Rise of Science

Disclaimer: I do not intend to demean any religion. I am just expressing my own thoughts. Feel free to tell me I am wrong!

In this day of age it seems that scientific hegemony is greatly overpowering religious thought. In the U.S  population today, 73 percent of people believe in Christianity, 6 percent are  other Religions, 19 percent   Non-Religious and 2 percent  do not know.  Over the past 20 years the increase  of non-religious citizens has increased from 8 percent, in 2000,  to that 19 percent we have today.  Is this because of the power of scientific fact? Are people bringing to question the facticity of religious texts written thousands of years ago?

“American Polygeny and Craniometry Befrore Darwin” by Stephen Gould seems to touch on this topic and he states “ the American debate of polygeny may represent the last time that arguments in the scientific mode did not form a first line of defense for the status quo.” (p 114) Changing the status quo, in my mind, is a good thing. Being agnostic, it makes me realize that religious justification is used when scientific facts cannot prove phenomenon. This does not mean that I do not believe in faith, but more so that scientific facts have greater facticity than a book that was written thousands of years ago by dozens of people. Not to be derogatory but to make an analogy, religious texts are equivalent to Wikipedia today. Many people have edited the subjects but it still presents good information to the greater population. Religious texts from all over the world have information that can be used in personal situations; but who says they are right on topics such as evolution? Many scientists and doctors use Wikipedia for basic knowledge but will not cite it on a research paper. They will go directly for the  peer reviewed article to find out the rest of the story behind the experiments and will recreate the experiment if totally skeptical. 

“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” This a quote from Richard Feyman, a theoretical physicist known for his great strides in quantum mechanics and his work on the Manhattan Project. This is a scientist that although follows the scientific method is able to distinguish that science is its own culture that believes in doubt while religion focuses on faith in an all-powerful deity.  While Feyman believes that religion and science are equal but opposite, Carl Sagan, a theoretical physicist, believes that science is a source of spirituality for the people that study it. He says, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” This source of scientific hegemony, that Sagan is idealizing, is what many people believe today. Personally, I take great pride in all the work I do in the lab. Peer review articles, lab procedures and the scientific method become my faith.

To explain the scientific method here is a great diagram: http://www.cdn.sciencebuddies.org/Files/5084/7/2013-updated_scientific-method-steps_v6_noheader.png

I believe that the religious hegemony is starting to succumb to scientific hegemony due to the scientific method. This method has been used by all of the scientists since Plato and Sir Issac Newton. It starts with a question, and through observation, data can be collected. The data is then analyzed and sent out to the scientific community to be reviewed. This review process is the key to distinguish good and bad data. In religion, the texts only state one set of data and cannot be reviewed.

Although religion is becoming less popular how factual it is, it still provides a good support system for large groups of people and teaches what science cannot. It teaches how to become a moral person and how to work with others. Science teaches to doubt, test and analyze. Thomas Huxley said “The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.” This holds very true because religion teaches to have a blind trust while science makes you search for facts. This is not always the best life for some people. Some people need to have a distinct answer for metaphysical problems that cannot be explained with science. This causes much tension between the two and the effect is a harsh battle in the primary school systems to teach what people believe is right.

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4 Comments

  1. Danny, you and I are very similar in our views. Scientific explanations just make more sense to me. I once heard someone say “Tell people the paint is wet, and they must touch it to trust your word. Tell them there is an all-knowing, all-seeing higher power and the majority will follow you blindly.”

    I, as well, am not trying to demean or belittle people of faith. I don’t like to be told what or who to believe in, so I don’t do that to others. But I find that people of faith (mostly the VERY devout) don’t exude the same tolerance. To them, if you disagree with their faith or don’t follow any faith at all, you are less worthy of living, or are a dubbed a sinner.

    I just see this as a way for them to attain answers to their uncertainties and insecurities. I’m insecure about lots of things, my appearance, physical ability, or just whether or not I am a good enough person. But I try not to project that on others through the use of my personal beliefs. I do my best to act introspectively to figure it out. But, to each their own.

  2. I completely agree with your stance on religion. I like how you mentioned that religion focuses on blind trust (faith) and science makes you prove things through data and research. I thought your comparison between religion and Wikipedia was very interesting. I understand why people take up religion, it is a means for them to justify things that we don’t understand and leave it at that, but I can’t simply leave it at that. I want factual evidence that proves it.

  3. I agree with you. I believe deeply in my religion, but I love science. I go to church every Sunday and sing in a church choir. I am also in the nursing program and my career relies heavily on science. It is possible to believe in both. Some people find a hard time believing in both and I do not judge them. I just ask that they do not judge me for the way that I feel.

  4. Not all theists believe in a god-of-the-gaps definition for their god. I believe Oxford mathematician John Lennox said “God is not a god of the gaps. He’s the God who created the whole show! The more Newton understood about how gravity works, the more he could admire the genius of the God who did it that way.” Christian apologists often argue that ‘Classical Theism’ is compatible with both Greek philosophy and Christianity. I believe Muslim apologists – historically, not recently – have tried the same.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of theists who define their god as the god-of-the-gaps… and I’d agree that there is a fundamental incompatibility/discord between that view and science. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said “…If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on – so just be ready for that to happen, if that’s how you want to come at the problem.”

    Regards.

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