“How Science and Faith Can Co-exist“

Sehr lesenswerter Artikel von Alan Lightman, Atheist, Autor und Physiker, der am MIT lehrt, auf salon.com:

“Hasn’t modern science now pushed God into such a tiny corner that He or She or It no longer has any room to operate – or perhaps has been rendered irrelevant altogether? Not according to surveys showing that more than three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, eternal souls and God. Despite the recent spate of books and pronouncements by prominent atheists, religion remains, along with science, one of the dominant forces that shape our civilization. And our little group of scientists and artists finds itself fascinated with these contrasting beliefs, fascinated with different ways of understanding the world. And fascinated by how science and religion can coexist in our minds. (…)”

Lightman beginnt, indem er uns von einem regelmäßigen Treffen von Wissenschaftler_innen erzählt, in deren Gesprächen immer wieder Religion auftaucht. Er entwirft die Theorie einer „Zentralen Doktrin“, in der alle Naturgesetze versammelt sind. Dann beschreibt er verschiedene Theorien zum Glauben, vom Theismus bis zum Atheismus und wie sie sich mit der Zentralen Doktrin vertragen. Wenn es einen Gott gibt, greift er in die Naturgesetze ein? Schließlich befragt er gläubige Wissenschaftler_innen, wie sie diese zwei angeblich so unvereinbaren Dinge doch unter einen Hut bringen:

„Francis Collins, leader of the celebrated Human Genome Project and now director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told Newsweek, “I’ve not had a problem reconciling science and faith since I became a believer at age 27 … if you limit yourself to the kinds of questions that science can ask, you’re leaving out some other things that I think are also pretty important, like why are we here and what’s the meaning of life and is there a God? Those are not scientific questions.” (…) Owen Gingerich, professor emeritus of astronomy and of the history of science at Harvard University, says: “I believe that our physical universe is somehow wrapped within a broader and deeper spiritual universe, in which miracles can occur. We would not be able to plan ahead or make decisions without a world that is largely law-like. The scientific picture of the world is an important one. But it does not apply to all events. Even in science we take a lot for granted. It’s a matter of what you want to trust. Faith is about hope rather than proof.””

Auch Lightman hat natürlich eine Meinung:

„I believe there are things we take on faith, without physical proof and even sometimes without any methodology for proof. We cannot clearly show why the ending of a particular novel haunts us. We cannot prove under what conditions we would sacrifice our own life in order to save the life of our child. We cannot prove whether it is right or wrong to steal in order to feed our family, or even agree on a definition of “right” and “wrong.” We cannot prove the meaning of our life, or whether life has any meaning at all. For these questions, we can gather evidence and debate, but, in the end, we cannot arrive at any system of analysis akin to the way in which a physicist decides how many seconds it will take a one-foot-long pendulum to make a complete swing. These are questions for the arts and the humanities. These are also questions aligned with some of the intangible concerns of traditional religion.

As another example, I cannot prove that the Central Doctrine of science is true.“

Schließlich schreibt er über Richard Dawkins, dessen Werke versuchen, eine Nicht-Existenz Gottes zu beweisen, was natürlich von vornherein ziemlich aussichtslos ist. Zusätzlich bescheinigt er Dawkins eine recht eingeschränkte Sichtweise auf Religion, die er gerne als menschenverachtend hinstellt:

„What troubles me about Dawkins’ pronouncements is his wholesale dismissal of religion and religious sensibility. In a speech at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, in 1992, Dawkins said: “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” And a month after Sept. 11, 2001, Dawkins told the British newspaper the Guardian: “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.”

In my opinion, Dawkins has a narrow view of faith. I would be the first to challenge any belief that contradicts the findings of science. But, as I have said earlier, there are things we believe in that do not submit to the methods and reductions of science. Furthermore, faith, and the passion for the transcendent that often goes with it, have been the impulse for so many exquisite creations of humankind. Consider the verses of the Gitanjali, the Messiah, the mosque of the Alhambra, the paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Should we take to task Tagore and Handel and Sultan Yusuf and Michelangelo for not thinking? Faith, in its broadest sense, is about far more than belief in the existence of God or the disregard of scientific evidence. Faith is the willingness to give ourselves over, at times, to things we do not fully understand. Faith is the belief in things larger than ourselves. Faith is the ability to honor stillness at some moments and at others to ride the passion and exuberance that is the artistic impulse, the flight of the imagination, the full engagement with this strange and shimmering world.

Scattered throughout Dawkins’ writings are comments that religion has been a destructive force in human civilization. Certainly, human beings, in the name of religion, have sometimes caused great suffering and death to other human beings. But so has science, in the many weapons of destruction created by physicists, biologists and chemists, especially in the 20th century. Both science and religion can be employed for good and for ill. It is how they are used by human beings, by us, that matters. Human beings have sometimes been driven by religious passion to build schools and hospitals, to create poetry and music and sweeping temples, just as human beings have employed science to cure disease, to improve agriculture, to increase material comfort and the speed of communication.”

Im Artikel steht noch so viel mehr, deswegen: rüber da, bitte. Lohnt sich.