculty in man that brings about that state of consciousness. Man's rational faculty helps him to justify that consciousness or explain to his own self and to the world at large the need for such experience but it is not the generator of that love. Religious values cannot thus be separated from faith and moral action. As religious experience deepens, faith gets stronger and man becomes more and more conscious both of the ever wider and deeper ranges of objective principles and rules based on the absolutes and of the ever subtler and more comprehensive implications of motives, intentions, feelings, stresses, relationships and circumstances. The life and activities of Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, provides him with a comprehensive example of the human realisation of the absolutes and thus a human norm to compare himself with, fall back upon and draw upon for personal and communal assessment and for guidance in his own personal choice. It saves him from the free-wheeling plularism that some educators preach without any grain to get hold of. Because of the present-day condition of the twentieth century, it is all the more necessary to teach definite moral values and not deaden the spiritual faculty. If the aim of education is to make man more and more aware of his nature as a human being and his destiny or goal as a vicegerent of God on the Earth so that he may acquire and use his knowledge for creating a world of peace and happiness, it is necessary for him to learn this wisdom given to him by religion.
Does science education contribute at all to this goal or is it entirely neutral or does it make man uncertain, and skeptical about his nature and destiny and therefore turns him into a pragmatical opportunist? 4
Does science education produce only specialists who are interested only in "pure science" and not in the integral relationship of science-education with education as a whole? 5
How successful is the attempt since the nineteenth century to establish this relationship governed by the notion that only the philosophy of science based on hypotheses and experiments can provide man with a system of concepts and laws within which science, philosophy and the humanities can fit? 6 However justified from a purist's point of view may be the logical, mathematical and syntactic structure of the physical sciences which are being used as paradigm of the exact or deductive sciences, is it not necessary to understand the constraints on these theories imposed by the metaphysical principles of man and the universe inherent in the religious approach to life and to appreciate the role that these religious-cum-metaphysical principles should have in directing scientific inquiry? 7 In what way and to what extent should the science curriculum in schools be designed to include theories? Have biological and physical sciences experience to offer which can foster intellectual and emotional growth compatible with and sustaining the religious approach to life? 8 Are there concepts or methods of teaching the sciences which reinforce rather than reject the religious attitude to Nature and Life, to physical and biological phenomena, to man's emotional needs, intellectual needs and social needs?
It is obvious that these questions assume the importance of the spiritual dimension of man's personality and the individually and socially beneficial aspect of the implicit recognition of the dominance of human spirit and hence of faith and ethical principles based on faith. Because of the historical example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, and the highly emotionally, intellectually and socially beneficial impact of his personality and hence of Islam on the entire world, Muslims of the world have never asked for any more justification. As the concept of the good man that Islam states only reinforces and reestablishes the long-established tradition of humanity to which human nature responds favourably, I do not have to justify here the effectiveness and value of those assumptions. Nor do I intend to lead the discussion into the philosophy of the aims and objectives of education. 9 I have asked the above questions not to generate discussion about the aims of education but to find out how far education in science fulfil the purpose of education stated earlier.
