Magisterium…and Public Radio

new-digs-KPCCI have been invited to be a part of a KPCC Crawford Family Forum on Science and Religion next Wednesday at 7:00.  Joining me on the panel will be Michael Schermer and John Timpane, and the expectation is that we will explore the relationship between science and religion.  It’s a big enough topic for an hour’s conversation I would expect.  I am honored to have been asked, but nervous too.  I am used to speaking in 18 minute segments, not 30-60 seconds, and that will be a challenge.  The relationship of these two “magisterial” as Stephen Jay Gould used to term them, is old and often fractious, and continues to be so.

They need not be in opposition.  Both science and religion are attempts to understand the world we live in – I would add the arts as a third magisterium – and understanding our world is prior to making decisions about how to live in the world.  To deny the findings of science – for example in terms of climate change – is to court disaster.  To deny the findings of science – for example in terms of sexual orientation – is to allow for injustice.  Religion is not so much about fact as about value, and science is not so much about value as about fact.  Hand in hand they can lead to wisdom; in opposition they can lead to violence.

UUs have counted among ourselves many scientists, and we certainly do so here at Neighborhood.  We have always honored the findings of science and have believed that what is, is.  We don’t often argue about what the meaning of is, is, but rather take fact as fact.  But maybe the closest connection we have to science is in how we approach the world. At its best, the scientific method is open, open to questions and to change, to new understandings.  So too with us.  Our non-dogmatic faith affirms that faith, or belief, is dynamic, not static, that being open and free is the best way to a better understanding of how to live with one another and in this world.

So, maybe listen in on the 11th.  And say a little prayer that I represent us well.

-Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson

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One Response to Magisterium…and Public Radio

  1. Lee Brainerd says:

    You’ll be terrific, Jim–excelsior! I always felt that if a person believes in God, they must realize that God gave personkind a brain to be scientific! here is a list of Unitarians in science or medicine if you need some ammunition. Love, Lee
    Alexander Graham Bell*
    Tim Berners-Lee
    Elizabeth Blackwell
    T. Berry Brazelton
    Luther Burbank*
    Hugh Cabot
    Ida M. Cannon
    Walter Bradford Cannon
    Walter Channing
    Brock Chisholm
    Laurel Salton Clark
    Stanley Cobb
    Arthur Code
    Peter Cooper
    Charles Darwin
    Edmond Halley
    Lewis Latimer
    Maria Mitchell
    Ashley Montagu
    Samuel F.B. Morse*
    Winfred Overholser
    Isaac Newton
    Florence Nightingale
    Linus Pauling
    Cecila Payne-Gaposchkin
    William Pickering
    Joseph Priestley*
    Benjamin Rush
    Michael Servetus
    Herbert A. Simon
    Lyman Spitzer
    Vilhjalmur Stefansson
    Charles P. Steinmetz
    Emily Howard Stowe*
    Clyde Tombaugh
    Maurice B. Visscher
    Dr. Joseph Workman
    Sewall Wright

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