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Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences Research Paper


Religion has been part of humankind for generations. In fact, some theorists believe that it began with the origin of man. Reasonably so, western realistic science has been around since the 16th century. Science has been linked to secularism as religious resurgence take shape in most parts of the world. It is quite necessary to note that links between science and religion have been somewhat confusing.

For instance, while some theorists believe that God created the universe, others think that everything is science. Moreover, others have varied theories, which complicate this debate further. For instance, religion is divided into several groups with varying concepts and understanding of God. This further complicates efforts of concord between science and religion. In addition, science is faced with several unanswered questions.

In essence, the science/religion debate is complex, tumultuous and many-faceted in its approach. Moreover, religion has a huge obstacle that separates theists from atheists. This paper will establish links between theist religions and science. It will also endeavor to compare and contrast these links (Hallman 15).

Science

Scientists have postulated that nature is always objective. This gives them the urge to keep research and empirical studies for truths and beliefs on successful science. Moreover, theorists have established that science does not necessarily follow moral judgments. This is mainly because it depends on empirical studies and therefore, it must be tested for success.

Other theorists like Walther Nernst have postulated that science requires a boundless universe and in the process demeans big bang theory. Still others have postulated that credible knowledge can only be ascertained by interpreting nature. In essence, scientists propose that there are links between science, its objectives and conditions for success.

In addition, science is believed to have emerged with Copernican revolution. This enabled scientist to understand that earth is just one of the numerous planets in universe. This has enabled people to make assumptions based on experiences or observations. However, if recent observations are anything to go by, then more is yet to be discovered in cosmos (Hallman 15).

Science can be describes as a methodical enterprise that creates and organize facts in form of empirical prediction and explanations concerning space. It dwells on empirical observations and tries to come up with explanations as well as laws governing such observations. Science is sometimes linked to philosophy as they try to establish facts about the universe. Modernism has changed the meaning of science as it describes ways of acquiring knowledge.

In this regard, science tries to define nature and its law. It works to establish times and exact modifications that have occurred over the years. Moreover, it tries to explain origin of the universe. Of great concern in this field have been physical and natural science. This has led to division of the broad field of science and philosophy into various disciplines.

The disciplines include physics, biology chemistry and geology. Still there are other disciplines such as political and information or library science which link more to philosophy than applied science. In essence, science has emerged as a wide field of study with numerous disciplines (Hallman 15).

Science has been instrumental in revitalization of modern world. In fact, empirical research and observations have been integral in defining science. New technologies have come up with technologies that link the globe.

These are areas of strong links to human beliefs. No wonder most atheists have considered science to be a component of their belief system. Over the years, science has been divided into two broad categories. These are social science and natural science. Even though science existed in the ancient times, its success has never been as it is today.

This is mainly because of the attributions it has brought to modern world. Its empirical methods have been utilized since the middle ages. However, modern science, which can be traced back to 16th century, revolutionized the world. This has led to scientific revolution in virtually every aspect of science (Whitehead 244).

Clearly, science has undergone significant changes over the years. However, its fundamentals apply to modern technology. For instance, experimental science has been used to establish building blocks for laws of nature. Every scientific method is usually linked to one or more basic assumptions.

These include the fact that rational observers share an objective reality. They also assume that the said objective reality follows laws of nature, which are established through experimentation and observation. These concepts have brought about terms like realism, anti-realism, empiricism, inductivism, bayesianism and idealism, among others. Science encompasses basic and applied research.

The latter is done when employing a given scientific idea on a problem while the former involves research undertaken out of curiosity. Other means of research are through experimentation and hypothesizing. This enables scientists to develop models aimed at testing specific hypothesis.

Science also encompasses certainty principle, which is usually empirical. This opens it up to falsification. In general, science tries to explain occurrences and happenings just as religion does. However, it does it through empirical methodologies as opposed to religion (Whitehead 244).

Religion

Religion can be described as a collection of worldviews, belief and cultural systems, which establish links between humanity and spirituality. This is sometimes extended to morality. Virtually all religion systems have narratives that establish their lifestyles and beliefs. Moreover, they have traditions and symbols established to be followed by all believers.

In order to give relevant meaning to universe or life, they usually have historical accounts, which are considered sacred and worthwhile to believers. Religion is usually a public aspect and differs from private belief by individuals. In essence, a belief becomes religion when many people share it even if established without scientific backing. Virtually all religions have organized structures and behavior that define role of each member within the congregation.

They also have definition of membership and its components. They usually have regular meetings for prayers, sharing of scriptures like in Christianity and Islam, among others. It is also important to note that practice of religion entails commemoration, sermons, parties, sacrifices, feasts, music and public service, among others (Einstein 1).

There are different forms of religion throughout the world. However, most of them, if not all, revere to some special being as their creator. These include Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism, among others. Primarily, Christianity forms the largest of all religious factions worldwide. Islam follows them, among others.

