Is Science a Religion
Is Science a Religion
Is science a religion? This topic has been debated by many creationists and scientists alike. The philosophy of science makes no claims to knowledge about the supernatural or metaphysical and, by not so doing, is left with an enterprise that although hugely successful is also permanently on trial (Manne, 2010). The only thing scientists can agree upon is the empirical nature of science, but the steps from observations to theory are not without philosophical problems. DISCUSSION Thomas Kuhn thinks that scientific paradigms are essentially pictures of the world that are consistent with observations and logically coherent.
But such pictures are necessarily always incomplete, at least until such time as we know everything, and our minds seem to struggle to accept this; it seems like there is an aesthetic compulsion to create harmonious images, even if that means filling in the spaces with metaphysical constructs. Andrew Brown states that the dictionary is wrong; science can be a religion too. He explains that if you strictly use the dictionary definition of science then it cannot be considered a religion, but if you look at science objectively you can see how it could be considered one.
He makes a strong argument that religion has too many definitions for science to not be considered one. Richard Dawkins believes the opposite. He states that science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its main virtue. Dawkins makes a good argument for science not being a religion. He even goes so far as to reconsider his stance only if science can get as much education time as religion does. Dawkins’ Atheist views are widely known but there are many more scientists that believe religion has no place in the world.
Michael Ruse, on the other hand, asks why religion is not being taught in public schools while science is. His argument is that if “God exists” is a religious claim, why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim? And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught? I am sure Dawkins was referring to Sunday school and bible study when he referred to science getting as much education time as science, but Ruse has a valid point.
Science is taught in schools due to separation of church and state, therefore everyone has to learn science. Sunday school is voluntary. Peter Harrison demonstrated how the role of religion in the rise of modern science often focused on the way in which religion motivated particular individuals, or provided the essential content of approaches to nature. These relate to the origins of science and assume that, once established, modern science becomes self-justifying. However, seventeenth century criticisms of science, such as attacks on the Royal Society, suggest that science remained unimportant for quite some time.
The rise of science to cultural importance in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was possible only because science was eventually able to establish itself as religiously useful initiative. Religion played a key role not only in the origins of modern science, but in providing the ongoing social sanctions that ensured its persistence and rise to prominence. This is a concept I am sure Dawkins would not appreciate, yet it has merit. The relationship between Science and Religion can be explained from two discrete points of view.
Some would argue that scientific explanations are the only means of explaining our existence, while others would argue that religion and the story of creation provide a sufficient amount of the world’s conception. Religion and science both have the same basis, which are truth and understanding. It is this similarity that allows a direct link between science and religion. I believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove that science and religion are compatible. Albert Einstein had the same opinion when he presented the idea of the nature of light that was argued for hundreds of years.
Scientology is also a proven example of compatibility between religion and science. Also, when looking at the two from a more general point of view, it would be obvious to say that they can both work together to give us a better understanding of the universe. In the early 1700’s, a constructive debate on the true nature of light led to various arguments and theories. The “corpuscular” theory, which was more religious based, depicted light being tiny particles that were transferred from a source like the Sun to a destination.
A more scientific theory suggested that light was a wave phenomenon where the energy was carried by a wave motion and not by movement of actual particles. In the early 1900’s, Albert Einstein discovered that light was both a wave and it was composed of tiny particles. He felt that both sides were right all along and both contributed to finding out the true nature of light. With this discovery, he felt that there was a strong link between science and religion. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” (Einstein, A).
Saying this, he believed strongly in the fact that religion and science were compatible. He believed that religion was a byproduct of fear and a tool to help the primitive human mind deal with it. He believed that many leaders and rulers incorporated religion into their daily functions to secure their rule. The question “is science a religion? ” still remains. The problem may lie in how science and religion differentiate in their distinct methodologies of searching for knowledge and belief.
Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, it attempts to collect accurate information about the shared reality and to model it in a way that can be used to make reliable. They have concrete and quantitative predictions about events; everything has a hypothesis and has reasons to prove it. Science gains their knowledge through scientific method: testing hypotheses to develop theories through elucidation of facts or evaluation by experiments. It develops theories of the world which best fit the observed physical observed evidence.
It can be categorized into two major types of sciences: human science and natural science and they rely mainly on empirical evidence. Religion is a set of beliefs and is related to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. Theologians believe in the omnipotent power that God has, they put faith on God and use religion as a tool to satisfy their unanswerable questions and desire to know. Some religious people maintain that religious knowledge is absolute and infallible.
However, the knowledge each person believes in varies as religious knowledge varies from religion and each individual. Science tends to be more tangible while religion is more imperceptible according to senses. There is domestic danger in being a world religious leader and technological powerhouse. Religious commitment and leadership in science and technology greatly enlarges the potential for conflict between faith and science in the United States. The relationship between religion and views of science should be of interest not just to scientists and social scientists concerned with public opinion research, but to policy makers as well.
Public opinion has significant impact upon the making of public policy. Commonly held perceptions about particular scientific findings could help determine the eventual shape of laws and other policies for issues such as abortion or climate change (Keeter, 2007). Tradition has taught mankind that religion and science are two competing theories that can never be intermixed. Science and religion put forth competing theories on how the world was created, who is responsible for such creation, and what happens to individuals when they die.
Further, science proposes solutions for many of society’s problems that many religions clearly define as wrong, such as abortion, stem cell research, and cloning. Early scientists and philosophers integrated science and religion to explain the course and state of the cosmos. For instance, Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, and Newton all asserted that mathematical relations, the foundation of science, were a product of God. According to the four, it was God who invented mathematics and then imposed mathematical laws on the universe to back them up.
More than 100 years ago, William James remarked, “I do not see why a critical science of religions might not eventually command as general a public adhesion as is commanded by a physical science”. In James view, studying religion by way of science could shed more light on the issue than philosophy alone. James believed that philosophy fell short in that it failed to “capture the depth, motion, and vitality of religion”. By focusing on religion from a scientific point of view, researchers could better determine the concreteness of the religious experience.
So, is science a religion? The answer is – it depends on who you ask. There is no concrete evidence to prove that it is or isn’t. I tend to believe that it could be. People like Richard Dawkins say emphatically no, yet he has blind faith that “what science cannot explain today, it will be able to explain tomorrow” (McGrath, pg. 148). Some have even gone so far as to compare Dawkins’ “infatuation” with Darwin with the Christian’s worship of Jesus Christ. I have not read anything that proves this but it could be another example of how science can be viewed as a religion. Either way, it seems that some level of faith is required for both and we can learn a lot from each one.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 October 2016
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