Sunday, November 22, 2009

Faith vs Science

While I personally do not see any essential conflict between science and faith, it sometimes seems like the two have been at loggerheads since long before the Catholic Church locked up Galileo Galilee for supporting the Copernican heresy that the earth revolved around the sun. We see this all the time today, from the unproductive argument among Creationism, Intelligent Design and Darwinism to the way science is routinely perverted and misrepresented in the cause of one political position or another.

I was at a nutrition related event a couple of weeks ago and the subject of soy came up in conversation. I offered as how I thought the issue of whether or not soy was beneficial or dangerous was unresolved, and that the science was as yet inconclusive. For example, there is no doubt doubt that soy contains phytoestrogens, which are known to promote the growth of breast cancer cells in animals. However soy also acts as an angiogenesis inhibitor by blocking receptor sites and so competing with the "bad" estorgens. As always in nutirition, thisngs are complex and trade-offs exist. But back to my point....

The group quickly divided itself into "pro-soy" and "anti-soy" factions and rational discussion came to an end. You would have thought that my suggestion that the jury was still out and that soy had some beneficial properties was an exhortation to go forth and kill puppies.

In a recent article on this subject in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado College psychology professor John Horner writes, "There are some who for ideological reasons want to deny science its due. They instead want to pick and choose what scientific discoveries they are willing to believe." We face many serious challenges today. Global warming, malnutrition, viral pandemics, etc. If we are going to address these issues by first deciding what we want to believe, and then ignoring anything that conflicts with our view, we are all in deep trouble.

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