Science, Now + Beyond

Are science and religion really that different?

It's the question scientists and priests are still fighting over, hundreds of years later.

“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war” – Francis Collins

We all know there are both religious and nonreligious people who say religion is incompatible with science. We are told the two do not measure up in documentation and perspective, especially on topics such as evolution. Richard Dawkins, one of the most popular evolutionary biologists of today, is well known for his criticisms of religion, specifically Creationism, with science as his evidence. On the other hand, religious leaders preach about the hand of God structuring the world as we know it, arguing against certain aspects of science. These countering beliefs go so far as to encroach onto education: there is a constant battle of Creationism vs Evolution in the classroom.

Regardless of your identity or worldview, it is hard to deny that religion actually can be compatible with science and vice versa.

I have mentioned in a past article that I identify as a Nondenominational Christian, but that doesn’t dissuade my belief in how religion and science go hand in hand. And this is applicable to all religious identities, not just my own. And I hope those who identify as nonreligious can appreciate this as well.

Science is able to display proof of the human experience and its conditions through empirical data and observation. Religion serves the same purpose: proof of the human experience, through the oral and written traditions of prophets and other religious leaders. The scholarship of science’s results of nature and the scholarship of religion’s poetry and historical relevance proves their necessity in witnessing the always complex human condition. We are continuously evolving, and a person’s faith and knowledge of biology shows that; in fact, scientists and theologians regularly talk about their awe of humanity through evolution.

Religious scriptures have some of the most fascinating stories on the world’s creation, miracles, and the afterlife. Science plays a role in that because its provision of answers of how the world biologically functions, new medical phenomena, and even how the afterlife may play a role in out-of-body experiences. It’s not that science would be questioning a deity’s authority, but actually make a deity look cooler beyond our imaginations and perceptions. In fact, many world religions share this appreciation for the natural world.

The Age of Enlightenment was born not only so science can challenge religious beliefs, it was also born so that science could help maintain religious beliefs. Some of the most important scientific discoveries were by religious scholars, such as Gregor Mendel (aka the father of modern genetics). Much later in time, Albert Einstein said that the more he studied science, the more he believed in God.

But science and religion share a commonality in trying to figure out how things work. For some, science serves as an alternate to religion –another means to explain the world around us, without a deity. For me, and others like me, science shows the physical intricacies of ourselves and what’s around us, while religion shows the spiritual intricacies of ourselves and what’s around us.

Both work well together, and both deserve equal respect. Rather than attempting to tear each side down, we should realize the similarities and work together to gain even more knowledge of the physical and spiritual world around us.