Are science and faith opposites?

by Matthew Ruttan

A lot of people think that science and faith are opposites. Maybe you’ve heard something like this in the media, on talk shows, in books, or in conversations.

Richard Dawkins, one of the loudest bullhorns for atheism and the idea that faith is anti-thinking and anti-science, says, “Faith is like a mental illness, a great cop out, the excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.”


Of course, I think he’s wrong. But why do he and some others think this like?

History (Mis)Represented

One of the reasons people buy in to this supposed opposition is because we’ve been told it’s always been that way.

Galileo Tortured?

We hear stories about famous scientists like Galileo and how he was forced to face the Inquisition for believing, like others, that the sun was the centre of the universe (and not the earth). We’re told how he was persecuted, charged with heresy, put in dungeons, and tortured.

But this isn’t accurate.

Galileo was a practicing Roman Catholic. He was certainly critical of some of the church’s views, but he was never charged with heresy, put in dungeons, or tortured. He was, for a while, put under house arrest, but was soon released and continued to publish books. He died of natural causes in 1642.

A Flat Earth?

Another story we’re told is that the big bad Church taught that the world was flat and resisted scientific discoveries which said otherwise.

Again, not quite…

Are science and faith opposites?