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.