If the growth of man as the Vicegerent of God on earth is the essence of human existence, if education has to help man in trying to achieve that end, it is obvious that man needs knowledge of the world and all creatures and he must understand how he can use this knowledge for the betterment of man, society, the environment and the universe. Science is that branch of knowledge which investigates into the physical and biological world. It is a speculative enterprise. It develops a series of interconnected concepts which result in conceptual schemes that lead man through observation and experimentation into deeper and wider knowledge of physical reality. It is both creative and critical. It is creative in so far as the scientist gets ideas almost intuitively and tries to test his ideas or hypotheses through experiments and observation. At the same time it builds upon existing theories a structure which it does not overthrow without testing its validity from a new premise. The history of science indicates the growth of these ideas and structures through the ages. This development has become accelerated in the last three hundred years and the concept of a mechanistic universe has been replaced by the concept of an evolutionary world which has got further transformed into a world of relative certainty. 10 Though it may be considered very difficult to establish a school curriculum on theories which may be proved to be false or which may require modification at a later stage, I think it is desirable, more appropriate and truthful to create in students the attitude that all theories may be refutable. This attitude will not create in students an antipathy to the concept of creation' and an unfailing devotion to the concept of `evolution'. The conflict between the scientific attitude to `natural evolution' and the religious concept of `creation' by God and manifestation of God's will, power and qualities through this creation was generated in the
It is this idea of purpose in `the creation' that the scientists cannot find out by the means employed by them. It is here that the second cause of trouble must be sought. Nature appears to have its own laws but science nevers considers that man and his joys and miseries have any thing to do with Nature Religion teaches us that man is the master of the universe and that God's attributes of creation, destruction, preservation and maintenance of life - all these are manifested through creation. If we believe that God has created earth for man, then we have to believe and find out how that love operates on this earth. Modern science does not want to speak of the Will of God or the attributes of God. It avoids discussing the `creation' of the universe and posits several hypotheses about its origin and operation. Thus the moral principles that religion finds operative in the creation, maintenance, sustenance, growth and decay of the universe - the principles of love, creation and destruction, justice and injustice, intimately manifested in birth, growth and death of life on this earth - are completely ignored by science. But it cannot avoid metaphysics, and instead of the religious principles, it posits its own ideas. Such a principle is the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest - a principle that makes the principle of selfishness and cruelty the operative principle in Nature. Thus the values that religious knowledge teaches pupils as operative in the universe are forgotten or opposed by the education in the Sciences. Students come to believe that neither in human nature nor in external nature are there ingrained the basic spiritual principles. There are certain non-moral physical or biological laws. Similarly they also learn that Nature and human beings are living without any mutual relationship and understanding. Religion teaches us that the universe, in fact the entire creation, is for man and God wants man to behave as His representative on Earth. Nature is not a blind force evolving mindlessly on its own irrespective of whatever may happen to man and man must go on having confrontation with Nature. We are also taught that Natural calamities are not just the result of blind forces operating without any idea of what may happen to man. But they are manifestation of God's warnings to man. Otherwise we shall have to believe that man is living in a strange world where there is no justice. It is this feeling that science education generates because it eliminates the religious concept. As a result the attitude that is built up is one of enmity and confrontation rather than of love, understanding and justice. It is this attitude that led many governments to ruin environment. Only recently it has dawned on scientists and technologists that destroying natural environment right and left does harm to human beings, that God has set a pattern in this creation which is good for man. Man has to use it carefully and control and guide it and not ruin it. Scientists and technologists have to learn from religion the purpose of existence and the relationship between external nature and man and organise their activity accordingly. The authors of the science curricula should develop courses around this central theme of an inherent good relationship between man and Nature. Only from religion can the scientist get the concept of a purpose which he can verify.
The other crucial problem is the control of science. Dickson has very correctly pointed out that "as a result of current educational policy, as well as the organisation and control of scientific activity, science is facing a growing number of problems. These include the increasing number of detrimental effects which scientific and technological developments appear to behaving on society; the growing use of science and technology to strengthen the position of economic, industrial or political power elites; the unemployment caused by automation and the introduction of high-capital, rather than labour-intensive technologies; the export to developing countries of technologies totally inappropriate to their economic and social environment; the disproportionate weight of the industrial sector in the selection of priorities in scientific research; and the inability of science to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems such as mass poverty and over-population". (Dickson, D. BSSRS literature, 1971). Dickson suggests that as a remedy three types of consciousness should be integrated into science education: Social consciousness incorporating an awareness of the relationships between science and community; evironmental consciousness concerned with the impact of sciences on the natural environment and ecological systems, and global consciousness introducing an awareness of the problems of world development, the situation faced by the world's under-developed countries, and the part played by science and technology in creating problems. 12 I agree with Dickson but he forgot the fourth type of consciousness that is central to these three types of consciousness - religious consciousness. The three main topic areas - mainly science and the community, science and the environment and science and world development - cannot be developed happily unless the attitude required by man towards the community, environment and world as a whole is properly developed. And this can be developed successfully through religious consciousness - a consciousness of man's inherent responsibility towards community, environment and the world as a whole. 13 All these three areas have to studied concurrently as integrated parts of the science curriculum but religious consciousness alone can instil into these studies an approach to society, environment and the world which is beneficial for mankind. It is from religion that educational planners must learn how the knowledge that science imparts should be organised so that man may acquire power for the benefit and peace and happiness of mankind, how man can grow up and behave as the Vicegerent of God on Earth.
