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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Science will never entirely vanquish religion

The relationship of science and religion was the theme of an article by William Rees-Mogg in The Times (1 April 2011). As it is only available on subscription I will summarise. It is really about whether the scientific method can accommodate religious belief and religious experience. He contrasts the work of Richard Dawkins "who argues that evolution made God an irrevant and unnecessary hypothesis" and that of Sir Alistair Hardy, founder of the Religious Experience Research Unit (RERU), who sought to record the evidence for the existence of spiritual experience . He highlights a new book "God's Biologist: the Life of Alistair Hardy" by David Hay as essential reading for anyone interested in this debate. Rees-Mogg accepts that spiritual experiences exist and that the real question surrounds their meaning: "People who have had them tend to believe in their truth, but for those who have had no such experience, belief is much more difficult. Nevertheless, Hardy's work has provided a substantial volume of evidence, which needs to be considered with an open mind". Sir Alistair Hardy was a member of the Manchester College Oxford Chapel Society, Oxford's Unitarian congregation.

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