Religion is based on dogma whilst science is based on evidence?

No, actually each accommodates both.

by Peter Saunders

dogma or evidenceDr. Evan Harris has this morning recommended that everyone read an article in the Guardian newspaper on Science and faith titled, ‘Faster than light story highlights the difference between science and religion’. So I did.

You are welcome to read it yourself (it is very short) but its main message is encapsulated in the following paragraph:

One of the things that appeals to me about science is that, unlike religion, science is not dogmatic. It does not say: ‘This is the way things are, and it can be no other way.’ Instead it says something like: ‘Based on the evidence we have so far, this is how things probably are; if clear and solid evidence is discovered that shows this is not how things are, then we will need to change our minds.’

The article thereby perpetuates two myths believed by many atheists. ‘Science is based on evidence whilst Religion isn’t’ and ‘Religion is dogmatic whilst Science is not’.

Well I can’t answer for other religions but I chose to become a Christian on the basis of examining the evidence. Yes the evidence of personal experience and the complexity of the universe played a part in me coming to believe that God existed. But the key things that persuaded me to become a Christian were the teaching, claims and actions of Jesus Christ as recorded by eye-witnesses.

I suspect that most of the 580 million evangelical Christians in the world today, and many of the total of 2.3 billion who call themselves Christian, would argue similarly. They became Christians because they were convinced by evidence that Jesus Christ was in fact who he claimed to be.

The evidence of Jesus’ teaching, life, miracles and actions, including his death and resurrection, leads us to the conclusion both that God exists, and that Jesus Christ, is this God, creator, sustainer and judge of the universe, in the flesh. Putting our personal trust and faith in him is the logical corollary.

The dogma in Christianity is based on this belief. If Jesus is indeed God then we ought to take what he says rather seriously. To disbelieve God’s teaching is both foolish and arrogant. So is Christianity dogmatic? Well in a sense yes, because Jesus Christ is the absolute authority in the universe, but our belief in the authority of Jesus Christ is actually based on evidence.

What about science? Well belief in science, like belief in Christianity, is based on an interpretation of evidence. We gather data, observe regularities and develop theories which are then tested against further observed regularities…


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