Whatever I have said implies that though theories formulated by scientists
cannot be ignored in framing the science curricula for schools and in programming
science research the teaching of scientific theories and planning of science
activities must be subservient to the overall question: how far do they
contribute to the fulfilment of the purpose of human existence? This may
slow down the speed with which science is progressing. If that is so, let
it be. In the last analysis the goal of science teaching and science activity
including technology must be moral goal, as I have stated at the very outset.
Where science touches upon peoples lives, values pertain. And no scientist
can say that its findings and activities do not touch human life in some
form or other. Society cannot be without values and Islam provides mankind
with the highest concept of man as God's Vicegerent on Earth. Therefore science
education has to be geared to this system and must draw upon such a central
scheme of values. Where there is a confusion of values, scientists will work
at cross purposes. The great disparity that we notice today between technological
achievement on the one hand and ethical behaviour on the other can only be
removed if science education is controlled and directed towards findings
and activity ultimately beneficial for mankind and for his environment. Only
then can this education help us to strike a balance between intellectual
activity and moral progress and we can become fully conscious of the fact
that the scientists must not in their absorption with the means, forget the
ends and make man forget what all the gadgets are for. Only then can science
education become true education.
SCIENCE EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS VALUES:
A CHRISTIAN STATEMENT
Paul J Black
This paper attempts to chart the landscape rather than to present a particular argument. In order to do this, it discusses three main areas in three separate sections. The first reviews some of the main issues currently debated in science education itself. A second section discusses the relationships between science and religion in terms of assumptions about the nature of science and about a Christian perspective on revealed and natural knowledge. The third and final section discusses the main topic, of science and religion in education, in the light of the preceding analysis.
The aims and scope of science education are subject to searching re-appraisal at present. Fundamental disagreements on this issue marked the first emergence of science as a regular part of the school curriculum a century ago. Layton 1 has described how a struggle developed between a science of common things, in which teaching started from everyday objects, and a high academic science working logically but abstractly from fundamental principles. The latter prevailed and has held sway until recently.
The "high academic science was always too demanding. This dilemma was resolved by reducing much of the examining to demands for memorised material. Thus schools and examining authorities cultivated an accommodation between a syllabus with an acceptable number of abstract principles and an examining system that could pass enough of the pupils by requiring rather little understanding of these principles except at the highest grades.
A curriculum reform movement started about twenty-five years ago with the aim of breaking this pattern. it has achieved partial success, in that there has been a shift to emphasising the need for understanding on a narrower range of material. The changes also laid more emphasis on the practical application of scientific principles. However, they reinforced rather than weakened the assumption that the concern of science education with the methods and principles of pure science was its outstanding, almost exclusive, business. The science curriculum thus retained several features which had been taken for granted by most teachers, whether in schools or universities, for a very, long time. The science presented was devoid of philosophical connections - its assumptions were obvious. It was also independent of any considerations of historical or cultural context, apart from snippets of such spurious history as the story of Galileo and the leaning tower of Pisa 2.
Technological and social circumstances were largely ignored - the devices that have transformed society were presented for their power to impress pupils with the application of the principles and not in relation to their effects on man's life. Shorn of origins or consequences, the work of scientists was presented as value-free, or rather as a value in itself. The fact that this last lesson was conveyed in default of argument did not diminish its power.
It is now widely accepted that in at least some respects this narrow definition of the arena of science education must be altered. However, this pressure to change is one aspect of a more general upheaval affecting the science curriculum. One cause for this upheaval is the need to define a science curriculum appropriate for the average school pupil. The traditional curricula for public examinations were never suitable for more than the top 20% to 30% of the ability range, and attempts to dilute them to serve a much broader range have, by their inadequacy, made the need for a very different approach, more evident. One reason for this has become clearer by research into children's cognitive development and their learning of particular scientific concepts 3 . 4. This work shows both that many abstract ideas may have been presented to young pupils at far too early a stage in their development and that pupils have their own robust everyday explanations of much of the evidence which science teaching tries to use to convince them of its principles. These features may lead us back to the need for a science of common things, expecting less in depth of understanding and dealing more with simplified discussions of a wider range of everyday phenomena and artefacts.
