Science and religion in modern western culture

Published: 2020-04-28 06:10:35
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Since the introduction of classical antiquity, the relationship between science and religion has been a subject of discussion in the society. This has caused numerous debates between theologians, philosophers and scientists, CITATION Bro11 \l 1033 (Brooke, 2011). Different cultures, historical epochs, and geographical regions give contrasting views about the relevance of science and religion in the modern society. The relationship between science and religion is considered to be either a source of harmony or a source of conflict in the society. In addition, other people say that the two have limited interaction and relationship. The main difference between the two is that science appreciates empiricism, reason and evidence. Religion on the other hand appreciates sacredness, faith and revelation but with great acknowledgement to metaphysical and philosophical explanations regarding the working of the universe CITATION Har10 \l 1033 (Harrison, 2010). However, the similarity between religion and science is that both do not change, are static and timeless. Both are also complex cultural and social endeavors that do change through time across various cultures and languages.

Various technical and scientific innovations that led to scientific revolution came as a result of the commitment from the religions and traditions that were organized by societies. The scientific methods that are witnessed in the society were pioneered by the Muslim scholars and then the commitments of the Christians helped to further their developments, CITATION Koe12 \l 1033 (Koenig, 2012). Hinduism is another group that has for years embraced empiricism and reason but still maintains that science helps in bringing legitimate but incomplete knowledge about the world. Moreover, the Confucian thought had had differing views about science for years while the Buddhists still maintain that science serves to complement their religious beliefs and this helps to complement the religious teachings. With the various views from different religious groups about science, it is worth to carry out analysis about the relationship about the two to understand their benefits in the modern society.

The meaning of science

Science is considered as a systematic amount of knowledge that is articulated into a few fundamental sectors among them being astronomy, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, CITATION Lin08 \l 1033 (Lindberg, 2008). The knowledge that is acquired through science must be attained by using different methods. The methods enable the divide of the fundamental sectors into various subsectors that lead to the growth of their proliferation in the society. Additionally, science involves a greater numbers of sectors than those mentioned, and this helps in the understanding of the history of science in the society, CITATION McG12 \l 1033 (McGrath, 2012). In simple terms, science is regarded as the process that relates to the properties of natural numbers, the ways to engage in computations, properties of geometrical figures. Moreover, it also involves understanding of the positions that the planets occupy in the sky at different times in the year and other features of nature that the ancient people knew about and are still taking place in the modern society.

The meaning of religion

On the other hand, religion is considered as the attitude that consists of the admission of the existence of the domain of reality. The domain is considered as sacred, and which is superior to the visible reality and on which visible reality greatly depends upon, CITATION Num09 \l 1033 (Numbers, 2009). The supernatural domain, which is usually referred to as the sphere of divine, is understood in different ways in the society depending on cultures and times. The supernatural domain is usually enunciated into some gods and at times it is reduced into a unique God. The nature of the unique God is therefore considered to be distinct and separate from the natural world where the human beings live. The God is at times considered to permeate the material world to influence the working of the world of human beings and influence their actions.

Incompatibility between science and religion

One of the major sources of incompatibility between religion and science is the difference in scientific rationalism and the belief in supernatural beings and influence. Such issues have led to some contradictions between religion and science for some years in the society, CITATION Bro11 \l 1033 (Brooke, 2011). Such have led to great conflicts between science and faith of individuals and their beliefs in divinity in the Society. Evolution and the high levels of religiosity in countries in the modern society greatly have great impacts in understanding religion and science. Additionally the several books help to explain the relation between religion and science and prove that the society has trouble in admitting both at the same time, CITATION Har10 \l 1033 (Harrison, 2010). On the other hand, researchers claim that compatibility or incompatibility results due to religious beliefs since science only serves to confirm the existence of nature. The incompatibility results since religion belief require that people abandon the rules of logic which contradict the fundamental laws of science.

The second difference between religion and science is that science necessitates experimental evidence while the fundamental requirement of religion is supreme reliance on faith. Such major differences cause differences between religion and faith and this makes the two to be irreconcilable, CITATION Koe12 \l 1033 (Koenig, 2012). Another cause for the difference between religion and knowledge is that there is a conflict between the approaches of knowledge and the availability of alternative explanations for the phenomena that religion explicitly explains. The conflict is because religion can explain matters such as the origin of the universe, the beginning of humanity and the inception of some supernatural occurrences in the universe, CITATION Lin08 \l 1033 (Lindberg, 2008). Religion can explain the existence of supernatural occurrences and events but science only tries to explain the working of the supernatural world but do not explicitly explain the inception of supernatural phenomena.

