And the reigning champion slides sideways in the ring, leaving his opponent looking flat footed. And then with some short jabs to the head the champ forces the challenger to lift his fists and so expose his body. Again the champ pivots in, even more gracefully, and lands deep body blows that leave the challenger hurt and struggling. But the challenger is unable to leave the ring. This is mortal combat and the gloves are off.
Am I describing the Australian Labor Party...well I could be... but I’m not. Rather, I’m describing a myth. The deep and pervasive myth, that science and religion, especially Christianity, are in a fight to the death. They are in the ring, there are no rules and only one can step out alive.
But as fun as this idea is, it just isn’t true. This is what one chap who knows a thing or two says,
‘The idea that science and religion are in perpetual conflict is no longer taken seriously by any major historian of science despite its popularity in the late 19th century. One of the last remaining bastions of atheism survives only at the popular level - namely, the myth that an atheistic, fact based science is permanently at war with a faith based religion.’
Twilight of Atheism by Alister McGrath
In short, the idea that Christianity and science are locked in mortal combat was false in the past and is false now. Though you will keep hearing this trumpeted in the popular but unthinking media.
So why did the idea of a conflict arise and why did it gain such prominence in the Western psyche? There was a power struggle (when is there not). The new and rising breed, the professional scientists, resented the power and prestige held by the amateur scientists of Victorian England, the clergy. One of the best ways to undermine their role and place, was to attack Christianity as being opposed to science. Never mind that much of the early science and scientific method was shaped by Christian thinkers.
Oh well, so much for our juicy story of mortal conflict. It is just another power struggle. But at least we can lay to rest the myth that scientists are purely objective and only concerned about the truth.