This Sunday you are invited to a dialogue between faith and reason, religion and science. I will preach on the foundations of truth underlying science and religion. Dr. Fraser Fleming will use my sermon as his point of departure in an 11th Hour address and panel discussion that will follow Coffee Hour within our Parish Hall.
Dr. Fleming, a New Zealander, will be here with his wife, Pam. They are from Philadelphia. Dr. Fleming heads the chemistry department of Drexel University. Fleming is also the author of The Truth about Science and Religion: From the Big Bang to Neuroscience. The book explores popular views on science and religion, provides historical and scientific background, and philosophical insight needed to think through issues of science and religion, and their influences upon our lives.
If that sounds drily intellectual to you, consider how much is at stake here. This week I read an article written by Wilfred F. McClay in the Hedgehog Review. The article was the basis of David Brooks’ March 31 opinion piece in the NY Times. May I share a few of McClay’s conclusions? Truly fascinating stuff, at least to me.
“The progress of our scientific and technological knowledge in the West, and of the culture of mastery that has come along with it, has worked to displace the cultural centrality of Christianity and Judaism, the great historical religions of the West. But it has not been able to replace them. For all of its achievements, modern science has left us with two overwhelmingly, and seemingly insoluble, problems for the conduct of human life.
“First, modern science cannot instruct us in how to live, since it cannot provide us with the ordering of ends according to which our human strivings should be oriented. In a word, it cannot tell us what we should live for, let alone what we should be willing to sacrifice for, or to die for.
“Second, science cannot do anything to relieve the guilt weighing down our souls, a weight to which it has added appreciably…That growing weight seeks opportunities for release, seeks transactional outlets, but finds no obvious or straightforward ones in secular dispensation. Instead, more often than not, we are left to flail about, seeking some semblance of absolution in an incoherent post-Christian moral economy…
“Perhaps human progress cannot be sustained without religion, or something
like it, and specifically without something like the moral economy of sin and absolution that has hitherto been secured by the religious traditions of the West.”
Congregationalism always faces into and ponders the vital issues of our time. What could be a more pressing issue than this? Come and help us sort it all out.