Do you think science and religion can ever be reconciled or harmonized? Why or why not?
This begs so many questions!
What do you mean by religion?
What do you mean by science?
What do you mean by harmonized?
[And onwards down the infinite fractal arms of enquiry!]
If you mean by religion, a belief in a self aware creator spirit;
and you mean by science, the eternal quest to create more effective models of this amazing reality we find ourselves, involving recursive questioning and reassessment of assumptions and heuristics that we use to build our models of understanding and experience;
then I suspect that no such reconciliation is possible.
It seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that our existence as self aware entities owes little or nothing to any sort of “God” like entity, and almost everything to the process of evolution by natural selection working recursively on many levels of organisation and in different domains of replicators.
So in that sense, no – not at all likely – a very good approximation to zero probability.
If one looks at religions as collections of proven heuristic knowledge, of working strategies for high level cooperation and community building (to the extent that they are, and are not simply tools turned to the political purposes of command and control), then there is certainly much that can be learned from religion, even if all of it needs to be recontextualised to be most powerfully used.
It seems clear that our conscious experience of being is of a model of reality that our subconscious minds build using a mix of tools delivered by both genetic and cultural evolution and our personal experiences of our being in reality, to create the distinctions and abstractions that populate our personal subconscious models and become our experience of being.
That subconscious process is so much vaster and more powerful than our conscious experience, that it has many of the attributes of a god – the “god” within each and every one of us.
So I have a certain sympathy and alignment with many of the religious notions of giving up attempts to control, and to use the tools of conscious practice of selection of intention and context, to influence our experiences of being. In so far as these notions align with practices of prayer and meditation then they seem to me to have a certain practical utility in many situations (and not so much in some other contexts).
I have a certain sympathy with the notion that we are tiny in a vastness.
I have a certain sympathy with the notions that our long term self interests are most powerfully served by cooperation at all levels, and there is a requirement for attendant strategies to be present that effectively prevent cheating strategies from over-running and destroying cooperatives at all levels.
And when I look at many religious teachings from a fairly high level abstract viewpoint, I see much in many religious teachings that reinforce these notions from games theory.
So it seems unlikely to me, at many different levels, that any human brain will ever fully understand itself, and we may approximate such things to very high levels of utility very soon, and I suspect there will always remain a certain level of uncertainty and “magic in being” that closely resembles notions like grace and beneficence.
So I am not the sort of scientist that deals with certainty, as in knowing anything with 100% confidence.
I am the sort of scientist who is acutely conscious of uncertainty in all things, and at the same time I have many things about which I am very confident indeed, and one would need to produce some very high quality evidence to get me to re-examine.
And it seems clear to me that the sooner every individual human being moves beyond the need for religion, and is able to accept the potentially infinite diversity that is possible for human beings, the better it will be for each and every one of us. And I fully understand that very few others currently see it that way, and it is as I see things.