I am well aware that major scientific discoveries have been made by people who profess to be Christians (Letter from Ian Maxfield, 15 May). His examples all come from a time when hardly anyone was irreligious and professing faith was necessary for continued employment.
Scientists compartmentalise their lives so that their science does not conflict with their spiritual dimension (it still happens).
However, this does not change the fact that the precepts of religion are in conflict with those of science. Religion believes in absolute truth; science does not. To the religious the world/universe was divinely created; to science it is a natural emergent phenomenon. To the religious, God intervenes in our lives and performs miracles; scientists reject miracles and accept only natural laws.
In short, religion cannot be reconciled with science. Science has given us our highly technological civilisation; religion has given us nothing but superstition and conflict, lately exemplified by IS in Syria and Iraq who would take us back to the Middle Ages.
Ian Maxfield tries to prove that science and religion are compatible by citing a number of scientists who were also Christians. He is cherry-picking his data.
A poll in 1998 of America’s top scientists – those elected to the National Academy of Sciences – found that only 7 per cent believed in God, while 72 per cent were atheist. Why does Mr Maxfield not mention them?
Science advances because it asks questions, is ready to doubt even what it thinks it knows. Religion does not welcome this attitude. Truth is handed down from those who say they have insight – and the doubter is told to think less and go with his feelings.
Scientists can be believers only if they erect a wall between the two. Perhaps they share the idea that religion is beyond the reach of reason. This is wrong.
When believers describe their gods, we can check their statements for coherence with each other and with the world. The test is always fatal.
Comely Bank Avenue