A different trend has arisen from those interested in giving more emphasis to the processes of science. Part of the argument for each emphasis is that at least some of these processes will be of direct value to the average citizen after partidular facts and concepts have been forgotten. The definition of the processes and their expression in appropriate activities and assessment methods focusses attention on science as a body of methodology, and opens this up to discussion and evaluation 5 . 6.
The broader approach to the definition of the school science curriculum can be illustrated by the Policy Statement published in 1981 by the Association for Science Education, the professional association of school science teachers in Great Britain 7 . The statement argues that teachers planning and developing the science curriculum "should note that science can be explored from the viewpoint of science as an intellectual discipline, science as a cultural activity, and science and its applications to work, citizenship, leisure and survival. It goes on to set out six main aims for science education as follows:
(i) The acquisition of a knowledge and understanding of a range of scientific concepts, generalizations, principles and laws through the systematic study and experience of aspects of the body of knowledge called science.
(ii) The acquisition of a range of cognitive and psychomotor skills and processes as a result of direct involvement in scientific activities and procedures in the laboratory and the field.
(iii) The utilization of scientific knowledge and processes in the pursuit of further knowledge and deeper understanding, and the development of an ability to function autonomously in an area of science studies to solve practical problems and to communicate that experience to others.
(iv) The attainment of a perspective or way of looking at the world together with some understanding of how it complements and contrasts with other perspectives or ways of organizing knowledge and inquiry.
(v) The attainment of a basic understanding of the nature of advanced technological societies, the interaction between science and society, and the contribution science makes to our cultural heritage.
(vi) The realization that scientific knowledge and experience is of some value in the process of establishing a sense of personal and social identity."
These aims do not reflect present practice, and their implementation will require substantial change.
One set of changes is already directed towards these aims. Two curriculum projects have recently published materials under the titles "Science in Society" and "Science in a Social Context" respectively. Both are designed as optional minority studies for pupils in the sixth form (ages 16-18), this being an area where it is most easy to insert and experiment with a new type of course. "Science in society 8 has main units on health and Medicine, Population, Food and Agriculture, Energy, Mineral Resources, Industry and Economy, Land and Water, Shaping the Future, and Facts. It has been welcomed and used in many schools, but it has also been criticised by some who think it concentrates too much on the industrial economy and takes too many of the values of that economy for granted. "Science in a Social Context" 9 has units entitled: Ways of Living, How Can we be Sure?, Technology, Invention and Industry, Evolution, The Atomic Bomb, Energy, Health, Food and Population, and Space Cosmology and Fantasy. It thus covers a broader range of issues than its rival. These new course materials are the most tangible evidence of the movement to broaden the definition of the science curriculum. They have their counterparts in higher education - "Science in a Social Context" developed directly from a tertiary sector project of the same name. They serve to underlithe main theme of the brief survey in this section - that the nature of science education is now open to debate. Although this debate is hardly concerned at all with religious values, its outcomes may help to establish with pupils and students that the status and effects of the work of science are serious issues with which scientists amongst others must grapple but which science as such cannot resolve.
Science and Religion
The history of the relations between science and Christianity appears to be a history of conflict. In the famous battles, over Galileo and over Evoliltion, Christianity was the eventual loser. Religious thought appears to have retreated as a result. Some see the retreat continuing apace as biochemistry sociobiology and psychology take over the role of understanding who man is and how he lives. Christianity may still fill some churches, but sociology may eventually empty them.
Two results follow from this account in terms of a retreat. Whether or not it be a true and fair one, its hold on many shows that we live with wounds that have never properly healed. It also shows science as the successful invader. In order to develop an understanding of this situation, the discussion below starts by discussing the achievements and assumptions of science before returning to the position of a Christian in reconciling his beliefs with a recognition of the success of science.
