I did not get to spend time spinning out my thoughts on science and religion with the classes, but I did stress that the approach to learning about religions was essentially scientific; that is, we would focus on things that we could objectively identify about other religions without passing judgment about the truths any religion professes. This avoided confrontations but it also taught important truths about religion as a human phenomenon. The world religions are impressive for their depth of history, complexity, and sophistication.
Science has not been around so long (at least the modern incarnation of it). But science has provided humankind more reliable information about the nature of the universe than all religions put together. This does not mean religions are wrong-headed, only that they are not designed to investigation the way the universe is. Religions are designed (I would argue by evolution) to interpret the significance of what is known (or believed) about our place in the cosmos.
Teaching these religions has underlined for me the importance of each religion entering into a dialogue with science to bring the interpretations of the universe up to date, to illumine or place not in the universe people thought we lived in two thousand years ago, but the universe we know we inhabit today.
Now that I’m done teaching for a while, things are slowing down a bit, so I want to get back to posting at this blog. Please leave comments and let me know what you think about these ideas. Thanks.