Religion vs. Science

Human beings have an innate desire to understand the world, and we have developed two contrasting worldviews as a way of satisfying this desire: religion and science.

Religion is a belief system which is based on the telling of parables and allegories in order to define a set of moral standings. Religion often invokes the idea that there is a god who watches over everything we do. This is a comforting idea, as humans are social animals and we like to feel that there is someone who stands behind us, giving us support in whatever way it is needed. Another common theme of religion is an afterlife, which gives comfort to those who are uncomfortable with their own mortality.

Science is often described as a belief system by those who do not understand science. Science is not a collection of facts for people to learn and believe. The body of information produced by science is merely that: a product, a side effect. The information is not fixed, and is frequency revised. Science, in reality, is a method. The scientific method is a strategy that has been perfected over many centuries, and is used by people to create models of the world we live in. The word “model” is an important concept: a model describes an idealised but crude view of some aspect of the world. The constructed model is not necessarily true, but it is the most accurate picture we can currently imagine based on the observed facts.

There is an in-built humbleness to the scientific method. Scientists know that any model can quickly be proved wrong by a newly observed fact, necessitating the construction of a new model, more accurate than the last. In contrast, religious scripture is fixed. The way that religions change is much slower, and tends to involve a re-interpretation of scripture, but not a change in the scripture per se.

It is my opinion that science offers a far more useful approach to understanding our world. That is not to say religion is not useful: it offers help and comfort to those who need it. But only in science do we find the tools that we need for comprehension of our world and advancement of civilisation.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Religion vs. Science

  1. Hi Jack.
    In the end, I think “versus” is the problem here. Religion and Science (each at their simple core) are essential for Humankind.
    Paul Baylis was enthusing about Pi the other night, and I realised I had to look up just what Pi is. True to form, I instantly couldn’t grasp what all the numbers were on about and was about to switch off, until I read the line “you can’t square a circle”. And universally, we shouldn’t need to. The Square versus The Circle. I’m sure, as a scientist, you agree they both need to exist and the idea of existence without one of them would be unthinkable.
    I think Religion and Science need to listen to one another more and stop trying to stamp the other out.
    Neither ‘needs’ to win, and trying to fight it out only hinders each camp from moving along on this ‘pale blue dot’.
    Co-operation (“according to recent research”) is what ensures a species’ existence.
    For me, this is the only “advancement of civilisation”.

    Lovely post, Jack! It’s nice to be made to think. Thank you.

    x

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