Comparison and Contrast of Science with Religion



Over a long time, there have been ongoing debates about science and religion. Different scientists, philosophers and scholars have had an extensive contrast of the two schools of thought many times over. In most cases, each party tries to prove how similar or dissimilar the two subjects are. Some have the belief that the two disciplines have a lot of variations and that it would be difficult for their coexistence. It is therefore not surprising that little progress has been made in terms of defining the relationship between science and religion. With each side trying to prove the superiority of either subject, Day (48) points out that both disciplines are working towards an attempt to solve many puzzles in human and world development. Upon juxtaposing both science and religion they interrelate in terms of unending search for knowledge, nature of creation, reality of truth and how knowledge is obtained.

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Search for Knowledge

To begin with, it is quite clear that both science and religion are centered upon a never ending search for a higher knowledge as well as understanding of the universe. As noted by Ecklund, Elaine and Jerry (279), most religions emphasize that in order to become closer to the universal creator, scholars and seekers must search for more knowledge and wisdom so that they can be more familiar with the spirit. Although this is different in various religions, it is done by the use of holy texts and prophesy. In a similar way, science advocates for unification and identification of knowledge and wisdom by the researchers and scholars. This is in order to be closer to the nature and understand the reality. In order to obtain more knowledge and wisdom, researchers and scholars use textbooks, ideas, and hypothesis. It is therefore clear that both science and religion, though independent school of thoughts, all exhibit an archive of useful information which directs their search for more knowledge.

It is however difficult for some people to entirely agree that science and religion have similar goals in search for knowledge as pointed out by Padgett (225). For instance, some have argued that science and religion are two mutually exclusive subjects and their search for knowledge is directed by different views (Padgett 226). While religion is more attracted to transcendental models such as Universal Creator, everlasting life and the Spirit, Science is attracted to substance. In their quest for search of knowledge, some contradictions occur. For example, most neuro-scientists do not believe or accept the idea of soul (Sherkat1137). However, both science and religion strive to understand the universe and obtain more knowledge and wisdom.

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Obtaining of Knowledge

In search for knowledge, a parallel subsists between science and religion in that both dogmas are based on faith. Religion is based on the faith of a universal Creator, the laws that He establishes as well as the authority of the creator over the universe and all that is in it. On the other hand, science is also based on the faith of the laws established by the universe including the authority over the creation. As McCauley (92) points out, science, religion and faith have a relationship in that the disinterested aspiration of science to know is rooted in the interpretation of the universe by religion. For instance, religion asserts that the world is a totality that is finite, rational as well as coherent and this is what drives scientific quest for more knowledge (92).

In addition, Evans, John and Michael (34) point out that science in most cases roots itself in a kind of priori faith that the world is a realistically ordered entirety of things which is the primary deduction of religion. That is to say, science could not function in absence of the idea that the universe is a measurable as well as an understandable place, an ideology which is advocated by religion. Ecklund, Elaine and Christopher (289) also point out that the reductionist schema of modern science is an oblique manifestation of fundamentally religious yearning. Science therefore bases its search for more knowledge on the faith that the world seems quite an organized place, which is the basic principle of religion.

However, in order to obtain knowledge, religion uses religious-scripture and it claims that it has absolute information. On the other hand, science does not claim that it has absolute knowledge but it develops from truths and statements which from time to time are tested in order to prove their validity. According to science, if something cannot be proven, then it might as well be useless. In contrast, religion does not have to prove anything from religious-scripture but it uses faith to believe the validity. In addition, there is little if any changes in the account of things of religion but philosophers of science assert that knowledge is obtained over time and the accounts of science continuously change as pointed out by Sherkat (1139).

Reality of Truth

Both science and religion proclaim that they hold the real truth as far as understanding of things is concerned as pointed out by Ecklund et al. (281). In regard to this, quite a number of purists as well as elitists believe that they are mutually exclusive. However, scientism for instance believe that in order to understand what things really are, a scientific analysis must be conducted. It holds that scientific analysis is the only true way of discovering truths and that there is no need for any other kind since reality is purely physical as pointed out by McCauley (126). Religion on the other hand proclaims that the Bible is the only source of true science. In addition, religion maintains that secular religion corrupts religious faith and it should be rejected if it does not correspond to the Bible.