Another great source of conflict between science and religion is that religion tries to prove that science is morally corrupt and posits that it serves to encourage intemperance in the society. In this way, religion debauches the scientific belief and the enterprise as a whole, CITATION McG12 \l 1033 (McGrath, 2012). Religion therefore saps intellect and subverts science. The problem is always evident on the occasions when religion and science tries to explain evolution of the earth and humanity. The conflict that ensues when both religion and science are used to explain evolution is evident when some parents do not allow their children to learn about evolution since they are aware of the great conflict that exist between religion and science. This is because science does not give any account of any supernatural events that take place in the universe.

Compatibility between science and religion

There are other researchers who are for the idea that science and religion work together for the growth and development of humanity and the society as a whole. Researchers such as Francisl Collins, Kenneth Miller, George Coyne and Francisco Ajala submit that science offers ways and opportunities through which the society can look for God. They also submit that such ways aid in the understanding of the divinity, CITATION McG12 \l 1033 (McGrath, 2012). Also, the authors submit that science complements religions to enable the humanity to reflect on their belief. In this light, the researchers prove that the fact the science greatly appreciates experimental justification only works to prove religious teachings and beliefs. Additionally, the authors prove that scientists are religious and that they uphold the religious principles and teachings. In this light, many of the American scientists that fuel scientific views and perceptions believe in evolution, which confirm that both beliefs are compatible and work to complement each other.

Another proof of compatibility between science and religion is where scientists refer to the ideas of science and atheism or theism; they do not talk about scientific thoughts and ideas, but they extend their discussion beyond science. The scientists, on such occasions, borrow ideas from religious teachings to help them support their claims, CITATION Num09 \l 1033 (Numbers, 2009). Furthermore, the fact that evolution ensured that the brain can accommodate the ideas of both religion and science proves that the brain can handle both religion and science. This proves the fact that there is no incompatibility between science and religion when arguments are channeled biologically. Karl Gibberson, a researcher, claims that one of the major causes of conflicting ideas between science and religion is that a number of studies usually borrow their ideas from the less informed masses in the course of conducting their study. They therefore neglect the views of the intellectual leaders in theology CITATION Bro11 \l 1033 (Brooke, 2011). The ideas given by the non-intellectuals lead to the unjust slanting of the debate about religion and science in the modern society.

Modern theological leaders, the same with their scientific counterparts often dismiss historical beliefs about the incompatibility between religion and science. Therefore, the modern developments confirm that modern day religious leaders and scientists have accepted the changes in the society and that they agree on some issues in both science and religion, CITATION Har10 \l 1033 (Harrison, 2010). In this light, the extremists in the society are bound to become irrelevant on the issues relating to both science and religion. Religion naturally does not have a method to assist in explaining the occurrences in the society because the origin of religion emerges through time immemorial and borrows heavily from the diversity in cultures. On the other hand, Christian ultimate truths and theology rely on scriptures, reason, tradition and experience, and this helps in the testing and gauging their experience and what they should be having in the society.

Religion and Modernity

Muslims in most regions of the world attest to the fact that religion in the modern society is very relevant and that it conforms to the scientific views and development. Muslims in the Sub-Saharan Africa are however divided on the issue about the relationship between science and religion, CITATION Koe12 \l 1033 (Koenig, 2012). On the contrary, Muslims living in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe submit that there are minimal conflicts between religion and science in the modern society. In the Southeast Asia, a very small percentage of Muslims confirm that religion and science conflict. This is because 32 percent of Muslims in Thailand, 23 percent of Muslims in Malaysia and 21 percent of Muslims in Indonesia confirm that there are great conflicts between religion and science, CITATION Lin08 \l 1033 (Lindberg, 2008). The statistics confirm that generally the Muslims confirm the idea that there is a close correlation between religion and science in the society and that the society should ensure close working of religious leaders and scientists.

On the other hand, in Central Asia and Eastern and Southern Europe, less than 40 percent of Muslims confirm incompatibility between religion and science. This is inclusive of the 13 percent of Azerbaijani Muslims. The most divided Muslims are the Turkish Muslims; this is because 38 percent confirm that religion and science conflict while 49 percent disagree...


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