Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Science vs. Religion

Science and religion are often compared as complete opposites. They often seem at odds with each other; religion holding back scientific progress, science destroying some of religions most precious claims.

I don't think that science and religion are totally at odds. They do operate for the most part in separate areas of society, and usually don't clash. Many prominent scientists are deeply religious, often it's only because atheist scientists shout louder that this isn't well known.


There is one important area where religion and science are polar opposites, so important that it's the very mechanism by which the two move.

Religion almost always contains a piece of unquestionable dogma; the Bible in Christianity for example. This body of information is usually claimed to be touched by God, and therefore perfect in everyday.

Science starts with nothing, just the scientific method. It then starts to build up a body of information that reflects the natural world. Science can be viewed simplistically as trial and error. Having a glance at a small time line in physics shows the progress from classical to relativistic to relativistic/quantum.

To sum up: religion starts with a claim of perfect knowledge, science starts with nothing and builds up to perfect knowledge.


The claims of perfection by religion is a huge problem. How can a religious text, written in the language of man, be perfect? Are the translations perfect?

Furthermore, how come every religious teaching is interpreted differently by everyone? How can it be perfect if it is so ambiguous?

What happens if new findings contradict the teachings in a religious text? If we look at history, violence is often the answer, as per Galileo in Catholic Italy. You can't exactly go and rewrite the word of God can you?

Science too has flaws. The constant doubt of the current theory in any given field is paradoxically science's greatest aspect and it's fatal flaw. Great in that it allows the knowledge to change with new findings, flawed in that we never know if we are truly right.


Both science and religion are fundamentally flawed. Science seems to always be imperfect and incomplete, and we can never know when it is perfect. Religion claims perfection without any regard to it's environment or new findings.

We shouldn't be surprised that both science and religion are so deficient in our search for truth; they both involve us.


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