Question: Do you think that Science and Religion can work together?
Leo Garcia answered on 14 Jun 2010:
This is a hugely touchy subject, so whilst I am going to be completely honest (can you see where this is going?), these are just MY opinions – not necessarily the opinions of all scientists in this competition.
I don’t see any reason why science and religion SHOULD be compatible. After all, they are based upon entirely different premises. Religion is based upon passing on knowledge through authority, belief in the absence of evidence (‘faith’) and always entails a belief in the supernatural. Science, on the other hand, is based upon logic, reason, a rejection of the supernatural (otherwise I could explain away bad experiments with ‘A ghost did it!’) and beliefs based upon strong evidence.
Science can, of course, teach us about how true the claims of religions are; for instance, we know that life was not created in its current form on earth 6,000 years ago (as claimed in the Bible), but evolved slowly over millions upon millions of years through the well understood and well tested process of genetic mutation and natural selection.
Science can also tell us WHY we have religions, and how they themselves are created by humans and changed over time.
But religion, in my opinion, has nothing to say about scientific claims because it is based upon an entirely contradictory ideology which doesn’t require any evidence to make its claims. It will never change its mind about its claims. Contrast this to science, where ideas can be held for hundreds of years and then overthrown with the availability of new, stronger evidence. That is the power of science – that we can change our minds, and constantly test our theories against the evidence, looking for where they go wrong. There is no equivalent in religion.
So, that’s my opinion. I don’t think that science and religious thought are compatible, and I believe that religions should not attempt to claim scientific authority about anything, including evolution, stem cell research and, a while ago now, whether the earth orbits the sun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair).
Remember that many (if not most) people disagree with me – and thank you for asking the question, as it is a subject I have great interest in.
Iain Moal answered on 14 Jun 2010:
It depends on the religion, and the way that religion is interpreted. For example, some people takes the bible as literal truth, that the world was made in 6 days and that Adam was made from dust, Eve from Adam’s rib and there was a worldwide flood and so on. That is completely incompatible with what science has shown *actually* happened. However, some people manage to accommodate scientific and religious beliefs, including some very good scientists, so yes, I think science and religion can work together.
That said, I think much the same as Leo. Religion comes from faith, science comes from evidence. I am passionate about the truth. Science is the best means we have for determining truth and if scientific evidence encroaches upon someones cherished belief, then I will not be ashamed recommending that they abandon that belief. Evidence should be followed where ever it takes you, even if that place isn’t very confortable.
Gioia Cherubini answered on 14 Jun 2010:
that’s a very delicate question!
Personally, I am a scientist and I am a practicing catholic, so the question could be particularly tricky for me! The fact is, I think that they belong to separate spheres, because science can answer material questions and religion can answer spiritual questions. I don’t understand why the Church should interfere with research or explaining us how we were made, but at the same time I don’t understand the obstination of some scientist at demonstrating that there’s no God. As much as I love science, it cannot give you the answer to everything. Explaining all the chemical changes that go through a brain of a person in love, doesn’t explain you what love is.
Joanna Watson answered on 17 Jun 2010:
There are some very good scientists who are religious, but I think it’s generally best if religion is kept out of science.
Mariam Orme answered on 22 Jun 2010:
I’m not religious myself, but I know plenty of scientists who are and they don’t have any problems reconciling the two.