Most of these religions believe in life after death. They also believe in an all-powerful God, who is omnipresent, omnipotent among other excellent descriptions. Each group believes that their God created the world and all that is in it. Therefore, they revere to Him for spiritual guidance and forgiveness. They also believe that God is all-knowing and therefore understands science beyond reproach. In fact, Christians and Muslims believe that God created the universe and all that is in it.

Moreover, they believe that God has a purpose for their lives and future. Historical accounts have been made of the origin of forms of religions with prominent leaders directing their path. For instance Islam refer to Mohamed as leader of Islam, Christianity on the other hand refer to Jesus as their savior. In effect, religions clash in both ideas and conflict as has been witnessed over the years between Christianity and Islam (Einstein 1).

Religion is believed to have begun with the origin of humankind. However, its development has taken diverse forms in various cultures. In fact, even a single form of religion has been found to have some differences depending on the region in which it is practiced. For instance, Christianity has taken different forms in different areas.

Diversity has led to break up between denominations as they seek what they believe. This trend has not spared Islam, which has witnessed its own differences between the Sunni and other factions. While some religions believe that their laws are binding to everyone, others have taken a different approach. Others have emphasized practice and experience while others emphasize belief.

It is also important to note that religion has been associated with most public institutions such as schools, political hierarchies and hospitals, among others. In essence, regions have taken various forms in its development. This has led to alienation of some groups as other continue to press for their beliefs (Einstein 1).

Most religions believe that they descended from Abraham. These include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Samaritanism, Rastafari movement and Druze, among others. Those that believe in incarnations include Indian religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, among others.

Religion have been divided to two main categories namely Universal and ethnic religions. While the former seeks universal acceptance, the latter is mainly associated with ethnic groups and rarely seek new converts. Some theorists have also suggested that all religions be considered as ethnic since they are drawn from a given culture. Recent events have seen efforts of cooperation within religious groups.

This is mainly pursued in western cultures as was seen in 1893 at Chicago. Several initiatives have been hatched between different religions factions, for instance, Christian-Jewish reconciliation. In essence, Religion has a history of conflict and dominance. Most of them seek universal acceptance and work towards uniform values for everyone in the globe (Whitehead 244).

Science and Religion

Science and religion has been the subject of major debates worldwide. This is mainly because of the numerous conflicting ideas they have had. Since science tries to establish explanations for existence, form and texture, among others properties, it emphasizes on empirical and experimental idealism.

On the other hand, religion believes in teachings of their God without questioning or demanding empirical research on ideas. Scientists have found it difficult to explain some religious beliefs like creation. This has invigorated debate on facts and principles behind creation as is believed by religion. Another aspect of debate between religion and science is on miracles.

This has been contentious especially because scientists do not see any relation between miracles and nature. For instance, Christians believe that Jesus fed thousand s of people with just a handful of fish and bread. In science, this is considered fiction and it can never tally since it defies principles of nature. For this reason, the two fields have always differed (Plantinga 1).

Several theorists such as Anon and Atkins have differed in their reference of science and religion. For instance, Anon believes that true religion and science are in harmony because they both try to describe reality. On the other hand, Atkins feels that they are completely incompatible. The main debate that differentiates scientists from conservative Christians is about principles, which are said to control science. In essence, the battleground between religion and science is on philosophy of science.

For instance, most Christians in United States believe that earth is 6000 years old while, scientists believe that the information is far fetched. In their defense, they mention the bible and scientific records respectively. Generally, main topics of variance are on humanity, the earth, universe and other species. Differences occur mainly because each side bases fundamental on assumptions, which differ in each case (Plantinga 1).

Scientists build their knowledge from scientific methods. This helps them gain an increasing understanding of nature. Usually, they derive their theories in the following steps: Observation of new, unusual, or unexpected things, gathering of evidence concerning that phenomenon. The next step involves creating hypothesis (one or more) using methods such as trial and error, analytical methods or intuition, designing test that would provide foreseeable results in case the hypothesis is true and conducting that test.

In case the hypothesis is null, they usually go back to gather more information on that phenomenon. However, if it is true, then they publish it in peer-reviewed journals where other scientists can tests their results. On the other hand, religions do not go through steps, in fact, their quest for truth is usually complex.

This is mainly because a congregation only believes its religion’s teachings. Each religion takes their belief system to be the standard, leading to more confusion and complexities. For instance, origin of universe has created confusion. This is because Jainism believes that it was not created, on the other hand, other religions like Islam and Christianity as well as Judaism, among others, believes that it was created (Plantinga 1).

Similarities

One similarity that comes from both religion and science is the fact that pioneers of modern science were Christians. In essence, as much as they established scientific laws of nature, they showed reverence for God and believed that the gifts were from Him. In that sense, it could be said that God was the Chief scientist in their lives.

These pioneers included Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Boyle, among others. Moreover, theorists like Foster and Ratzsch empirical science was quite similar to theist belief. This is mainly because theist religions embraced concept of creation, which states that God created the universe and human beings.

Moreover, the doctrine says that God created man in his own image, which makes God a person with likes and dislikes as humans. In this sense, God has created man in his image so that they may understand the world. In scientific terms, humans grow in intellect to know the world. Therefore from this perspective, it is clear that the two concord (Plantinga 1).

