Science and Religion
“Is religion best understood as an infectious disease of the mind?”
RELIGION and science are sometimes assumed to be mortal enemies. To some they appear locked in a struggle of such magnitude that it may seem that one will triumph only by the death of the other.
In one camp are some scientists, such as chemist Peter Atkins, who feel that reconciling religion and science is “impossible.” Atkins says that to believe “that God is an explanation (of anything, let alone everything) is intellectually contemptible.”
In another camp are religious people who blame science for the destruction of faith. Such individuals hold to the opinion that science as practiced today is a deception; its facts may be correct, but the misinterpretation of those facts undermines the beliefs of the faithful. For instance, biologist William Provine says that Darwinism means “no ultimate foundation for ethics; no ultimate meaning for life.”
However, some of the conflict has developed because of false or unprovable assertions originating from both sides. For centuries, religious leaders have taught mythical legends and erroneous dogmas that are at odds with modern scientific findings and not based on inspired Scripture. For example, the Roman Catholic Church condemned Galileo because he concluded, correctly, that the earth revolves around the sun. Galileo’s view in no way contradicted the Bible, but it was contrary to what the church taught at the time. On the other hand, scientists are at fault when they teach as fact the unprovable theory that life evolved from inanimate matter independent of God. They ridicule religious faith as unscientific.
Is it possible, then, to reconcile science and religion? Yes, it is. Actually, proven science and true religion complement rather than contradict each other.
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Galileo taught scientific truth, for which he was censured by the church