The achievements of science are evident. Many scientists feel that these successes follow directly from its reliance on rationality and empirical test. Theories are invented to be sure, but they are tested and abandoned or adapted in the light of evidence. Also, only that knowledge which can be communicated and defended in public, and which can be repeated by others, is allowed to count 10 . The methods and results are open to all, and the community of scientists is an international one, transcending and helping to overcome cultural barriers to understanding and friendship. Above all, the success of science is shown by man's overwhelming success in using its results to conquer nature and to create artefacts which have revolutionised and continue to revolutionise man's life. Whilst much of the above cannot be challenged, it is important to supplement it by drawing attention to several features of the activity of scientists. Firstly, however its activity might be described, science is certainly not a simple recipe of following evidence using organised common sense. Indeed, it can be argued that the achievements which mark the beginning of modern science came about because the mediaeval habit of following the evidence too closely was abandoned in favour of a more bold approach trusting abstractions to guide control of and selection and extrapolation from the evidence to be considered. As Galileo himself put it "Reason hath committed such a rape upon the senses as, in despite thereof
This theme has been echoed many times since then. Whitehead puts it most clearly "The utmost abstractions are the true weapons with which to control our thought of concrete fact". 12
and more recent events show the link of abstract theory to technological outcome thus:-
"Ground Control to Apollo 8: "Who is driving up there?"
Apollo 8 to Ground Control: "I think Isaac Newton is doing most of the driving right now". 13
Secondly, science is a product of a particular phase of the Christian culture of Western Europe. Whether or not this particular cultural context was essential to its emergence, two beliefs which that context supplied were surely essential to its growth. The first was a belief in the rationality and intelligibility of the natural universe: it is pointless to look for order in events which are controlled by the arbitrary interference of the gods. The second was a belief in the contingent or non-necessary character of the laws of the natural universe. If ideal forms control events, then hard thought will discern their a priority nature and the attempt to refine theory by relentless dialogue with nature's evidence is pointless. This view is set out in Mascall's book 20 : he argues that neither Indian religion nor Greek philosophy could have provided cradle for the growth of science.
The third comment is that the grounds for belief in scientific theories are only remotely empirical. It is rarely the case that a theory of consequence can be falsified by a particular piece of evidence. For the most basic principles, based as they are on their power to make sense of large bodies of evidence, it is hardly possible to imagine evidence that would lead to their downfall. Thus, apparent contradiction of the Principle of Conservation of Energy would have to build up over a long period before any one piece were to lead to more than a reinterpretation of the evidence. Those who study the actual judgements of scientists are now revealing how complex and varied are the factors that determine their choice and use of evidence, and that lead to the neglect of some results and the revolutionary impact of others 14 , 15 , 16 . Such studies show, amongst other features, the importance of intuition, of criteria of elegance and simplicity, and of the role of theory in guiding the selection and perception of evidence.
The fourth comment is a special extension of the third. The most general theories of all are those which can hardly be challenged at all without changing the epistemology of science in a fundamental way. These therefore are metaphysical assumptions rather than empirical theories. They include such assumptions as: that the future can be explained in terms of the past, that the whole can be explained solely in terms of the properties of its parts, and that nature is rational and regular but not teleological in its behaviour.
Thus, although it works, science presents its peculiar array of metaphysical and philosophical problems. It is significant that these seem to intensify rather than diminish with the recent progress of science. That shock administered to naive scientists, by the realization that matter refused to behave neatly according to either of their alternative wave or particle models for it, was the first of a series. Indeed, each of the assumptions picked out in the fourth comment is the subject of current debate: the theories of black holes are doing violence to our notion of temporal and casual sequences 17 , whilst the complex orchestration of cells has stimulated again debates about both reductionism and teleology in biology 18. 19. Science does not have a simple, explicit and non-problematic method, and it cannot be sure at any stage that its methods are optimally chosen, or even that it is not driving up an expensive blind alley.
Finally, there are quite different considerations from the above which have had a profound impact on scientists. Through their responsibility for the atomic bomb and for some of the ecological disasters and pressures which threaten man's home, scientists now face appalling moral responsibilities. The evasion which separates the responsibility for use from that for invention and development is no longer defensible - if indeed it ever was.
