Science and Religion are not enemies. They are actually very close brothers. The sooner we understand this relationship, the sooner we can truly work together to understand our purpose…
The following is part 2 in a series exploring the relationship between Science and Religion. For part 1, please visit Science And Religion Part 1: The Truth About Faith.
Growing up, I was not a fan of Church. I found it boring, rather irrelevant in contemporary culture, and far too judgy. In many ways I saw it as the antithesis of science. I enjoyed science (and still do). I wanted to be a storm chaser, after all, so science was a bit of a big deal.
In fact, my step father used to refer to me as “Mr. Science”.
Science was something you could see the work and result of everywhere – from video games, to microwaves, to televisions, cars, health care and Mouse Trap.
God was… well… where was God, really? You couldn’t see God. You couldn’t observe God or see the results of His work anywhere. Not in any scientific way.
Science was about reason (and I would include philosophy in that). It was about testing ideas and seeing what happened when you did. And then utilizing the results of those tests as a means to make the world a better place.
Church – and religion in general – seemed “culty”. There was no reason involved. Almost like a kind of brainwashing where everyone just kind of wished this odd Faith into being. Based on nothing but… what? Feeling?
Science was dependable. It made sense that if you tried this thing over here it would very likely result in that thing over there.
God was not. Like wishing upon a star when you were a child and then wondering why that Power Wheels you wanted wasn’t in the garage when you got up in the morning. (I totally did that by the way).
I saw God as constantly letting you down, because you couldn’t simply will your Life along on Faith.
But as I got older – as I analyzed God and Faith with reason (the same kind of reason I entrust in the sanctity of science) – I started to understand that Faith wasn’t that simple. It was a lot more complex.
The Cult of Science
What I learned was that Science (and its staunchest purveyors) could be just as “culty”, brainwashing and judgy as I had believed God, religion and the church to be.
It could often be hypocritical. Not following its own rules and telling you, in the act of doing so, that the case was closed anyway. Its followers could sometimes judge people who didn’t entirely subscribe to every single thing that it purported to prove, while at the same time living much of its existence through a kind of Faith anyway.
And the more I explored this the more I understood that Science and religion weren’t really all that different. They were quite related. Science often built itself on matters of Faith. In many ways, it’s always had to.
There’s nothing wrong with that, really.
After all, every day that we get up and decide to do something – be it getting in a car, crossing the street, eating those Pop Tarts, spraying chemicals in our hair, or sending our kids to daycare – we do it on Faith.
It’s Faith that tells us we’ll make it from point A to point B alive. There’s no proof other than us actually doing it (that time). It’s Faith that tells us the Pop Tarts won’t make us sick. It’s Faith that tells us those chemicals won’t ruin our hair (though I do kind of blame them for my baldness). It’s Faith that tells us we’ll see our kids at the end of the day – that they’re safe with these strangers on the other side of town.
Faith is inherent in the human condition. Therefore there is nothing wrong with Science or religion often hanging its hat on matters of Faith.
Of course, the next logical thing to ponder is: “Why are we like that?”
Reason Vs Chaos
Humans have a natural propensity toward Faith. Not Faith in a God, per se, but Faith in something. That something could be science-based, or it could be God-based. I believe we do this because – and this is the super-crazy-deluxe-short-version here… just humor me – if we didn’t, we’d be tired out within the first hour of the day because we’d be freaked out about every tiny little thing.
It’s not unlike how your brain filters out things it doesn’t need to know. You’re familiar with the experiment (oh! Science!) where if you stare at a dot or a mark on the wall for a minute or two, it eventually disappears. This is because, after a certain amount of time, your brain doesn’t acknowledge it as anything you really need to know about. It’s there, move on. Your brain is taking it on Faith that it’s not a threat, or at the very least there’s nothing else it needs from it.
Taken like this, Faith actually does have reason to it.
It’s reasonable to assume you’re going to make it from point A to point B today. Sure, you haven’t yet today but, any other time, you have. It’s reasonable to assume that Pop Tart won’t kill you. It never has (of course, you could argue that what you’re eating isn’t the same Pop Tart…) and there’s consumer protections on the label that “guarantee” its quality. It’s reasonable to assume your hair spray won’t ruin your hair. It never has (on good hair days, anyway). It’s reasonable to assume you’ll see your kids at the end of the day. You always have.
It’s reasonable to assume these things because there’s consistency in the universe. This is why science can do what it does. There’s a reasoned Faith behind what happens in our world.
What I’m describing here are more frequently referred to as “Laws”. The Law of Gravitation. Newton’s Third Law of Motion. The Law of Thermodynamics. The Law of In-Laws. Even evolution! These Laws are what tell us that the world is not the cauldron of chaos that people would have you believe. There’s a consistency to them.
