Bridging science and religion

On November 10th, I attempted Rabbi Michael Cohen’s lecture on the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. It was the first time this semester that we assist to a seminar that was not presented by a doctor or a researcher, which really made quite a change. The tone used during this conference was quite different from we had seen before. Rabbi Cohen didn’t use graphics or data to present us a certain situation, on the contrary, I felt like he was telling us a story.

But one of the more unusual aspect of this lecture was the fact that he it was given by a rabbi. All the lecturers that I have seen so far did show up wearing a scientist hat; I was not able to tell what their religious or political beliefs were. At the beginning of the presentation, Rabbi Cohen affirmed that he had just published a novel about bridging religion and environment, which I thought was a very interesting issue.

I found this great article about the controversial relation between science and religion on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The article begins by defining science and religion. The author reports the definition given by Jacques Monod (a French biologist that worked at the Pasteur Institute): ” The cornerstone of the scientific method is the postulate that nature is objective…. In other words, the systematic denial that ‘true’ knowledge can be got by interpreting nature in terms of final causes …”. Further explanation given in the article includes that science is “the absence of moral judgement, or value judgement”. Thus, science seems to be diametrically opposite with the nature of religion, which is basically all about beliefs. In what we can call pure science, beliefs are not accepted; to be considered credible, a new theory has to be based on data and supported by the scientific community. Is it possible, than, to consort religious beliefs and pure science?

2 Responses to “Bridging science and religion”

  1. Eric Wolf says:

    You say “to be considered credible, a new theory has to be based on data and supported by the scientific community”. How is “supported by the scientific community” objective and free of value or moral judgement? Is it not possible for a theory to be objectively true and NOT supported but the scientific community?

    As for the data supporting science, all too frequently scientists are not willing to share their data ( and make gross errors in reporting results (

    The error is that scientists assume an almost religious stance in their role in determining what is “real”. Scientists need to be overtly critical of any bias in their work – and understand that, as human beings, our perception is always biased.

  2. guesswho says:

    Thank you for your comment. I must admit that I was not thinking about the fact that truth in science may be only true for a little while, until another theory emerges. After all, the scientific community once believed that earth was the center of the universe. Maybe there is a certain part of beliefs in science too.