Are Science and Religion Compatible?

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Martina Preti
Professor McMahon
Gods, Clocks, and Visions
16 Nov. 2004
Science vs. Religion

The focus of this paper is to try and answer the questions “is science compatible with religion?” and “which one is closer to the truth?” I will answer these questions separately of course, and in the order they appear. I would however like to say that this is a topic that has been debated for most of the twentieth century by people who have much more experience in their separate fields than I do. I have read several different articles on this topic and I could not find two that said the same thing, or expressed the same opinions. This is a complicated issue that people have been debating since before I was alive, I don’t think that this issue will be resolved anytime soon either. There are many different opinions on the subject and all I can do in this paper is present mine along with the evidence to support it. Now before I begin the process of answering the first question presented, it is necessary for me to explain how I intend to do that. I will start by giving definitions of both science and religion, next I will proceed to separate out certain kinds of religion and compare them to certain scientific theories, it is my goal to show that on a certain level science and religion can be compatible, however, in order to do that one must keep an open mind. I think that part of the reason why there is so much debate over this topic is that members on both sides of the argument refuse to see things from the other side’s point of view. I think if they could do that then they might see that they are both right on certain issues. It is absurd to think that it is either a “black or white” issue sometimes there is a gray area; this is one of those times. The human race has progressed so much in the last few centuries and it is amazing to me that people can still be so archaic in their thinking, so rigid and unmoving in their beliefs, if each side could try to understand the other side’s point of view I think there would be much more progress in this area as well. First of all we need to establish some definitions. Religion is defined in the broadest sense as; “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith (Merriam-Webster).” Usually people tend to subscribe to the system of beliefs advocated by a particular religion or denomination. Now before we go any further I would like to define the word faith since it is upon faith that religion is based. Faith is defined as; “complete acceptance of a truth which cannot be demonstrated or proved by the process of logical thought (Merriam-Webster).” Science on the other hand is defined as; “knowledge acquired by careful observation, by deduction of the laws which govern changes and conditions (Merriam-Webster).” Looking at the definition of religion one sees that it is contingent upon faith; it is the definition of faith along with that of science that I would like to discuss. At first glance these two definitions seem to be contradictory to each other, and they are. But science and faith are not just words to be defined. Look closer and you will see there is one thing that these two have in common. Both science and faith are used in obtaining “truth” or knowledge, knowledge about the universe and our place in it. Something any human being who subscribes to either science or religion is trying to figure out. And in this sense yes, they are compatible, it is in how that knowledge is obtained that they differ. Now before I move on to my next point I would like to say one thing first. There are many different religions and many different fields of science, to examine and compare each of the former to each of the latter would take much longer than the time allotted to complete this paper. So lets start by narrowing the field just a little. From this point on I will be focusing on Judeo-Christian religions and their relationship to...
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