23 Jan 2020

Date: 2015-03-18
Words: 767

One of my pet peeves is the continual battle between science and religion. Good science and good religion should coexist. Science is about the continual exploration of the universe according to the rules of hypothesis, test, adjust hypothesis. Religion is about accepting the unknowable while improving the self according to inherited rules. Religion accepts the unknowable as a moving target, however, it names that unknowable God. Religion believes that the unknown has an influence in the world as we know it. Science is usually trying to describe the influence and subsume it to some grand theory.

But once a part of the unknown become known then it is no longer in the realm of God. Knowing and describing something does no diminish God. God is unknowable and infinite. So just as there can be no end to God there can be no end to Science.

Science by its nature strives towards the rational and attempts to make no emotional judgment. Religion is concerned with the relationship between the individual and the unknowable. If science is about observation tempered by intellect religion is about relationship tempered by emotion. The rules of science are monitored by present observation while the rules of religion are monitored by past observation. Science stands on proven hypotheses, religion stands on tradition. And just as there can be bad science so can there be bad religion.

Science is all about the present moving into the future. Religion is all about the present being molded by the past. Science relies on present revelations, religion relies on past revelations. Tradition is to religion what peer review is to science. Science explains what is going on. Religion explains how we should be going on. Science is impersonal, religion is personal. Science can investigate anything, religion investigates how we investigate. Science is non-judgmental, religion is judgmental.

If a scientist falsifies data Science will expel him, religion will attempt to modify his future behavior. Science is concerned with results religion is concerned with relationships. Good science can not forgive. Religion can always forgive.

If science is always testing the unknowable so that it can be determined what happens when everything is known. We instinctively shrink from that because it implies stagnation and boredom. The infinite unknown is what keeps us going. Without that faith, it would be hard to keep going. Science is not the enemy of religion and religion is not the enemy of science. No matter how appalling the science may seem the research will always be justified in terms of the greater good. The killing of laboratory animals is justified by the contribution their deaths make towards the health of humans. This justification is the realm of religion. Science at its core is dependent on religion. Religion is not dependent on science.

It is impossible to strip all justification from science. No matter how terrible the experiment there has to be a reason for it. Let’s imagine that we can destroy not just the planet but the entire universe. The obvious question is why and who would be around to record the result. That obvious question is the shadow of religion. Religion answers the ‘what’s the point?” question by looking back in time to when the unknown made itself manifest in the world. Science can only answer it by being self-referential; these are the laws of nature and the universe has to behave according to its own laws.

Religion would say that science can determine the laws but who created the laws. Religion always asks about ultimate creation. Science ignores ultimate creation. No matter how sophisticated our thoughts those thoughts are always limited, they are always an expression of who we are, when we are and where we are. Science can take us back to the moment after creation and answers what happened, religion takes us back to the moment of creation and answers the question, why it happened.

Science and religion must coexist. Science without religion addresses just the surface of the universe. It may tell us how gravity behaves the way it does, it cannot tell us why. Science is about the connection of things while religion is about the relationship of things. The two are not synonymous. In the end, we understand that there can be a science of religion but we reject the idea of the religion of science. For we intuitive understand that religion is about everything whereas science is about the how of everything. Science is forever arriving at the next station in the journey, religion makes sure that the train is in optimum working order. Enjoy the ride.

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