CofE Synod Affirms Compatibility of Science and Religion

A motion affirming the compatibility of science and religion was passed overwhelmingly by the Church of England's General Synod on Wednesday, with two bishops with science degrees leading the debate.

"We wish to refute the perception that you have to choose between science and faith…the crude caricature of faith as being blind and irrational," said Bishop Peter Capon, who has a degree in computer science. "We reject the 'scientism' that claims that, in principle, science can resolve all questions capable of being answered."

Capon went on to say that Christians make a "category mistake" if they try to read the Bible as a "modern scientific textbook," and noted that believers who reject mainstream science do "nothing to support those Christians who are scientists in their vocation or strengthen the Christian voice in the scientific area."

Echoing Capon's remarks was Dr. Anna Thomas-Betts, an Oxford physicist who gave a personal reflection saying: "Religion and science have always been integral in my life. I don't look in science books to find out how to live and I don't look in the Bible to find out about Higgs boson. What is faith but a series of hypotheses verifying the truth of what we believe?"

Speaking to the synod for the last time before his retirement, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler, who has a doctorate in electronics, called conflict between the church and science "unnecessary" and detrimental to the church's authority.

Butler added that even believing in science, at its most fundamental level, requires faith.

"'The measurements point to a universe filled with a kind of matter which we've never seen, propelled by a force which we don't understand' – and they say that religion is all faith," Butler said, quoting Wendy Freedman, author of The New Physics.

"If believing that isn't faith I don't know what is. I don't think we need be defensive about ours."

The synod passed the motion by a vote of 241 to two.

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