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Ask Dr. Robert Bakker About Dinosaurs and Merging Science and Religion 528

With his trademark hat and beard, Dr. Robert Bakker is one of the most recognized paleontologists working today. Bakker was among the advisers for the movie Jurassic Park, and the character Dr. Robert Burke in the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park is based on him. He was one of the first to put forth the idea that some dinosaurs had feathers and were warm-blooded, and is credited with initiating the ongoing "dinosaur renaissance" in paleontology. Bakker is currently the curator of paleontology for the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Director of the Morrison Natural History Museum in Colorado. He is also a Christian minister, who contends that there is no real conflict between religion and science, citing the writings and views of Saint Augustine as a guide on melding the two. Dr. Bakker has agreed to take some time from his writing and digging in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Ask Dr. Robert Bakker About Dinosaurs and Merging Science and Religion

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  • by Jonner ( 189691 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:49PM (#42799797)

    Christianity is very species centric. That is, according to Christian beliefs humans are allegedly the center of the universe and a focus of God's concern. With the modern realization that humans and the earth are not at the center of anything how does a Christian handle the obvious species centricity of Christianity.

    We don't know of any other sentient species yet. If we meet some, we might find that God had a very different way of revealing himself and interacting with them. Read Out of the Silent Planet [] and Perelandra [] for a Science Fiction take on this idea. Keep in mind that they were written a long time ago, so their portrayals of Mars and Venus, the planets they are supposed to take place on don't match what we know now very well.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:53PM (#42800687)

    Science is the process of understanding, or at least generating workable knowledge, through observation, theorizing, and testing. The process of science is antithetical to faith since it requires that you test everything.

    No. The scientific method was established in the west by medieval bishops. In more recent times the Catholic church has stated that scientific discoveries are not in conflict with faith, this includes evolution. Various other Christian churches hold similar beliefs. Basically that faith addresses areas that are beyond human observation and discovery, the intentions and expectations of God.

  • by Creedo ( 548980 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:26PM (#42801069) Journal
    This isn't true. Or, at least, it is not the whole story. The Catholic church certainly holds certain beliefs as foundational, regardless of the scientific merit. One of the major ones would be the belief that all of human kind was decended from a single man and woman(Catechism of the Catholic Church 390). They also declare certain events as bona fide miracles, regardless of the relative merits of the claims.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:48PM (#42801357)
    The Catechism you reference explicitly says that genesis uses figurative language. The difference between science and faith seems to only be with respect to a "soul" not the material body.

    "390 The account of the fall in Genesis uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents." []

    "Theistic evolution or evolutionary creation is a concept that asserts that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. In short, theistic evolutionists believe that there is a God, that God is the creator of the material universe and (by consequence) all life within, and that biological evolution is simply a natural process within that creation. Evolution, according to this view, is simply a tool that God employed to develop human life.
    Papal pronouncements, along with commentaries by cardinals, indicate that the Church is aware of the general findings of scientists on the gradual appearance of life. Indeed, Belgian priest Georges Lemaître, astronomer and physics professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, was the first to propose the theory of expansion of the universe, often incorrectly credited to Edwin Hubble. Under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the International Theological Commission published a paper accepting the big bang of 15 billion years ago and the evolution of all life including humans from the microorganisms that formed approximately 4 billion years ago. The Vatican has no official teaching on this matter except for the special creation of the human soul" []

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