Relationship between science and religion
Table of Content
- 1 Relationship between science and religion
- 2 Overview
- 3 What kind of enterprise is science?
- 4 What kind of enterprise is religion?
- 5 Can the potential for conflict between science and religion be overcome?
- 6 Is the problem practical or theoretical?
- 7 Possible Counter Arguments
- 8 References
Science and religion are two different domains of knowledge and contrast with each other in various manners because of their different standing points. In other words, it would not be wrong to say that both science and religion have been one of the controversial and critical subject matters, especially when it comes to dealing with the problem of origin that is creationism as well as evolution.
However, historically, the relationship between science and religion is complementary to each other, implying the fact that there is a dynamic relationship between both spheres of knowledge. However, in the past and modern life today as well, both science and religion attempted to answer various series of questions. And, therefore, they both have been identified as two significant sources of knowledge, functioning apart from each other (Sanda 2017).
What kind of enterprise is science?
The notion of science is commonly referred to as an understanding of the natural world of affairs by a humanistic approach involving scientific inquiry and tools to prove the validity or invalidity of an achieved form of knowledge. Before the 19th century, many people practiced natural philosophy, which sought to study the natural world, and natural theology, which attempted to use the natural world to learn more about God.
Natural philosophy eventually gave rise to physics and science according to its modern definition. It is worth noting that various branches of science have significant differences in their methods, e.g., physicists and chemists can perform controlled experiments. At the same time, astronomers and paleontologists must rely on observations.
Besides, science seeks to explain the natural world. There is some difference between the definitions of hypothesis, theory, and law, but in general, assumptions are testable statements of a narrow topic. Approaches entail several predictions that are (and have been) tested and have never been disproven (Gamwell 2015).
For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity predicted the bending of light as it passes by a massive object; the bending was experimentally verified years later precisely as anticipated. The term “law” is rarely used for new explanations, perhaps because of the fear that they will be disproved. We speak of Newton’s laws and Einstein’s theory of relativity even though they explain the same things. To some degree, natural laws are more mathematical than theories. Regardless, a scientific approach describes a convincing explanation rather than a guess.
What kind of enterprise is religion?
The Protestant Reformation and increased exposure of Europeans to other religions led believers to justify their belief as to the true one. Since science didn’t receive its current definition until the 19th century, religion and science technically couldn’t have conflicted with the latter date. Religion is probably harder to define than science if one takes into account all religions. The supernatural power may be God or gods or forces that act on humans (as in Buddhism). The institution includes churches and the Church universal as well as religious leaders and the power and influence they exert.
The practices associated with religion serve to unite believers in the community, to educate them, and to change their lives in positive ways. The institutions help to inform leaders and provide resources to make a difference in individual believers, in the community, and the world. Religion seeks answers though most believers hold that the answers cannot be known (at least in this world) by mortals. The importance is in the striving toward the solutions rather than the answers themselves (Sanda 2017).
Potential Conflicts for science and religion
Both science and religion work in separate domains. They both try to find the truth according to different claims of needs. NOMA clearly claims that the conflict between science and religion is just because of the lack of overlap between their respective domains of professional expertise. Also, according to NOMA, science is empirical constitutions of the universe. This implies the fact that science works with the aim to get knowledge and truth about the universe and all that comprises in it as well.
While, on the other hand, as NOMA claimed, religion is the search for ethical values and the spiritual meanings of our lives. Now, over this claim, it would not be wrong to say that domains of science and religion are different. Science is all about knowing the world works, but religion is about why human beings have been existing in this world and what the purpose behind human creation is. Also, religion focuses on the way of searching knowledge about ethical values over which humans become different than other living creations of the world and due to which humans have a high level of morality within their individual as well as collective selves.
Therefore, science is a different domain than religion, as science is about factual claims that are physical as Dawkins also point that religion is part of the scientific field as religion focuses on many factual allegations like the virgin birth. However, focusing on physical or factual claims is no doubt experimental in nature, but focusing on the spirituality and morality deeply embedded within the factual claims is the responsibility of religion and religion only. Therefore, science and religion are different domains, and they both focus on various forms of knowledge. Therefore, there has always been a conflicting situation whether to count religion as part of the scientific knowledge or not.