There is however not one. but a spectrum of types of problem. At one extreme.
the result of a wholly new experiment may lead to uncontrollable and damaging consequences: the first atomic pile to go critical could have raised such fears had it not been for the secrecy of war. The developing work in genetic engineering has done so, and the scientists in Boston who had to (literally) take a stall in the market place to explain themselves directly to the public in order to secure permission of local politicians for their experiments will have realised their social responsibility in a new way. But cases can differ by many gradations from this extreme, until one reaches a case such as the development of the transistor. That this was done with an eye to new electronic technology is undoubted. However it is hardly possible to imagine that the subsequent development of the social revolution now being caused by the microprocessor con have been weighed in the balance of an argument about whether to proceed with or suppress the work. Apart from adding the dimension of complex moral choices to the scientist's work, these features also affect the status of scientific activity. That it cannot explain itself easily to the public who are concerned about even allowing it to continue to exist is one problem that may not be seen as fundamental. That it cannot predict all the developments, whether of further scientific principle or of experimental consequence or of technological potential, that may follow from
The scientific method succeeds by limiting sharply the context and conditions of its field by enquiry, often by realising these constraints in artifical "experimental" conditions which in many cases have never occurred in nature. These conditions and the contingent provisional nature of its theories, are both essential to its nature and yet lead inevitably to a lack of control or sure prediction of consequences. This point is important because if it has been correctly argued, it shows that there is no way to prevent harmful consequences except to suppress science. The risks and the dilemmas are a price that must be paid for engaging in the venture at all.
A Christian Response
The Christian sees his own history and that of the Christian Church as a struggle to discern the deeper meaning of God's revelation. This revelation is contained both in the world, and in Christ as present through scripture, through the tradition of the Christian Church and through the body of its members. Correctly discerned, this revelation gives access to ultimate explanations of our destiny and that of our universe.
Mistakes have occurred because of a natural tendency to exaggerate the scope or meaning of any one particular part of revelation. By a law analogous to Parkinson's, religious explanation expands to fill the cultural space available, and ultimate explanations are pressed into service to account for the immediate. When expanding secular thought reaches an annexed territory a war many ensue. A priority, it cannot be said that either is the legitimate occupant. But with hindsight, it may be the case that religion has been displaced from a region which it had only occupied by default and not by title.
For example, Galileo's theories were attacked by quoting the incident in the book of Joshua where the sun stood still -if it were perpetually at rest, it was argued, that scriptural account would be in error. Galileo replied that the scripture at this point was to be taken figuratively not literally, that the scriptures were not given to man to teach him the science of nature and that, since truth cannot conflict with itself, we would do better to pursue the truth in science and be confident that contradictions would turn out to be apparent and not real (see reference 11). These answers did not receive the response they deserved.
The outcome of such lost battles is not without benefit to religion: indeed, if Galileo's third defence could have been taken to heart (by Bishop Wilberforce amongst others) the tension could have been creative. When he "loses" occupied territory, the Christian is forced to look again at the meaning of revelation and can thereby purify his interpretation of it.
The Christian view that has emerged from the tensions is closely related to a view of God's grace and man's free will. The world belongs to man and he has been given freedom and responsibility to understand and control it. The Christian religion does not provide a way to throw that responsibility back on God, or a set of short cuts to achieve the knowledge and control by which we can realise our destiny. That revelation can guide our ultimate ends and so guide the immediate aims and limits on the work of science is clear, but the boundary between ultimate and immediate is itself an aspect of revelation which we must struggle to discern.
It follows first that there are no cheap or easy ways to resolve the tensions between science and religion. Religion can neither dominate science nor be subject to it. Neither should religious faith use science to "prove" its position, for these "proofs" have to be argued at the metaphysical level, where science is busily engaged in clarifying and justifying its own assumptions. Mascall presents an effective analysis of misguided attempts to show that the "big bang" of scientific cosmology can be "proof " of the Christian belief in God as Creator 20. The more recent attempts to align modern physics with eastern mysticism seem to commit a similar error 21 . 22.
Rather must religious faith concede the autonomy of science, and look to profit from interaction with it at all levels, metaphysical, methodolo
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|Title:||SCIENCE EDUCATION AND. RELIGIOUS VALUES|
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