If you get in an accident going from point A to point B, it’s reasonable to assume what’s going to happen. Laws tell us that. There’s a consistency there.
If there wasn’t, when you crashed your car you’d turn into a balloon, which itself would shrink to the size of a nickel. And it would start snowing gumdrops for five minutes. Any onlookers would vaporize and a nearby building would turn to bread and toast itself.
…That time. Something entirely different would happen the next time.
Chaos was invented by humans to explain when things don’t happen in a way they’d expect. Not really on a logical or scientific level, but on a subjective, personal, imagined one (this is where most conspiracy theories emanate from). Chaos largely does not exist in the universe.
If there are Laws and consistency, that would reasonably lead us to believe that there is a purpose.
Reason Behind Purpose
All my life I’ve heard people say that Science and Religion are absolutely mutually exclusive. They are at war with each other. If you’re a believer, you’re a brainwashed moron. If you don’t believe, you’re a heathen. There couldn’t possibly be anything good about you.
Don’t get me wrong – both of these institutions are guilty of doing terrible things to each other and even their own followers in their own name.
They’re both guilty of doing incredible things. For each other and for those that follow them.
But I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. The concept of purpose seems to suggest otherwise.
Scientific laws tell us there is consistency. Consistency – the kind that you can truly count on – tells us there is purpose. Purpose is the opposite of accident. The universe hasn’t accidentally come together. It was done purposefully.
Purpose means intent.
Something intended to do all of this.
Which means there is a reason.
Baking A Cake
Science likes to say that’s ridiculous. If God existed and wanted to create man (as we traditionally understand it in The Bible) then what’s with the first several billions of years of existence? Why have this whole escapade with the dinosaurs for millions of years before even getting to us?
To that I say, “have you ever made a cake?”
A cake is made up of several ingredients. Those ingredients, in and of themselves, do not resemble the final cake in any way. It would be great if we could just take those ingredients and POOF make a cake instantly.
Instead, you put the ingredients together, you stir them up, you put that stirred thing in the oven, and over time that mixture goes through several chemical reactions that eventually cause it to rise, solidify, and become the cake you know and love.
Unless you’re terrible at making cakes. That’s me.
Oh, and by the way, you can’t even put on the frosting (something that exists only because of a mixture of other ingredients) until all of the above has happened and the mixture has cooled.
If you think about it, isn’t gathering the ingredients of a cake and smashing them together very similar to the idea of a Big Bang that throws a bunch of ingredients into the universe and brings them together (via Laws like gravity)? Isn’t baking the cake in the oven much like whipping up chemical reactions in the universe? Isn’t putting the frosting on top much like putting human beings on a completed world – a world that’s ready for them?
Making a cake (much like any kind of cooking) is science. It’s Laws. It’s consistency. It’s purpose.
And what is that purpose? That you want to eat a damn cake, of course!
The True Relationship Between Science And Religion
What is the purpose of this universe and our existence? Well, that’s the job of Religion. The why.
“But doesn’t God have the power to POOF a universe instantly?” Sure. But without any Laws to govern it, wouldn’t that be chaos? Not the perceived kind that humans invent, but actual chaos?
As it is, He’s God. He lives outside of time. In a sense, He really did POOF it all into existence. He saw the end result of this universe the same as you see the cake picture on the box.
And not only that, but by having those Laws and that history – leaving all of that for us to explore – isn’t that an interesting way to discover Him?
Science would often like to tell us that God doesn’t exist. You can’t see God. You can’t test God. There’s no possible control – not for something like the God we constantly describe. And that’s a fair assessment, particularly if you’re properly following scientific methods.
But in reality, Science has been proving the existence of God since the very beginning. Science has been showing us how He did it for as long as we can remember (see the Laws above). And we haven’t even really scratched the surface of that.
Isn’t that exciting?
Science and Religion are not enemies. They are actually very close brothers. One needs the other.
Science is the enterprise of discovering how God created the universe.
Religion is the enterprise of discovering why He made it.
One is utterly pointless without the other.
The sooner we understand this relationship, the sooner we can truly work together to understand our purpose.
As for me properly baking that cake… well… that’s not just a matter of science – that’s a matter of Faith!
Given the above, can you see how Science and Religion (generally speaking) could be very closely related to each other? Do you still see them as being mutually exclusive? Why or why not? Where do you see moments in your life where you may have acted largely out of Faith (without realizing you were doing so)? How do you see the relationship between Science and Religion? Share your thoughts and experience below!
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