Evaluating the supposed conflict between religion and science.
The two do not even need to be compared.
But the results do not prevent belief in God.
A good proportion of society considers that science and religion are in conflict with each other. In fact that suspicion alone prevents many a person from trying Christian faith for themselves.
Let me say firstly that there is no reason why the two even need be compared. I am definitely not the first person to reach this conclusion! Science attempts to explain how things are; how things work. Religion, on the other hand, has the brief to answer the big questions that begin with the word why?
I consider that many atheists and agnostics struggle with this perceived conflict because of the views of Christian fundamentalists. In essence this comes from their literal translation of the first Book of the Old Testament of the Bible, “Genesis”. With such an outlook, any scientific theory that challenges their views is taken as a threat to their very faith. It was the case when Copernicus theorised during the 1500s that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Darwin’s theory of evolution creates the same zealous response today!
I absolutely accept that the fundamentalists have a right to their views. And I have the odd dear friend who is actually a fundamentalist. I have worshipped with fundamentalists too. I admire their zeal and enjoy taking part in their church services.
None-the-less it seems so simple to me! ‘Faith’ stands on its own.
2. IS COMPARISON NEEDED?
Indeed scientific evidence or theory should never affect the basis of our faith. As far as I am concerned, the existence of God can be proven, beyond reasonable doubt, by any person who is willing to truly evaluate the possibility. That is by putting faith to the test. I am sure that the presence of God, within his Church and our individual lives, can be recognised by anybody if they know how and where to look. (To read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
Of course once we have proven to ourselves that faith has a sound basis, then we will inevitably progress to believing that God has to be the universe’s creator. With this outlook, scientific theory then is, as Isaac Newton believed, just the mechanism for explaining how God’s creation actually functions!
You may be surprised that survey results published in the “Nature” periodical back in 1997 reported at that time that 40% of responding scientists in the USA believed in God. A further 15% were open on the issue, i.e. they were agnostics rather than atheists. I am confident that a good many other professions would have far less general acceptance of God’s existence.
Essentially, as a result, science should never stand in the way of a quest for personal faith. On the other hand, neither should religious views impact the development of scientific theory. Science and religion should have their own discrete paths.
3. SCIENCE HAS MOVED ON
That all aside, the real conflict expected by so many people just is not there! It might have been true in the case of pre-twentieth century classical physics.
Despite his best intentions, Newton, more than any other person, is responsible for the outlook that is held by a large proportion of Western atheists. The Newtonian idea of a machine-like reality raises the question, “Why do we need a Creator (God) at all?” That is, if the universe has seemingly been cranking on and on forever, why do we need to hypothesise about a God?
But! Within current scientific theory however, the universe is actually known to be anything but machine-like!
It is also very unlikely that it has been in existence forever.
4. THE MYSTERY OF MATTER
The science of the twentieth century – including the theories of relativity and, more importantly, quantum physics – still raises more questions on the basis of reality than it answers.
By the 1920s physicists had reached the understanding that sub atomic particles could no longer be explained in a common sense manner. For example, the laws of cause and effect, which do apply to the macroscopic (visible to the naked eye) world, do not fully apply to the microscopic world of sub atomic particles
One of the oddest scientific theories is that of “nonlocal effects”. As an example analogy, a billiard ball will react when it is struck by another billiard ball. Once the two balls have separated and lost speed, neither ball can affect the other, that is unless they are physically brought into contact again. But within quantum mechanics, two sub atomic particles that have interrelated locally (say within an atom) can continue to influence each other through ‘nonlocal’ effects after separation. Measurements taken of one of these particles will be partially affected by the state of the other particle, even if it is on the other side of the universe. And the effect will be instantaneous.
Even Einstein struggled with that one at the time, but experimentation in the 1980s conclusively proved that non local effects are real at a sub atomic level.
Yes, there is a lot more mystery in matter than initially imagined by most of us. Please note that I am merely trying here to set the stage for what follows under this subsection of the website. Just click on the subheadings under “Science and religion” in the Menu Bar.
Firstly, there is no real need for science and religion to be compared. Secondly, there is little conflict between moderate Christian theology and scientific theory anyway.
Importantly, it is absolutely possible for ‘thinkers’ to believe in God. In fact this website has been developed by one thinker who does believe, with the aim of enabling other thinkers to do likewise. Yes, the site is a guide on how this can be achieved. Of course I had a lot of help, from a team of highly qualified advisers, during the site’s development. (Again read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
Before moving on though, maybe you would like to look at the big questions that do arise when we consider the universe and life on Earth:
- Why does the universe exist at all (i.e. what put it here)?
- Why are there such extreme odds against our universe being ‘just as it is’?
- How do we explain away the extreme complexities of conditions on Earth and life itself?
If so, please continue to the following article, “Life, the universe and everything”.
The final article in this subsection of the website, “The answer” offers a way forward in light of ‘the big picture’ highlighted here.
Join in please. Ask questions. Leave a comment. Etc.