Home > Ethics, John's Blogs > Should Science and Religion Be Separated?

Should Science and Religion Be Separated?

Our president wants to separate science and religion.  This implies a question: Can they be successfully separated?  This Christianity Today article by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway argues that they shouldn’t. 

Ziegler Hemingway notes that far from trying to separate science and religion, Obama has more closely linked them together.

And if science should be free from any religious influence, why did Obama bring in religious leaders from mainline Protestant denominations and Jewish organizations for the embryonic stem-cell signing ceremony? The White House somehow managed to hyper-politicize and hyper-sacralize science in the name of making it apolitical and unencumbered by religion.

But he linked them in a way that tries to give science and the government the upper hand in who decides when life begins.  He is trying to give the appearance of religious ethics without the reality of them.  I believe that this is unwise.  Following is just one reason that the government is untrustworthy apart from Christian ethics:

Consider that we are talking about the same federal government that, not too long ago, withheld life-saving syphilis treatment from 400 poor black men for 40 years, causing many of them to die, infect their spouses, and give the disease to their children at birth.

Some may argue that this is an anomaly.   I would argue that it is what happens when answering questions through science becomes more important than how we answer questions.

Here’s the conclusion to the article:

Despite what Obama has said, whether to destroy human embryos for research isn’t a scientific question—it’s a moral question about how to treat nascent human life. It seems the current embryonic stem-cell policy is what happens when questions about when human life begins are above the President’s pay grade.

I agree.  When he was campaigning, he tried to defer the question.  But as president, with control of stem cell research policy, it can’t be deferred.  In failing to answer the question “Who decides?” he is letting science decide.  This is a case where no decision equals a decision.

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Categories: Ethics, John's Blogs
  1. Brian D.
    March 24, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I find it disturbing how far science could move in the next few years in the where does life begin question. What I find interesting is that no debate (or low profile) has been brought up as to when does life end? Is this a matter of religion to decide to euthanize someone, or a moral scientific choice.
    If Science is used to decide when life begins, which even the science world is not in agreement, could the same argument not be used as to when life ends.

  2. jlemke
    March 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Brian,

    I agree with you (and many do) that defining where life begins has an impact on where we think it ends. However, science does not seem to be intruding on that end yet. But our general culture is intruding a lot.

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