The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Biology prof argues for both ‘Faith and Reason’

Abigail Forney | Thursday, November 10, 2011

While science and religion often clash in today’s headlines, each has limitations that leave more than enough room for the other, biology professor Tom Fogle said at a lecture titled “Faith and Reason: A Quest for Intersections in a Modern Scientific World,” held at Saint Mary’s library Thursday.

“Science is unequipped to enter into the metaphysical world of religion,” Fogle said. “The Bible is not designed to be a science book.”

While evolution is perhaps the most hotly debated issue between the scientific and religious communities, Fogle does not see an inherent conflict between the explanations.

“They’re two different explanatory devices,” he said.

A teacher of genetics, Fogle focused much of the lecture on the discovery of DNA and eugenics, or what he called science’s attempt “to discover the blueprint of life.”

Fogle raised the case of Indiana in 1907, when it was the first of 31 states to legalize human sterilization to eliminate genes perceived as contributing to social ills.

“These scientists were not doing bad science ⎯ they were unaware of the limits of their analytic tools,” he said. “The interaction [between nature and nurture] is messy and hard to untangle. The more we know, the harder it is to untangle”

It is mistakes such as this, Fogle said, that make it important to be mindful of science’s limited explanatory power and to allow religion to enter the conversation.

“Biology is still a long way from thinking beyond,” he said. “Biology is discovering what the Bible has known all along.”

“Faith and Reason” is the latest installment in the Believing Scholars Series, sponsored by the Center for Spirituality.