Moreover, through watching the video about monkey trial, for example, it becomes clearer that historically science and religion conflict with each other just because they both hold different claims regarding the same point of view. Religion always regarded a factual thing or reality as a will of God, but science always tried to search for the evidence behind and that is a difference that creates a conflict between science and religion.
Also, the conflict between science and religion is due to their limitations, as science is limited in nature and religion is not. Therefore, we should review disagreement between religion and science as destructive factors in human knowledge and human life, as a different point of views always lead towards chaos and various sources of knowledge and, thus, people of different minds and thoughts (Draper 1875).
Can the potential for conflict between science and religion be overcome?
Science is more likely to find a conclusion, implying the fact that scientific knowledge is either perfect or utterly objective because reaching an end-point of factual reality is to deciding over a point. In other words, almost all scientific claims have concluded, and this also implies the fact that either scientific knowledge lack essential tools to go beyond the reality of something or that scientific knowledge is not complete.
While, on the other hand, it would also not be wrong to claim that the disagreement between science and religion is destructive factors for human life and knowledge. If we deal with a different point of view, while focusing on many various sources of knowledge, then it is not possible to discuss a fact under two different domains. Doing so only leads towards the conflict of interest and not a constructive way of thinking and deciding about various facts and figures of human life.
When it comes to science, the primary purpose of scientific research is to find the validity and truthfulness of objective reality. In this regard, it would be fine to say that the objective truth is not always accurate and valid in all conditions and all-time because objectivity changes and therefore, not reliable.
While, on the other hand, religion is the quest for the subjective truth that is not for an individual. Scientific search is for all members of a society over which people form their collective point of view regarding a fact. Therefore, science and religion are different domains and involve various sources and purposes behind collecting knowledge about different events and figures of life, and, hence, the potential for conflict between science and religion cannot be overcome (Orme-Johnson 2008).
Is the problem practical or theoretical?
After discussing both science and religion and the potential for conflict between these two fields of knowledge, it becomes more apparent that the problem between both is practical as well as theoretical. Science deals with practical procedures to find the truth, as an end. While, on the other hand, religion poses a theoretical problem that is solely based on faith and theoretical claim about the idea of the existence of God. Therefore, there is no such relationship between science and religion and they both cannot coexist as well.
Possible Counter Arguments
The only possible counter-argument to my position, as discussed above, is that both science and religion finds factual reality and the not fictional one, and, therefore, they both deal with the same issue. My answer to this counter-argument is that no doubt, both science and religion are more likely to deal with factual truth, but it does not imply the fact that attainment of the factual truth is always supported by a piece of evidence as science ever intended to do so to claim the validity of factual reality.
For example, there is no need to prove the existence of God just because God is itself a proof of His reality and we can observe it clearly as William Paley’s design argument over which he tried to claim that God is the perfect designer. In contrast, he attempted to use an analogy between the design of a watch and organisms. Many scientists, along with various philosophers have rejected this claim over which they all have concluded that using an analogy to prove the existence of God is false, as God can create things. Still, watches cannot do so and vice versa.
In conclusion, it would not be wrong to say that there is no such relationship between both science and religion and that they both operate in different spheres of knowledge. Science is more practical, and religion is theoretical. Science needs evidence to prove the existence and importance of something existing. Whereas, religion does not require any practical way to claim but a faith. Science uses reasons and other senses to prove the validity or invalidity of its claims and personal in nature and, therefore, counts towards objective realities. While, on the other hand, religion uses wisdom, virtue, ethics, and moral traits and subjective. No scientific claim is valid in all conditions and in all time and space, but religion has its truthfulness collectively (Draper 1875).
Draper, John William. 1875. History of the conflict between religion and science. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
Gamwell, Franklin, By Ángela Iranzo Dosdad, and Carlos Manrique. 2015. “Rethinking the relation between science and religion: some epistemological and political implications.” Revista de Estudios Sociales 51 258-266.
Orme-Johnson, McGhee C. 2008. “Finding Connections Between Religion and Science.” Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Sanda, Dragos, Luana Smarandoiu, and Costea Munteanu. 2017. “The Dialogue between Science and Religion: A Taxonomic Contribution.” Religions 8, no. 3 35.