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Science and Religion Aren't About the Same Thing
By Martin LeFevre
Oct 23, 2021, 9:59am

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The beauty of a wood always surprises one on a rainy day. After months of smoke and haze from wildfires, the early rains are a godsend.

A light drizzle falls as I walk along the fragrant paths. The parkland is devoid of people except for a couple of kids riding their bikes home from school.

A doe and her fawn stand leisurely in the middle of the stream, and are surprised by the human walking on the bank above them. The fawn is unafraid, but follows its mother as she effortlessly bounds up the steep bank on the other side.

A couple minutes later, a large woodland hawk swoops over and lands on a branch of an oak tree overhanging the park road. One sees them regularly and hears them often in the park, but not with such a sense of ownership of the place. At least today in this college town, the raptor has full tenure.

The drizzle stops, and I sit for half an hour at a picnic table, a pad protecting my butt from getting soaked. The oaks, sycamores and everything around me grow more vivid as the mind grows more deeply present.

Walking again more slowly and consciously, I drink in the rich damp smells in the park. A slower pace mirrors the sublimity emanating from the earth, and a feeling of infinite mystery and deep reverence spontaneously arises within one.

When the mind and heart effortlessly grow quiet, one comes into contact with the silence that precedes and encompasses all sound and man-made noise. There is something unnamable beyond thought, but thought must be deeply and effortlessly still for it to be felt.

There is no personal God or separate creator. Nor, in the words of British evolutionary biologist and zealous atheist, Richard Dawkins, "any kind of supernatural intelligence that designed the universe and everything in it." Dawkins throws the baby out with the bathwater however when he says, "we must be wholly mechanistic when talking about life."

As a long-time student of human evolution, there are many things that Dawkins says with which I agree. For example: "Religions have miserably failed to do justice to the sublime reality of the real natural world." I also share his outrage at the fact that "teachers all over America are being prevented by intimidation from teaching the facts of evolution."

But Dawkins is mistaken when he declares that religion and science "are about the same thing...both aspire to explain the universe, explain why we're here, the meaning of life, and the role of humanity."

That statement indicates that Dawkins understands neither the scientific mind nor the religious mind, which are distinctly different though potentially compatible.

Science is the open-ended endeavor to accrue knowledge about nature and the universe through observation, theory, evidence and repeatable experiments. Science cannot explain "why we're here, the meaning of life, and the role of humanity."

Religion cannot do that either -- that is the purpose of philosophy, which is essentially explanatory. The religious mind, which has nothing to do with belief, is oriented to silently experiencing the wholeness of nature and the universe, and the inseparable "mind of God" that infuses all energy, matter and life.

Dawkins derides the "voguish movement among many scientists" that maintains religion and science are about different things, each having their place. Whether there is "intelligence somewhere at the root of the universe is a scientific question," he dogmatically pronounces. That is simply untrue.

"I put a probability value on the question of God," Dawkins adds, thereby applying the same tool that insurance companies use with their actuarial tables to the most important question a human being can ask.

Like many people, Dawkins conflates religion and the religious mind. They are two completely different minds, since there is a vast difference between the comforting belief in a separate, personal God, and the often-disturbing awareness of a creative, immeasurable intelligence that pervades nature and the cosmos.

Is that intelligence completely indifferent to human consciousness, or is there an intrinsic cosmic drive within sentient creatures such as Homo sapiens to transcend the increasing chaos and meaninglessness of consciousness based on thought, awakening consciousness that reflects the harmony with the universe?

The methods, tools, and knowledge of science obviously have their place, but they do not apply to the first work of the human being-to fully awaken the potential for total awareness that the universe breathed into the human brain.

Science cannot bring about a transmutation in consciousness, and religions have failed to do so. Only the individual, questioning alone and with other individuals, can bring about the creative explosion of insight that will save humanity, and the earth from man.


Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue.

Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.

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