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The Link Between Science and Religion

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If science had the facts to prove all religions to be false, would people still believe? Does there have to be truth and facts behind every religion? Is truth a vital and necessary part of every religion? The answer to all of those questions is no. “Without risk there is no faith…If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I do not cannot do this I must believe.” (Objective and Subjective Reflection, Soren Kierkegaard).

Some say that religion is a part of human nature, and the same can be said about questioning religion. Non-believers, whether scientists or not, may believe that “…science and learning will banish religion” with religion being “…no more than a tissue of illusions” (E. O. Wilson, On Human Nature, page 1). In a way they believe that facts will trump what one may feel in their heart or spirit. Although for some that may be true, others are content with their beliefs regardless of the facts they learn. Before science gained the knowledge it has today, people were fine with their beliefs and their way of life. Are the two not able to co-exist?

They also forget about the relativity of truth. Usually the truth is black and white; either it is true or it is not. In relations to something like religion, it is more complicated because what is true to one may not be true to another. For example, In Christianity, Jesus is believed to have been the Messiah. That is a Christian’s truth. Yet to others this is not the case; Judaism, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was not the Messiah. Therefore, the truth is relative in relation to religion.

On another note, the facts science brings can make a believer’s faith stronger. For example, when scientists discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, and was famous for performing miracles. Surely believers were ecstatic about that. Or when it was discovered that the great flood in the story of Noah’s Ark did happen. Findings like these do the exact opposite of “banishing religion”.

Although, just as science can aid in the strengthening of religion, it can also bring clarity to things that don’t make sense. The book of Genesis has always been a very important to the science vs. religion argument. Jeff Randall explains:

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

“On day three we see that land has been created, and plant life has arisen on this land. This despite the fact that plant life as it exists on earth requires energy, which comes from the sun.”

The atmosphere was created after the Earth, plants were created before the sun, and the earth was created six-thousand years ago. We all know that the Earth is over three billion years old. Even if one is a Christian, they would have to admit that it doesn’t make sense. So after this information was brought to light, did Christians lose their faith? Not at all. Religion doesn’t need truth behind it for people to believe. Christianity is not only a religion, but an institution that controlled some of the most historical countries known to man. It would take a lot more than that to banish it, as can be said of all religions deep rooted in society.

For a religion to be popular, or widely practiced, science is not needed to back it up at all. Religions that were created by works of fiction are a perfect example. A few that have become extremely popular in the past twenty plus years are Jediism, The Elvin, and Church of All Worlds.

Firstly, Jediism did of course come from the famous movie series Star Wars. Although they like to separate themselves from it. Unlike the big three religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the beliefs of Jedi’s would not have to worry about whether science could prove them wrong. They do not believe in cruelty, or discrimination, they believe in exploring your spirituality, expression, and self-determination. Do they believe they can move objects with their minds? No it is a bigger picture than that. Jediism’s popularity is fast growing. Secondly, The Elvin, they “…share a belief that they are the reincarnated souls of beings commonly found in one of Tolkien’s works of fiction: elves and dragons and the like. They speak of “the Yearning,” in which there is a pervasive feeling that they are not of this world and belong someplace else.” (10 Religions Spawned by Works of Fiction). Lastly, the Church of All Worlds. Their mission is to “evolve a network of information, mythology, and experience that provides a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaia and reuniting Her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the evolution of consciousness” (10 Religions Spawned By Works Of Fiction).Can scientists prove that the practices or beliefs of these religions are false. It is not likely they can.

“Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world…Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities” (National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine). One may question why scientists seem to have such an agenda towards religion. It seems that they cannot accept that people can believe in something that they have no proof of, something that they cannot explain, something that feel in their soul or heart and not feeling the need for an explanation for it. The definition of a scientist is “studying or has an expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences” (Google). Of course they would want to analyze a (supernatural) subject like religion.

It is definitely human nature to have questions about life and why Earth, plants, animals, and mankind have been able to progress as they have. Yet is it impossible for religion and science to co-exist? It could, if people respected other’s beliefs and did not try to discredit others for their way of life. For example, when evolution was starting to become a part of basic curriculum in many public schools, many religious people had major issues with that. Their children had been taught that God created man separate from animals, not that mankind came from primates. That was their truth. They did not want their children to be exposed to any other explanation. As if believers were afraid of “the truth” presented by science. Peter M. J. Hess notes:

“These are complex issues, and deserve thoughtful consideration before a decision is made. Theologians, clergy, scientists, and others belonging to many religious traditions have concluded that their religious views are compatible with evolution, and are even enhanced by the knowledge of nature that science provides. Just as vigorously, other theologians, clergy, and members of other religious traditions reject evolution as contradictory to and thus incompatible with their faith positions. And some non-believers argue that the methodology and findings of science are philosophically incompatible with any meaningful form of faith. Passions often run high on all sides.”

The solution to this issue is accepting that science and religion can run hand-in-hand. Many findings in science are compatible with the stories of some religions. Science can tell us how, but they cannot tell us why, and many scientists practice religion, they do not have to be separate. One can be religious and recognize that science is vital to our understanding, and one can be a scientist, with expert knowledge and all, and still be religious. Joseph Campbell stated: “… half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result, we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.” (Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor). It is not a questions of who is right and who is wrong. Science and religion can co-exist by helping each other, or by staying separate.

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