Martin Luther King, Jr., on science and religion

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From “Lesser Known Wise and Prophetic Words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by liberal writer and California Democratic Party delegate, Deborah White:

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.

The two are not rivals. They are complementary.

Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

Photo credit: Library of Congress, believed to be in the public domain


As is pointed out to me annually, this quote is an adaptation of text from Rabbi Hillel Silver, 1930, in ‘Religion in a Changing World’ (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1930). That passage can be found here. However, the incomparable Tom Levenson articulated last year that King diverged from Silver. Levenson wrote that opposed to Silver, King held that science and religion have important points of connection: “But King did not follow Silver down the road of intellectual apartheid, an agreement to reserve certain matters for the exclusive authority of one side or other.”


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