Science and Religion
Natural science is the study of nature and religion is the study of how to live. Religion is the collective knowledge of humanity on what works in living one’s life in the world. Natural science does not tell us how to live or what the world is or its purpose but rather how it works. What the world is and it’s purposes are metaphysical questions and cannot be answered by the Scientific method. They are questions for philosophy and religion.
The minute science begins to try to tell us what the world and its purpose is, it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy or even religion. Science cannot tell us what the world is any better than it can tell us what gravity is and for that matter, what science is. If you say science is the study of nature you have not told me what it is but rather what it does. For example, for measurement, gravity could be labeled a force but that does not tell you what gravity is but rather what it is like. But what is a force? Science mainly tells us how things behave and attempt to measure their behavior, and it often does this by the use of metaphors. A good example of this is light. Sometimes light behaves like a wave and other times like a particle. On the other hand, religion also uses metaphors to explain life and right living. These metaphors come in the form of stories, myths and similes.
Humans attempt to label and define everything with words. It is our way of bringing order out of the chaos of existence. Science, Philosophy and religion are the tools we use to do this labeling. These disciplines are often so intermingled that it’s impossible for the majority of people to even get close to separating them. Science is based on facts that can be demonstrated and tested and Philosophy is based on things inferred from the facts. The problem is that inferences that are inferred from the facts can be infinite. These inferences could be called hypothesis, or a stronger word could be theory. A hypothesis has little or no factual evidence of its truthfulness; a theory on the other hand has evidence, but many lack the means of testing it or falsifying it. If these two things are absent, a theory will always remain a theory. e.g. String theory.
There are two predominant philosophies that attempt to explain what the world is. They are materialism and dualism. Materialism is the belief that everything is made up of matter. Dualism is the belief that a second ingredient exists which they may call, spirit, consciousness, life force or something, which is unseen. It is important to remember that the ancients did not concern themselves with the nature of the seen or unseen. They simply accepted the fact; there were things that we see and there were things we could not see.
The philosophies of materialism and dualism are not the dominant philosophy because they have been proven by science. Both have been around a long time and were embraced before modern science was created. You could call them the philosophies of existence, but neither should be called science in a true sense of the word. Both have an element of faith. The materialist believes that only matter exists but makes a leap of faith when he adds the word ‘only’. The dualist has the problem of testing what they would call spirit.
However, when everything is said, the debate between materialism and dualism will not settle the question, does God exist? The debate if ever won would rather, simply help determine the definition and nature of the deity, which is quite impossible to know to begin with, if we are talking about the God of the Bible, who some theologians within the church referred to “as the nothingness” to ensure they did not insult him with a belittling description.