Sunday, July 5, 2009

What is the Place of Religion and Science

In Seymour Feldman's introduction to the Ralbag's magnum opus The Wars of the Lord he discusses the difference between religion and science. He also deals with the thoughts of the Ralbag and his synthesis of science and religion. He says,

"Religion is concerned with matters other than science. It is the latter's province and duty to discover truths about the universe. It is religion's business to teach us how to live in this universe. Only the most arrogant of the scientists pretend to do the latter; only the misguided and zealous of the religionists attempt to do the former. This was the truce that Spinoza tried to effect in the seventeenth century. There are still many who reject this kind of religious irenicism. Some do so in the fervid, indeed fanatical belief that their religion contains all the truth, that philosophy and science are wholly irrelevant in the important areas and questions of life;others perhaps a dwindling minority, still believe that philosophy does have an important, indeed crucial role to play in religion, that religion cannot be divorced from reason. For these Gersonides is a guide."

It is important for us to realize the place of religion. The Torah is not written as a book of science, rather it is supposed to be a guide for life. This can be seen through the stories that are told throughout genesis, that teach us valuable lessons, and the 613 mitzvos that help to guide us in the proper actions. Anyone that tries to learn scientific truths based solely on the Torah will be led to great errors.

Science on the other hand is the pursuit of the truth of the physical universe. However, science can not tell us anything about how a person is supposed to act. These scientists would be basing their theories of how a person is supposed to behave on nothing. There is nothing that can be found in the physical universe that can correctly guide a person in the proper actions. Morals can not be found through science, anyone who tries this will err.

Ralbag's theories do not try to impose religion on science or science on religion. His ideas harmonize these two concepts and put them into their proper places. He shows us how science can teach us the truth about the physical world and also how religion can teach us to behave and what to value. These ideas do not conflict in any way, rather they bring harmony to the world. Science can help us realize the beauty in the world which will help us appreciate religion in a deeper and broader way.


Baruch said...

You're starting to sound like Garnel :-)

Anywho, sometime before I leave Miami, I'm gonna have to introduce Ari and you to Full Metal Alchemist.

E-Man said...

I can't wait to find out what that is!