What difference would it make?
With regard as to the future and success of the Science-Religion dialogue, I would submit the following:. No matter what our personal faiths and convictions are, we cannot ignore the following historically incontrovertible facts:
1. Every religious system in the world has enriched countless human beings, uplifted their perspectives, consoled them in times of stress, brought them joy, created great art and music and poetry, and added meaning and relevance to the mystery of human experience.
2. Pracitioners of (practically) every religious system have, in the name of their particular religion, and sincerely believing to be acting in its behalf and for its well-being, have engaged in harsh and hurtful acts, bloody battles, and even massacres.
3. The explanations of many natural phenomena, as presented in many time-honored scriptures, are in blatant contradiction to what modern scientific methodology seems to have unraveled by collective, self-correcting, and careful studies of the world.
4. The rise and development of modern science during the past four and odd centuries have expanded human horizons and understanding in immeasurable ways, lessened and eliminated many needless fears and absurdities that were (and still are) more rampant in scientifically unawakened societies. Science has also contributed immensely to humanity’s material comforts and well-being, and ushered in values and perspective that are more universal and just.
5. The rise of science and consequent technology has also resulted in spiritual anguish and emptiness, and complex social, moral, and psychological ills: problems which did not exist or which could (can) be solved in (perhaps only in) a religious framework.
6. Recognizing thus that both religion and science have much to offer to the human condition, while both have also had harmful and undesirable effects in past centuries, we now have an opportunity to recognize and incorporate the best in both these rich potentials of the human spirit for the benefit and enrichment of humanity. That is what. I would hope, the science-religion dialogues will offer the decades to come.
7. For this, however, three conditions are necessary:
(a) We must distinguish between two aspects of religion: First, there is the restricted/historical/denominational aspect, which is a very important. powerful, and valuable cultural force, many of whose manifestations may be maintained for the continuity and psycho-social well being and comfort of a people or a group. Then, there is the deeper and intensely personal spiritual dimensional of religions which transcend denominational boundaries, even if they have local models and modes of expression. This “communion” with the beyond which all religions offer in their different ways may be explored from scientific perspectives, but its intrinsic value and significance extends beyond rational and collective-empirical constraints. Science-religion dialogues are likely to become richer and more universal when they explore the religious experience in a non-denominational framework. I am inclined to think that this is where the great successes of our dialogues will turn out to be in the long run.
(b) We must distinguish between the rational: that which is subject to scientific analysis; the irrational: that which goes blatantly against logic and reason; and the transrational: that which goes beyond reason and analysis, but which adds immense meaning and relevance to an individual. Thus far, the scientific establishment has not been able to make a distinction between the irrational and the transrational. Science needs to recognize the validity of the transrational as an important non-nonsense dimension of the human brain (or spirit). It is here that the science-religion dialogue holds great promise
(c) Protagonists of religion as well as of science must be clear in their minds and humble in their stances in recognizing and acknowledging the role, limits, relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of science and religion when they enter into a dialogue.