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The Dichotomy of Science and Religion

By: Alain Jove A. Rosales

The Dichotomy of Science and Religion By: Alain Jove A. Rosales The idea that religion and

The idea that religion and science are two opposing poles is something that has been subject to debates for many centuries. This irreconcilable dichotomy seems to be an immutable truth in a society bound by stereotypical close-minded notions. It seems that there’s a great divide between each disciplines' pursued truths. Take for instance, science deals with the laws of nature, the workings of the cycles of the heavens, the atomic structures and its properties. In short, it deals with the workings of life in the microcosmic and macrocosmic level; within the realm of the corporeal. Whilst, religion claims to go beyond it; dealing with traditions, rituals, and even to the point of immortalizing myths and the supernatural. Anything dealing with the subject of god is within the religious sphere; yet one can question: is it not also the role of science in explaining the laws of nature, of cause and effect which are just the manifestations of a Supreme Being?

This rift between science and religion had its beginnings in the conflict of a flat earth, as opposed to a spherical one. As presented by Joseph Francis Alward in his compendium of biblical skepticisms (Skeptical Views of Christianity and the Bible); the Genesis 1:6-8 (King James Version) passage reflects the old and primitive idea of the earth. The passage goes: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven." Alward presented that the old notion of the earth was having two bodies of water, the heavens and the oceans. The former was considered a "body of water” since it is how primitive society account for the source of rain; the waters falling down from the sky so to speak. From another of Alward's article (Bad Science), he also presented how the authors of Job got this same primitive worldview since Chapter 38 verses 12-13 said "take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it"; which implies that the Job author could've only conceived of this passage if he were thinking of a flat earth since grabbing a circular ball earth "by its edges" could not be plausible in this statement.

Further, Job 38:14 states that "the earth shapes like clay under a seal" to which clay is pressed flat by seals which is again contrary to a round earth, Alward presented. Also, Jesus' temptation in the desert points to the same worldview, where "The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them" (Matthew 4:1-2); to which Alward criticized that "certainly if the earth were flat, standing atop 'an exceedingly high mountain' would allow Jesus to see the whole earth, but there is no mountain tall enough to allow him to see the other side of a spherical earth. At most, one hemisphere would be seen, but not the other." And lastly, the same author noted that Daniel's tall tree vision is another evidence of the flat

earth worldview. Daniel 4:10-11 states that: "The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great. The tree grew and became

strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth." Alward commented that "no matter how tall the tree was, even if it was only a dream, it would not have been visible from the other side of the earth."

Another manifestation of the dichotomy between science and religion is seen in the 15th and 16th centuries. The infamous church conflict spawned by the debate of an earth-centered universe against a sun-centered one dethroned the "authority" of the church regarding the heavens. In Dan Burstein's book The Secrets of Angels and Demons; it was pointed out that in the beginning there never really was a war between religion and science, it was actually just a war between two sciences. The earth-centered universe theory of Claudius Ptolemy (circa 100-170 AD) to which the church advocated and the heliocentric (sun-centered) one of Copernicus (1473-1543); whom Galileo (1564- 1642) had carried the gauntlet; proving the church wrong by utilizing the telescope in observing the cosmic dots that hover above us.

Moving forward in time, the 18th century's Age of Enlightenment was a movement towards an Age of Reason, governed by the precepts of philosophy and logic, advancement of the arts, cultural studies and the likes (and religion seemed to be excluded or not a pressing issue to be forwarded); which were absent during the Middle Ages (Circa 350-1450 AD) commonly referred to as the Dark Ages of civilization. The enlightenment was aimed at restoring Aristotle’s Rational Animal to the steeds he once sat on; because the Dark Ages had brought about religious fanaticism tantamount to what you may ironically call a Golden Age of Ignorance. During this age, superstition was in its highest peak as witchcraft prevailed and the dictatorship of religion along with it. Even the priests, friars and popes fell prey to this superstitious fervor as the infamous book Maleus Malifecarum was penned down to instruct the Inquisition on how to torture individuals who were "empowered" by demons. In today's standards, this book was written from an idiot's perspective; based on the premise that witches and evil-doers can be rightfully tortured since the devil gives them strength to withstand even the strongest of tortures. Tell that to the Geneva Convention and for sure you'll be laughed at and ridiculed! Although, during the Age of Enlightenment, there is not much debates going on between science and religion (because church censorship was rampant against “heretics”!); conspiracy theorists have premised that secret organizations are busy brewing their agendas in the backdrop of historical events. Names such as the Illuminati, Priory of Sion and the Freemasons are easily associated with the scientific community and the underground movement, alongside philosophers, artists, noblemen, musicians and even poets (although they may have earlier origins).

