In an editorial in the January 1964 issue of If, the always-intelligent Theodore Sturgeon weighed in on the so-called conflict between science and religion. His essay is in large part an attack on the "God of the gaps" fallacy, committed in differing ways by religious conservatives and overzealous atheists alike. Atheism, of course, has a high profile these days, and with it the concept of science "replacing" religion. 43 years later, these thoughts remain insightful—another prescient example of how ahead of his time Sturgeon was.
Sturgeon tells of a radio show on which he appeared alongside other prominent writers and editors. One listener called in with a question: "Don't you think... that to create life in the laboratory is to usurp God?" Sturgeon's reply, in the pages of an editorial in If, was thus:
"Answer: No. Man's hands are God's work; the work of man's hands is God's work. (I spoke—and speak—for myself, of course.) So much for the question and the questioner, but I'm glad he brought it up and equally glad to do likewise here.
"The recurring suggestion that there's some sort of Armageddon going on between Science and Religion is, I think, a straw man for bigots. That Science has at one time or another dealt certain kinds of Religion a heavy blow, I do not argue. I do believe, however, that what received the blow was this or that set of fixed convictions, and not Religion itself. And I think that the idea that Science and Religion must of necessity be opposed to one another is a throwback at least to the 19th Century—perhaps farther—and that to engage in this battle any more is equivalent to, and as quaint as, re-fighting the War of the Roses.
"It seems to me that this Armageddon notion springs from a concept which is more than a little insulting to both camps. Reduced to its simplest terms, it reads: Knowledge is Finite. The rationale would seem to be this: that only God can know everything and do everything. That the more man knows, the closer he gets to knowing it all, the more his science does, the closer it gets to doing it all; and that the end product would be an omniscient and omnipotent man who would usurp the place of an omniscient and omnipotent God.
"Now, if science proves anything at all, it is that both knowledge and power potentials are infinite. The ultimate in either can never be reached. For those who care to believe it, God already has this knowledge and potency. How then can there possibly be a conflict in the matter?
"Furthermore, science has demonstrated time and again, and will always demonstrate, that the production of solutions is the richest source of new problems. This too seems to be an infinite process. As the size of our body of knowledge grows, so does the size of the as-yet-unknown. And ever shall. Many churchmen can take this calmly in stride, regarding it (in which I concur) as a living manifestation of the greatness of this infinite Cause.
"I know personally a good many scientists. Being people, they present a cross-section of convictions and attitudes quite as varied as those of any people. In the area of religion, I have met scientists far more devout than I could ever want to be. I've met unmoved, habitual, Sunday-best churchgoers, backslid Orthodoxers; agnostics, atheists, and people who just don't care one way or another.
"There is no secret sect of guys with test-tubes out to destroy the temples. There are more anti-religionists outside Science than in it... and if God things about this at all, He probably feels that He made a cosmos quite roomy enough to contain them all."
From "The Day They Threw God At Me" by Theodore Sturgeon. If, January 1964, p. 4-6.