Panelists explore bond between science, religion

Preethi Srikanth

The intersection between science and religion creates ample fodder for fiery debate, but two religious leaders at a panel Thursday shared a more moderate view with students.

The Islamic Dialogue Student Association hosted a panel Thursday night with Lynn Mitchell, clinical professor and chair of Religious Studies at the University of Houston, and Zubeyir Safak, imam of the San Antonio Citadel Foundation.

Though from different religious backgrounds, both shared a positive view on the relationship between science and religion.

Mitchell, who is a Christian theologian, said from the perspective of Christianity, science is based in religion.

“There was never a fight between science and the Bible,” he said. “It’s more of the struggles between Christians about how they deal with scientific discovery.”

He discussed his book, “The Bible and Science,” in which he cites philosophers and scientists of the past such as St. Augustine, Galileo and Darwin and stated that they were men of both religion and science.

“Galileo and Darwin were not atheists, but intelligent men who found things contrary to what other Christians thought,” he said. “The Church accepted Galileo’s studies shortly after his death, and recently the Pope even approved of certain kinds of religious-based evolution being taught in Catholic schools.”

Islam’s beliefs line up closely with Christianity’s, said Safak, who has led many interfaith discussions at the San Antonio Citadel Foundation.

“Like the Bible, the Qur’an is not a book of science, but of guidance,” he said. “That stated, there should be a moral understanding behind any human action, research included.”

Safak also said science and religion are essentially related, and many Muslims in the past as well as today are scientists.

“Science and religion are like twins,” he said. “If what you study is God’s work, how can you exclude God from it?”

The discussion ended with a consensus that science and religion are intertwined. Both the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual perfection can be found in people of intelligence, such as scientists.

Religious studies junior David Saucedo said the panel was informative and found himself largely agreeing.

“I’m a Christian, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can,” Saucedo said. “Both the speakers discussed the role of science in religion really well, and gave an informed perspective about it.”