This was the subject of discussion at my school recently. Given that the program was organized by a Christian Organization, there was no voice from the atheistic perspective.
The first speaker went on for quite some time reading the Genesis, pointing out the scientifically accurate assertions in it “even though the Bible was three thousand years old”, given that these facts were proved to be true only by recent scientific progress.
Was he trying to prove that given this match, there is no conflict between religion and science? Was he trying to prove that since there are scientifically accurate statements unknown to men when the Bible was written, it was really from God?
He failed in trying to prove either of these in part because he overlooked the scientifically questionable statements in the first few lines themselves.
They did point out how scientific “facts” change with time, and the Bible could not always be held to their standards, and how many aspects of “science” actually involved believing in things that haven’t been proven conclusively, which makes it not very different from a belief in religion.
What was their take on the Theory of Evolution? Did we evolve from monkeys? It surprised me when they asserted (they were Orthodox) that there isn’t necessarily a clash between religion and the theory of evolution. One student protested: “I can’t believe in a God who cannot create something perfectly, the way it should be, straightaway, and needs a gradual improvement”.
“I believe that God can create perfect beings straightaway, but He chose not to”, one of the speakers replied, which I thought was a weak argument. Weak because it would imply that humans were also evolved from a more primitive form on Earth, which clashes with one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity – that the perfect and complete human form (Adam and Eve) was in paradise – before “The Fall” – before they were expelled to this world as complete humans.
I did put this question up at the event, and essentially, like on many other questions, the answer we received ranged from “This is a tough one” to “It is belief, really”. A dead-end to all debates, because there is not much that can be said after something is “a belief”. You just believe in it. One of the speakers ended up accepting that there would be a conflict here and that there is a need of dialogue – he nodded his head when I asked him if this meant that he agrees that science and religion are two different streams.
A recent quote by Reza Aslan came to mind: “You have to understand that Islam and Judaism are legalistic religions, Christianity is a creedal religion. Christianity is all about belief, right? In fact, if you are a Catholic that creedal formulation is a complex formula, “I believe in God the Father maker of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus His only begotten son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Apostolic Church, etc. etc.”