Release #22-97
December 15, 1997

Conflict Between Science and Religion Resolved?

     Despite freezing rain and sleet, over fifty people showed up to listen to Physics Professor Stuart Samuel give a public lecture on "Science and Religion: Are They in Conflict?" The event took place on December 10 at Columbia University. For more than several hundred years, religion and science have been at odds. In the seventeenth century, Galileo Galilei stood trial, was found guilty and spent the last eight years of his life in house arrest over the issue of geocentrism. When Darwin's Origin of Species was published, people were divided among those who supported evolution and those who opposed it. Heated and sometimes hostile debates were commonplace. Even today the controversy continues. But with coming of the third millennium, can the battle between religion and science be put to rest? Quoting from The Bible According to Einstein, a book to be released by Jupiter Scientific Publishing in late 1998, Professor Samuel argued that the two domains are complementary. "Religion deals with the spiritual world; science deals with the physical world. Conflict arises only when one discipline tries to make a statement about the other. The Church overstepped its area of expertise when it tried to say that the Earth was the center of the universe. On the opposite side, science cannot tell us what is good or bad. As long as religion confines itself to issues of morality and faith, and as long as science restricts itself to descriptions of the physical world, no clash between the two arises." The presentation created quite a stir among the attendees. Dozens of people asked questions and made statements. Kevin Renshaw, manager of the Columbia University Bookstore and organizer of the event, noted the high interest, "This is the most people that have attended any of our readings." Was the issue of science and religion resolved in the minds of those present? It is hard to say. As Renshaw, Samuel and others left the room after almost two hours of discussion, some people remained and continued to debate the issue.

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