Creation for instance is a source of debate because while Christians believe that God is the creator of the universe, scientists hold on to evolution. That is religion bases its truth on faith but science always demands evidence. In this relation, Ecklund et al. (282) points out that true believers suggest that scientists cannot prove that God did not create human beings. Therefore, their belief about evolution can only be true if they can prove that God did not create humans. However, scientists stick to theory of evolution through natural selection. As pointed out by Day (49), the relationship between religion and science is majorly represented as an issue that is irreconcilable with each side proclaiming a truth that the other cannot accept.

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However, both religion and truth have presented to us different truths which tend to be accepted generally by the public without conflict. In a way as pointed out by Yasri et al. (2698), science and religion have objectively and independently exposed enough truths. This has accorded each of them a degree of credence but they are mostly treated with a certain amount of skepticism. This aspect majorly contributed to the fact that both schools of thought originated mainly with the ancient civilization and therefore, each has a degree of truth.

Nature and Creation

Even before scientists developed their views about cosmos and the origin of the universe, cultures such as the west had elaborate doctrine about creation. That is, God created the universe and all that is in it and he did it out of nothing. Therefore, the concept of divine action and creation comes to place. In religious beliefs as pointed out by Ecklund et al. (298), God is on control of all that is in the universe and has a plan for everyone. God also made provisions for the world’s end and in addition, he will create a new heaven and earth in order to eradicate evil. However, religion does not specify when the universe was created.

In science, questions about the meaning of God creating the universe comes to place as pointed out by Yasri et al. (2702). In doing this, a different mode of creation is proposed. For example, the Big Bang Theory which was first proposed by Georges Lemaitre suggests that the universe originated from a hot and dense state approximately 13.8 million years ago. Therefore, science challenged and then replaced Biblical account of creation. Science also suggests that the laws of nature control the universe.

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Although science and religion portray differences in terms of how knowledge is obtained and the nature of creation, similarities such as desire for search of knowledge, and faith in the universal laws exist. While religion relies on scriptural texts to prove its validity, science relies on evidence to prove hypothesis. In the process, they both rely on a curtained kind of faith in order to search for knowledge. However, they differ in terms of how the universe came to be since religion proposes that God created it while science attributes it to the Big Bang Theory. It is therefore possible that science and religion originated from a single source of knowledge as pointed out by Ecklund et al. (290) and they somehow intersect at various points as each tries to verity its truth of reality.

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  1. Day, Matthew. “Let’s be realistic: evolutionary complexity, epistemic probabilism, and the cognitive science of religion.” Harvard Theological Review 100.1 (2007): 47-64.
  2. Ecklund, Elaine Howard, and Christopher P. Scheitle. “Religion among academic scientists: Distinctions, disciplines, and demographics.” Social Problems 54.2 (2007): 289-307.
  3. Ecklund, Elaine Howard, and Jerry Z. Park. “Conflict between religion and science among academic scientists?.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48.2 (2009): 276-292.
  4. Evans, John H., and Michael S. Evans. “Religion and science: Beyond the epistemological conflict narrative.” Annual Review of Sociology 34 (2008).
  5. McCauley, Robert N. Why religion is natural and science is not. Oxford University Press, 2011. (83 to 145)
  6. Padgett, Alan G. “Science and Religion: Philosophical Issues.” Philosophy Compass 3.1 (2008): 222-230.
  7. Sherkat, Darren E. “Religion and scientific literacy in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly 92.5 (2011): 1134-1150.
  8. Yasri, Pratchayapong, et al. “Relating science and religion: An ontology of taxonomies and development of a research tool for identifying individual views.” Science & Education 22.10 (2013): 2679-2707.
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