The short answer is ‘yes’, and those that deny this are simply, well, in denial. One (Science) attempts to explain phenomena based on observation, experiment and hypothesis testing. As we accumulate data and test our hypotheses, so the confidence in our explanations grows. The other (Religion) attempts to explain phenomena based on revealed knowledge. How anyone can have confidence in such ‘explanations’ (and I argue that statements about for instance origins derived from Religion are not explanations at all) when the knowledge upon which they are based can not be shown to be revealed in the first place is beyond my comprehension.
Scientists themselves are divided on the issue. On one side of the argument are the likes of skeptic-in-residence Michael Shermer who, while simultaneously fending off attacks on evolution by the religious, somehow finds a way to claim that they are compatible. Then there was the late Stephen J. Gould who came up with the concept known as non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), which puts forth the idea that science and religion involve domains which do not overlap. Ken Miller, author of Finding Darwin’s God and Just A Theory, would also be in this camp.
Then there are the nay-sayers (and I leave no doubt to my readers that I myself can be categorized as such) like PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne who see religion and science as utterly incompatible. And I think they’re right.
The idea that Science and Religion are compatible, embodied in NOMA, simply does not stand up to scrutiny. How can I say such a thing? Do science and religion not deal separately in material and spiritual matters?