Religion’s conversation with Science

Overheard on a backwater planet:

· “The Bible is the literal word of God.”

· “All right… How does it start?”

· “6,000 years ago, God created the universe.”

· “Sorry old chap, don’t mean to contradict you, but the universe was created 14 billion years ago, as evidenced by the cosmic background radiation.”

· “Right… but the universe was a formless void before. On what we call Day One, He made the Earth and created light, on Day Four the sun, moon and stars, on Day Six man. And He made everything for man.”

· “Again, no. Light was created instantly. Basically that radiation we were talking about. Stars formed around 200 million years after the creation of the universe, the sun formed only 4.5 billion years ago, along with the Earth and the moon (that’s 10 billion years after the universe). If you condense the time in the universe down to a year, humans only appeared in the last second before midnight—isn’t it highly unlikely that something so tiny and ephemeral that appeared so late in time is the reason for the universe?”

· “But the Earth on which man lives is the centre of the universe, around which rotates the sun, moon and stars.”

· “Erm… the moon rotates around the Earth, true, but the Earth rotates around the sun, and the stars are other suns that rotate around the galaxy. Our solar system is a tiny speck on the edge of a vast galaxy, itself a tiny speck in a sea of billions of galaxies. This is all observable with telescopes. If there is a centre of the universe, it’s not here.”

· “Okay… not all of God’s word is literal. Some of it is metaphorical.”

· “You’re moving the goalposts. Which bits are metaphorical?”

. “Now that I’m free to pick and choose… anything you can disprove, items that are outdated and thus irrelevant, and whatever I find difficult to obey as a modern human from a book that’s 1,800 years old.”

· “And which bits are literal?”

. “Whatever remains open to interpretation, and whatever confirms my prejudices.”

· “Come on, my friend. If you want to feel wonder, awe and mystery there’s plenty of that in the natural universe, without chaining yourself to an outmoded treatise on existence.”

. “Heretic, going against the literal word of God!”

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