Another similarity that is seen between religion and science is contingent. Since God is omnipresent, omnipotent, loving and good, He therefore must exist in every part of the world at any time. However, he is not obliged to create the world; in fact, He does this on a free will.

Moreover, he is not obliged to create in particular manner. Therefore, we find that He creates contingent things, out of a free will. This is similar to empirical character in modern science, in which knowledge comes from memory, perception and empirical science methods. In this regard, theist belief is seen to support science in that people learn from experiments and observations. This is common in theist belief, where those who grow in faith learn from observations and experiences of others (Plantinga 1).

Alternative agreement comes in the concepts and factors that hold universe together. For instance, force of gravity, which holds the earth in its place and stars.

In case they were to change by some margin, the world would most definitely collapse. This is seen to agree with theist belief that God created the universe with specific intentions of how things are controlled in intellectual life. This dispels possibility of the world being by chance since these fundamentals are held at some specific values to permit life on earth.

If things happened by chance as atheists propose then the world would crumble at any moment, in this sense, both science and religion concord. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the world would just permit life on earth and not on other planets. The probability of this happening is very low as compared to that of a regulator that fine-tunes earth to permit life (Whitehead 244).

Differences

Science has numerous discords with religion. This starts with the mode of assumptions or belief. For instance, scientists believe that things occur out of natural processes. They derive this from scientific method, which is utilized in all cases. On the other hand, religions base their beliefs on scriptures. For instance, Christians believe that the sun stood still during the time of Joshua. Under scientific methods, this is a violation of scientific methods, and according to science, it would have led to collapse of the world.

In essence, science only works on assumptions from scientific methods. Other situations that contribute to this debate are events such as Jesus walking on water, which according to science, is impossible. Moreover, his ascendance to heaven is heavily disputed since scientist belief that one needs a force that would overcome the force of gravity to ascend. These, among others have caused heavy debates on the two principles (Hallman 15).

Another subject of debate that discords scientific belief is creation. According to Darwinian Theory of evolution, among others, the world was not created. The theory conflicts religious belief, which postulates that God created the world and everything in it. Moreover, religion believes that the earth is 6000 years old, another point of discord from evolution theory, which postulates that the world is millions of years old.

In addition, evolution theory postulates that human beings descended from apes through evolution, this is quite different from theist belief that human were created by God in His own likeness. Evolution theory goes further to postulate origins of plants and animals which conflicts religious belief that God created all things, including both plants and animals (Robinson 1).

Other areas of discord include abortion, which religious belief shuns, while science allows. Homosexuality is another area of conflict between science and religion. While religion considers it an abomination, science argues that it is another from of sexuality. In essence, science does not care about morality or values. On the other hand, religion derives its fundamentals from good morals and values. Belief in life after death has also been debatable even among religious factions.

These beliefs continue to widen the path between science and religion. It is not clear whether science will end up coming to religious belief since it is difficult to establish what exactly caused evolution or the big bang theory and why it is not a continuing process in which more earths and people are made (Lovgren 1).

Conclusion

Science and religion have had several similarities and differences over the years. However, it has never been as striking as that of modern science and religion. Scientist in the ancient times professed some form of faith; however, this rarely happens in modern context. Delicate issues such as creation, homosexuality, abortion, morality, miracles, laws of nature, existence of an all knowing, powerful God and cosmology, among others, have been the subjects of discord between science and religion.

On the other hand, some scientists have acknowledged existence of God and His unique abilities that prove creation as a possibility. For instance, pioneers of scientific laws were Christians. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen if the two beliefs will concur. However, if current issues are anything to go by, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the theories to concord (Einstein 1).

Works Cited

Einstein, Albert. “Religion and Science”. sacred-texts.com. Sacred Texts, 2011. Web.

Hallman, Max. Traversing Philosophical boundaries. 4th ed. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Lovgren, Stefan. “Evolution and Religion Can Coexist, Scientists Say”. news.nationalgeographic.com. National geographic News. Web.

Plantinga, Alvin. “Religion and Science“. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. SEP. Web.

Robinson, Bruce. “Science vs. religion: Conflicts between conservative Christianity and scientific findings”. religioustolerance.org. Religious Tolerance. Web.

Whitehead, Alfred. Science and the Modern World: Science and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

This Research Paper on Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences was written and submitted by user Barbara Abbott to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Barbara Abbott studied at the University of Chicago, USA, with average GPA 3.59 out of 4.0.

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Abbott, B. (2019, September 26). Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-and-religion/

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Abbott, Barbara. "Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences." IvyPanda, 26 Sept. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/science-and-religion/.

1. Barbara Abbott. "Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences." IvyPanda (blog), September 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-and-religion/.


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Abbott, Barbara. "Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences." IvyPanda (blog), September 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-and-religion/.

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Abbott, Barbara. 2019. "Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences." IvyPanda (blog), September 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-and-religion/.

References

Abbott, B. (2019) 'Religion and Science: Similarities and Differences'. IvyPanda, 26 September.

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