Is science an attack on religion?
Short answer: No. Science is not an attack on religion.
- A 1981 article from U.S. Catholic where they interview Carl Sagan on his religious views
- A Washington post piece on Carl Sagan and his religious views from 2014
- Contact the novel by Carl Sagan (the ending actually is extremely beautiful and intriguingly religious!)
- The Variety of Scientific Experience, A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan
The evolutionary theory does not suggest there is no God.
After all, Pope Francis himself suggests these theories don’t prove there is no God but rather that these theories require that there be one. I think that is a very powerful thought. These theories are still being developed, too. This isn’t the final hour but rather just the best guess we humans have at understanding what we have observed. What we provide in these frameworks is what is consistent with what we know and what we observe – there is always room for improvement and even change.
Science is the pursuit of knowledge and truth. It seeks to understand the world around us. For many individual scientists, their pursuit is inspired by their desire to get closer to God and to understand the Heavens. For some it is a quest to understand God’s existence. For others it is a journey of fulfillment; seeking to understand everything they sense, regardless of what religious realms they might uncover.
The term [‘God’] means a lot of different things in a lot of different religions. […] To others, for example, Baruch, Spinoza, and Albert Einstein, God is essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe.
— Carl Sagan
No decent scientist will try to convince you there is no God.
If we say “God” made the universe, then surely the next question is, “Who made God?” If we say “God” was always here, why not say the universe was always here? If we say that the question “Where did God come from?” is too tough for us poor mortals to understand, then why not say that the question of, “Where did the universe come from?” is too tough for us mortals?
— Carl Sagan
I am extremely uncomfortable with dogmatic atheists, who claim there can be no God; to my knowledge, there is no strong evidence for that position. I’m also uncomfortable with dogmatic believers; to my knowledge, they don’t have any strong evidence either. If we don’t know the answer, why are we under so much pressure to make up our minds, to declare our allegiance to one hypothesis or the other?
Remember when we found Pluto and we thought it was ten times the mass of the Earth? Today we understand it to be 0.2% of the Earth’s mass! And remember when we thought that because the Earth is made of dirt and rocks, that the stars had to be made of it, too? Today we understand that stars are hot balls of hydrogen and helium! Remember when we tried to measure the speed of light by taking lanterns on top of mountaintops and trying to time the on/off of the lights? Haha! Today we understand that light can travel the Earth’s surface in seven seconds! Remember when we legitimately thought the Moon had intelligent alien life on it? And then Mars? I mean really. Very distinguished and beloved scientists believed plenty of outlandish things. Not to mention we have used science for really, incredibly inhumane things (ahem, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, etc.).
Science is not perfect. A decent person won’t tell you that science has it all figured out and that religion has it all wrong. Though we have presented evidence over time that says, “Hey, you know how we’ve been interpreting the Earth as being merely a few thousand years old? Well we just found evidence [tons of it] that suggests it is much more exciting and dynamic than we thought!”
This evidence in no way suggests there is no God. It just means we are learning about our world. We are learning that we are only human and therefore, we do not hold all of the answers. If you want to think of it this way, God has given us clues along the way to help us grow closer to him. He has given us this information. He is helping us understand our own, collective purpose. Sometimes he even does things to save us from ourselves.
He can manifest himself as laws of nature. He can manifest himself as the Big Bang that led to the existence of this Universe. He can be the divine intervention in the evolutionary theory that ignites genetic mutation. He can be all of these things.
Science doesn’t say He can’t be a part of this newfound evidence.
My guess is that there has to be some deeper explanation. But that doesn’t mean the explanation has to be what the people themselves report—that they went to heaven and saw a god or gods.
Do you agree that worshipping can be different for everyone? Do you agree that branches of christianity stem from varying interpretations of statements in the bible? This is the same thing. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive pools of thought and the two topics have quite a lot they could learn from each other.
For one, religion can provide science a deeper meaning in research endeavors. Human values and scientific goals should be at the forefront of any endeavor, and never with malice.
This is a learning moment for us all. Not one of us has all of the answers. We are simply all searching for the answers in different ways.
This is not necessary.
It is not the teachings of any God and it is written nowhere in the scientific method. Moving forward, let’s be mindful of our experiences and the information we absorb. Whether you are a religious scientist or a religious science skeptic, keep these things in mind to help yourself (and others) to grow their relationship between science and religion:
1. There are many real mysteries that not even science can explain. Go deeper. Keep asking questions. But most importantly, be okay with not having an explanation. Do not invent explanations that have no support.
If someone claims a thing happens in a certain way, you do the experiment to check it out, to see if, in fact, it works as claimed. You examine the internal coherence of the idea. You test its logical structure. You see how well it agrees with other things which are reliably known. And only then do you start accepting new ideas.
In short, pursue truth while practicing love.
My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts (as well as unable to take such a course of action) if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival. In either case, the enterprise of knowledge is consistent with both science and religion, and is essential for the welfare of our species.