Religion and science can’t be friends

Most people think of religion and science as two very different entities that often conflict. Religion is based mostly on faith. The Bible, for example, constantly preaches to “walk by faith, not by sight.” No one has ever seen God, and the Bible does little to try to argue against this. However, it encourages followers to rely on faith and not be discouraged by the lack of physical evidence for the God detailed in the Bible. Although religion and science tend to disagree, many in the religious community try to marry these two entities.

Can religion and science mix? Graphic by Katie Gibson
Can religion and science mix? Graphic by Katie Gibson

The Bible, or other religious texts for that matter, provide a vague explanation for questions that science has more reliably answered. A family friend of mine recently shared a video of a woman angrily reading a vocabulary assignment for a class, wherein the teachings of Islam were obscurely placed throughout the assignment. The woman argued that the teachings of Jesus Christ would never be allowed in the schools. Ironically, the woman didn’t even have a child in the school or school district. She claimed her husband was outraged by the teachings of Islam being placed in these assignments, but only because passages or teachings from the Bible would never be allowed in schools.

Although I don’t agree with the teachings of Islam (or any other religion) being placed throughout a school assignment, I found it absurd that this woman would take the time out of her day to voice a completely inane theory that Muslims are trying to convert children. I voiced my opinion to this particular family friend that children shouldn’t be taught any religion in school unless, of course, they’re taking a course on religion. Children should be taught how to think, and not what to think. In my personal opinion, I believe teaching science and logical thinking should take precedence over spiritual teachings in a child’s life.

I’m not an anti-theist by any means. I have no issue with people raising their children in a religious environment, so long as the child is raised to be accepting of those who don’t share the same beliefs. If a child is brought up to persecute and demean those who don’t share the same beliefs, there’s a huge issue. However, I find it hard to find a happy middle ground for a child to be a free-thinker and a theist at the same time. Science and religion have no place together. Period.

This family friend that I’ve mentioned earlier argued that she loved science and had somehow found a happy middle ground where she could both be a hardcore Christian and a scientific, logical thinker. This semester, I finally got the chance to take an astronomy course, which I’ve been wanting to take since I first came to Radford. In just the second day of class, my professor took the time to define the requirements for a thoughtful, legitimate scientific theory. He defined science as an, “exploration guided by natural law, is explanatory by reference to natural law, testable against the empirical world, has conclusions which are tentative, and is falsifiable.”

In Dover, Pennsylvania, teachers were barred from teaching intelligent design as an alternative to natural selection. Judge Jones defended the ruling by saying, quite eloquently, that “the breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.” In other words, the judge found that there was no true scientific backing behind the teachings of intelligent design. The defense showed, again and again, that their intentions behind wanting to teach intelligent design were religiously motivated, and not used as a legitimate alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

There’s no plausible way that religion and science can be found hand in hand. The religious tend to reject science and use God as an explanation for many natural occurrences such as evolution, natural disasters, life and death. Science and scientific theories are typically based on observable occurrences. In the last few hundred years,  many scientists and free-thinkers have stepped out to publicly reject God. Many religious folk cry persecution as atheists speak out against religious indoctrination. In reality, their empire of thought-suppression is slowly crumbling, brick by brick. I find it hard to accept their cries of persecution when for many years, atheists has been persecuted for speaking out against extremist religious leaders. Even now, I find admitting to being agnostic much more terrifying than when I once admitted to being Christian.

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