Science Vs. Religion: Why They Clash
Since the dawn of mankind, people have questioned what it means to be human and have wondered about the world around them.
Human beings have an innate curiosity about the universe and about themselves, which serves as one of our most defining and unique characteristics.
Few animals, if any, are able to process the ideas about the origins of life and of the world that nearly every person does at some point in their lives.
We have an insatiable thirst for answers, which historically has served both as propulsion for technological and social advancement, but also as deterrent.
Our need to know the answers of where we come from gave birth to religion and also to science, making them two different sides to the same coin.
Both seek to understand just how the universe works and are fueled by our passion for discovery. Most people are aware that religion and science often clash fiercely (just ask Galileo or Charles Darwin), yet few people have ever really given much thought as to why that is.
To fully understand the answer, we must first comprehend what it must have been like for people thousands of years ago, who like us, looked up at the stars, across the ocean, or towards the moon and wondered about the meaning of it all.
Those of us who live in modern society take for granted just how much we really know about the universe that was a complete mystery for the many generations that came before us.
We know what the sun and the stars are, how natural disasters form, how large the Earth is, etc. But you need only go back a few hundred years to find a time when all of that was unknown.
Imagine living out your entire life looking up at the stars every night yet having absolutely no idea what they are. Today we know that stars are celestial objects much like our sun: enormous masses of burning gasses in space.
But to people that were born in the times before telescopes, satellites, and other scientific tools used to observe the heavens; all they could rely on was their ordinary view of the night sky.
Desperate for discovering the truth, people relied on legend and folklore from their culture to provide them with answers.
In many civilizations, stories refer to the stars as deities or gods, some claim they are great cities or empires in a far away land, while others believe the stars are something else entirely.
The truth about the stars is not the only mystery that has racked human minds in the past. Natural disasters or plagues for example, are notable examples of unexplainable phenomenon that have had a huge affect on people’s lives.
Without microscopes, thermometers, or other research devices, religious leaders attempted to explain why such events occurred. In many cultures, supernatural beings were often blamed for the occurrences.
In Europe during the middle ages, the Catholic Church claimed that terrible events such as the Black Plague were God’s wrath being enacted on human beings for acting sinfully or undesirably in some way.
With no way of knowing that the Church was wrong, local people accepted what was at the time, the only answer available to them.
As the centuries went by however, people began developing new tools for observing and testing the world around them to try and answer those important questions central to the human experience.
Using these new tools that had never existed before, scientists revealed a new way of looking at things, not in terms of legend or folklore, but in testable observation and experimentation.
With microscopes, scientists discovered bacteria and germs and observed how they could be passed from person to person due to insanitary conditions and behavior, not God’s wrath.
With technology, mankind developed a new way to observe and test the world we inhabit. Scientists began offering new explanations for mysterious events.
These new explanations however, conflicted with the teachings of religious leaders that had remained consistent for hundreds of years. For this reason, people were reluctant to accept these new ideas and caused religion and science to clash.
When someone is raised being told the world works a certain way, it becomes difficult to convince them otherwise, even if what they believe is based on ancient folklore.
The problem that this behavior presents to the human race however, is that it makes progress very difficult. It took hundreds of years for people to accept ideas such as evolution or “the Earth is round, not flat” because they thought they already knew the answers.
For millennia, all people could rely on to answer countless questions about the world and themselves were local myths.
They were forced to either accept these stories as fact, or else live out their entire lives with no answers at all.
So when a new correct idea uncovered by scientific effort emerges, people reject it because it conflicts with what they’ve believed their entire lives.
For thousands of years, people have asked themselves monumental questions such as “what happens to us after we die?”, “how was the world created?”, “is there a purpose to my being?”, and countless others.
These deep burning questions have driven innovation and discovery and have advanced human civilization to an era once unimaginable.
Try explaining the moon landing, the Internet, or a plane (all results of our quest for knowledge and to discover) to a 16th century clergyman and he’ll probably call such things “black magic”.
It’s hard to blame him though: I myself still find it hard to believe that I can instantly send my voice to any point on the planet and communicate with people thousands of miles away.
A few hundred years ago, such a thing would be considered an act of God, but thanks to science, it has become as ordinary as normal conversation.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spirituality or honoring the past, which are central ideas to any religion.
The problem arises however, when these pillars of religious ideals prevent progress and promote ignorance.
When we think we have all the answers, we resist looking for the truth.
Mankind has to learn to live with the idea that we simply don’t have all the answers and that we may never know.
Our longing to try and unravel the mysteries of the universe is our greatest asset for advancing as a species.
Unchallenged, our drive to discover can take us anywhere: whether it be the moon, the stars, or within ourselves.
courtesy : voxxi.com