Today, society still has that rift between science and religion like the chasm described by Adler (in the concluding lines of his book How to Think about God); in referring to religion as the one that fills the gap between man and God. Yet science is also a tool to enable one to cross that chasm of the unknown to which not even religion can explain! Religion, like Science had several schisms even within itself. During the past, the former experienced Antipopes such as Urban VI (1318-89, served as pope on 1378-89), whose election marked the beginning of the Great Schism (1054 AD) between the Western (Germanic-influenced) and the Eastern Orthodox (Hellenistic) church. In the period of the schisms, two or three popes existed resulting from a willful separation from the Roman dictatorship (although the separation doesn't necessarily imply a deviation of doctrines to which most people think of). Science, too, had its share of "schisms" as paradigms vary from different fields as to agree on matters such as genetics, cloning and its repercussions on human ethics, archaeology, history, and even psychological approaches.

On the whole, however; society is maturing from the crude and brutish notion of a dichotomy between science and religion. New worldviews have been formed in the course of the century. And this is due to the influx of new ideas from various sides of the globe. The once limited "known worlds" have been reduced to mere global communities interlinked with each other in the commercial network of globalization. With the internet as a catalyst for change and information dissemination, new philosophies emerge thru the combination of Eastern and Western influences. People have become more open-minded and critical as to what beliefs should or should not be believed, in a way, people have become more comparative in their approach; drawing sharp contrasts to, as what Richard Dawkins puts it, "Believing because you've been told to believe" against "believing because you've looked at the evidence." Although Dawkins seem adamant at the attitude of religion and the way the flock believes in certain phenomenon such as the so-called miracles and things corrupting the mind-the one he calls the virus of faith; he refers only to methodology or precepts used by religion. According to him, in his two-part video documentary The God Delusion and The Virus of Faith, "Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable



the power of institutions and the passage of time." While "science is a discipline of

... investigation and constructive doubt, questing with logic, evidence and reason to draw conclusions; Faith, by stark contrast, demands a positive suspension of critical faculties." He adds that "for many people, part of growing up is killing the virus of faith with a good dose of rational thinking. But if an individual doesn't succeed in shaking it off; his mind is stuck in a permanent state of infancy and ... there is a real danger that it will infect the next generation. And this is where religion capitalizes on."

Personally, the downfall of science is when it goes against ethical and moral standards of society, but even society doesn't have the ultimate say on this and there is the conflict of relativism as opposed to the absolutist ideals of conservatives. It is the scientist's dilemma of playing God as popularized by movies such as Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, which makes some scientists evil-doers who manipulate nature through science for his own selfish ends. Religion, on the other hand tends to be arrogant in its position on religious dogma, along with the self-proclaimed infallibility of the pope which is in essence NOT in a matter-of-fact infallible. If only stringent rules are imposed against the validation of miracles, the proclamation of saints, and other beliefs in relation to it; then maybe those inclined more into science couldn’t just throw away religion into the waste bin

of the obsolete, but instead preserve it among the institutions of a high-tech society. James Frazer had already theorized (based on his study of primitive cultures) in his book the Golden Bough that man progresses from sorcery, magic, religion and ultimately into science; yet Joseph Campbell in a way disagrees with this since the symbols provided by religion are still essential for the survival of society. Campbell emphasized that the old meanings may be superfluous already in changing times, but can still be modified for the consumption of contemporary life.

Ultimately, the element that can create cohesion between science and religion would be a

real paradigm shift; an opening of the mind in which things are seen differently than what people are

most accustomed to. The "turning [of] untested belief into unshakeable truth

through the power of

... institutions and the passage of time" should be eradicated from people's minds since repetition of rituals and continuity of beliefs based on some unverified notion does NOT necessarily imply authenticity, even if one insists that there is a germ of truth in beliefs, myths and tradition. To a certain degree, Einstein was right to say that "Science without religion is lame; religion without

science is blind" because both work for the same Supreme Being-the one we call God.

In relation to this, James Ray's lines in Rhonda Byrne's book (The Secret) sounds appropriate in concluding this article of bridging the dichotomy between science and religion, he said: "Most people define themselves by this finite body, but you're not a finite body. Even under a microscope you're an energy field. What we know about energy is this: You go to a quantum physicist and you say, "What creates the world?" And he or she will say, "Energy." Well, describe energy. Objective forms and so we find that the law is the creative force behind every manifestation, not only of atoms, but of worlds, of the Universe, of everything of which the imagination can form any conception. OK, it can never be created or destroyed, it always was, always has been, everything that ever existed always exists, it's moving into form, through form and out of form." You go to a theologian and ask the question, "What created the Universe?" And he or she will say, "God." OK, describe God. "Always was and always has been, never can be created or destroyed, all that ever was, always will be, always moving into form, through form and out of form." You see, it's the same description, just different terminology."