Opinion | Do Religion and Science Clash or Coexist? – The New York Times

To the Editor:

In Faith and Science Are Not at Odds” (Opinion, Nov. 8), Tish Harrison Warren quotes Deborah Haarsma, an astrophysicist and a Christian, as saying scientific communities have to “acknowledge the value of religion as a way of answering life’s biggest questions.”

But religions do not reliably answer any of life’s questions. Religions offer verbal arguments and unverifiable claims to appeal to the opinions and emotions of the faithful. The stories told by different religions are inconsistent, and these differences can never be resolved experimentally.

In plain English, a belief is something that is not an established fact. Non-falsifiable beliefs, feelings and opinions are fundamentally incompatible with science. Certainly science doesn’t have an answer for everything, but where it does, those answers work whether you believe them or not.

Pulak Dutta
Evanston, Ill.
The writer is a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University.

To the Editor:

Faith and science need not always be at loggerheads. How the world was created, as well as the date of its creation, can reasonably be left to scientific inquiry. Why it was created and our purpose as its inhabitants can properly be left to faith to discern.

Barry Oster
Great Neck, N.Y.

To the Editor:

In her essay about faith and science not being at odds, the only faith Tish Harrison Warren identifies is Christianity. World Religion Day notes that there are more than 4,000 recognized religions in the world, although most people belong to one of five major religions worshiping different gods. So, in which religion and in which god should we place our faith?

Although there are various opinions on how science is done, in the end there is only one scientific method in which to place our faith. People turn to religion when they cannot explain something and to science when they wish to explain it.

Opinion Conversation Questions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

J. David Archibald
San Diego
The writer is professor emeritus of biology at San Diego State University.

To the Editor:

Rather reluctantly, I recently traveled to New York City to attend a small medical conference in Brooklyn. I was reluctant even though I am vaccinated and had just received a booster shot. Masked and weighed down with Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and a case of the jitters, I boarded the plane. Luckily, there were no violent outbursts and no one refused to wear a mask.

Once at the hotel, I was again pleased to see everyone in masks. Over the course of three days, every restaurant in Brooklyn and Manhattan asked for ID’s and proof of vaccination cards, and a few took my temperature. I enjoyed great meals, polite and friendly service, and a sense of calm replaced my fears. I knew everyone around me was vaccinated.

I realize that the possibility of catching the virus still exists, but the precautions that were taken were incredibly wise. Even the busy streets were filled with masked New Yorkers and visitors.

Bravo, New Yorkers! After all of the horrific losses suffered in your city, your resilience and ability to adapt are commendable.

Ann Brazeau
East Lansing, Mich.

To the Editor:

Re “G.O.P. Turns Education Into Potent Wedge Issue” (front page, Nov. 4):

A persistent question in the Trump era is why so many people will vote against their own interests. Democrats have been slow to recognize this phenomenon, thinking that voters will assess policy questions and vote for whoever most closely matches their needs.

Republicans, by contrast, have long known that culture is the most important thing in an election, because it is about how voters see themselves, and about their innermost fears and hatreds. People’s memories are short, and they are susceptible to immediate cultural fears, ignoring the roots of those fears in previous administrations.

And people are swayed by their perception of a strong, charismatic leader. In Donald Trump Republicans have such a leader, but at the moment the Democrats have no one to match him. It’s a sad and ominous time for the Democrats and for the country.

Tim Shaw
Cambridge, Mass.

To the Editor:

Re “A New 10-Year Plan for the Cosmos” (Out There, Science Times, Nov. 9):

The seduction of finding other life and habitable planets in outer space has impelled good science. But until we reject exploration in service of exploitation (of other lives and all of nature), it will be another dead end for our rapacious and irresponsible species.

We respect neither our neighbors nor our home planet, and we’re already filling space with our garbage. I don’t see taking this bad show on the interstellar road.

Annlinn Kruger
Bar Harbor, Maine

To the Editor:

Re “A Dangerous Supreme Court Fight Over Vaccine Mandates Looms,” by Wendy Parmet (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 1):

Vaccine refusals risk lives, both those of the refusers and of those they might infect. The debate over religious exemptions to vaccine mandates, therefore, compels a value choice. Either religious freedom or protection of human life can prevail, but not both.

If the Supreme Court were to rule eventually that Covid vaccine mandates must include religious exemptions, the justices will have made their choice, and it would not be one that puts “pro life” values at the top.

Robert I. Field
Philadelphia
The writer is professor of law and professor of health management and policy at Drexel University.

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