• Question: Can you be religious and also be a scientist, or are the two exclusive?

    Asked by mattyboy123 to Tim, Sammie, Rachel, Mark, Lisa on 12 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Tim Duckenfield

      Tim Duckenfield answered on 12 Mar 2018:

      There is absolutely no problem with being religious and being a scientist, and in some cases works as a good motivator! Religion asks different questions than science, it questions the intangible and the ethical – science might say what we CAN do, but religious opinion is important in saying what we SHOULD do.

      The problem happens when people choose to ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs – this is very unscientific! Some people ignore fossil evidence because they believe the Earth is much younger than it really is, for example. There are cases when science and religion help each other – historically many places of science were also places of religion. And the Big Bang theory was first put forward by a priest – Georges Lemaître! Today we think this theory is correct not because some divine power says so, but because there is scientific evidence for it that anybody can measure.

    • Photo: Sammie Buzzard

      Sammie Buzzard answered on 12 Mar 2018:

      It can be very tough for people if things like ice cores or fossils (as Tim says) contradict what they have grown up believing, but most scientists I know cope just fine and the scientific evidence comes first. Many are of the opinion that if you’re working in climate science then we’re trying to help the planet so that fits in very well with their beliefs and can motivate them to keep going!