Two kinds of human needs


As far as I can tell, Reverend Ricky doesn't seem to archive his sermons on his web site, so I can only link to his newest sermon, which in this case pertains to Evolution Weekend. Because I can only link to his latest sermon, that means that this link will presumably point to a completely different sermon in the near future. In any case, in his most recent sermon, he addresses, among other things, the respective roles of science and religion.

He argues that science and religion were invented to satisfy two human needs, respectively: the human need for understanding, and the human need for meaning:

As we move through the world we’re constantly looking to satisfy both of those needs. We want to understand what and how, but we also want to know why and what for?

Science only gives us half of the picture. And people who give too much honor to science sometimes end up concluding the universe is meaningless and purposeless and random and uncaring, because that’s the way science portrays it. It’s easy to forget that science describes the universe the way it does because that’s the only vocabulary science has. Science has nothing to say about meaning and purpose, but it’s silence should not be read as denial. It’s not just no comment, it’s that science can’t even hear the question. The randomness of evolution doesn’t mean that the universe is random, only that if there is a purpose behind evolution it’s beyond the scope of science ever to reveal. Science itself doesn’t say that meaning and values and goals and caring are an illusion, only that science doesn’t have a way of investigating those.

Religion is a help with those topics, and thank God, because we need those things in our lives. But religion, too is only half the picture. The tools by which mystics intuit the nature of ultimate reality are not very efficient as tools for understanding mundane reality. And the general, abstract, metaphorical, symbolic language that religions use in order to describe divine purpose and aims, should never be confused with a literal description of the way things are and came to be. When God created human beings and called us good, that says a lot of important religious truths about the importance of using our lives in a human divine partnership moving our world toward holy goals. It shouldn’t be read as a God in the shape of a human being make a little model of itself out of clay and being pleased with the result.