What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict?

What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict?
AP Photo/Christopher Sullivan

Are science and religion in conflict? If popular discussions are any guide, the answer must be yes. From the debate over the compatibility of evolution and Christianity to the ongoing disputes between religious apologists and the “new atheists,” conflict between science and religion seems like an inescapable fact of modern life.

But what does it mean to say that science and religion “conflict”? This was the topic of a lecture last March at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. by Stephen M. Barr, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware. A practicing scientist and a practicing Catholic, Barr not only believes that science and religion are compatible but is a living testament to it. Two years ago, he founded the Society of Catholic Scientists (SCS), an international lay organization intended to “foster fellowship among Catholic scientists and to witness to the harmony of faith and reason.” (Full disclosure: the author, though not a scientist, is a “scholar associate” of SCS.)

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