Six O’Clock Series Recap: Science or Religion...Must We Choose?

Posted on 3/12/2013 3:18:31 PM

The Six O’Clock Series presented “Science or Religion: Must We Choose?” on March 11, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. in the Ohio Room, Hadley Union Building.

On Monday evening, the Six O’Clock Series explored this question with a panel of scholars from a variety of academic backgrounds. Each panelist believed the answer is yes, we can believe in God and accept the world of science, too. The presenters each discussed their reasoning and beliefs, and then the floor was opened to questions and discussion.

The panelists included: Rev. David Hanna, pastor, Calvary Presbyterian Church; Biologist Barkley Butler, professor emeritus, Department of Biology, IUP; Anthropologist Phillip Neusius, professor and chair, Department of Anthropology, IUP; and Historian Charles Cashdollar, professor emeritus and University Professor, Department of History, IUP.

Neusius discussed the nature of knowing and understanding the world as approached from a scientific perspective and a religious perspective. He described the scientific approach as being a “bounded” knowledge that can be measured in contrast to the nature of a religious approach that is “unbound.” Yet, he specified this does not make them incompatible. Butler expanded this with examples from theoretical physics that are not yet able to be measured, yet are still considered part of a scientific perspective. Cashdollar pointed out that most of the knowledge we accept as “bounded” knowledge today had been “unbounded” throughout much of history.

The panelists stated that their goal was to encourage critical thinking and engage in an open dialog. Questions asked by audience members suggested that these goals had been met. One audience member identified herself as agnostic and said that while she had grown up in a Catholic family, she now wasn't sure what to believe. “Why,” she asked the panel, “should I believe a book written by a bunch of men thousands of years ago?” Questions such as this were not easily responded to by the panel, but did reveal an audience eager to join the conversation.

The next Six O’Clock Series will be held Monday, March 25. This will be the first day of classes following Spring Break. The Student Secular Alliance will host Hemant Mehta talking about the rights of athiests regarding freedom from religious persecution.