Relationship between religion and science
The relationship between religion and science has been a subject of study since classical antiquity, addressed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. Perspectives from different geographical regions, cultures and historical epochs are diverse, with some characterizing the relationship as one of conflict, others describing it as one of harmony, and others proposing little interaction.
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- Since religion intrinsically rejects empirical methods, there should never be any attempt to reconcile scientific theories with religion. An infinitely old universe, always evolving, may not be compatible with the Book of Genesis. However, religions such as Buddhism get along without having any explicit creation mythology and are in no way contradicted by a universe without a beginning or end. Creatio ex nihilo, even as religious doctrine, only dates to around AD 200. The key is not to confuse myth and empirical results, or religion and science.
- My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?
- Wernher von Braun from a letter to the California State board of Education (14 September 1972)
- In this age of space flight, when we use the modern tools of science to advance into new regions of human activity, the Bible ... this grandiose, stirring history of the gradual revelation and unfolding of the moral law ... remains in every way an up-to-date book. Our knowledge and use of the laws of nature that enable us to fly to the Moon also enable us to destroy our home planet with the atom bomb. Science itself does not address the question whether we should use the power at our disposal for good or for evil. The guidelines of what we ought to do are furnished in the moral law of God. It is no longer enough that we pray that God may be with us on our side. We must learn again that we may be on God's side.
- Wernher von Braun quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings (1993), 42
- Can the Christian proclamation today expect men and women to acknowledge the mythical world picture as true? To do so would be both pointless and impossible. It would be pointless because there is nothing specifically Christian about the mythical world picture, which is simply the world picture of a time now past which was not yet formed by scientific thinking. It would be impossible because no one can appropriate a world picture by sheer resolve, since it is already given with one’s historical situation.
- Rudolf Bultmann, New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings (1984), p. 3
- The most difficult thing to reconcile is science and religion … And so we created a dilemma for her character that plays right into Mulder’s hands. So that cross she wears, which was there from the pilot episode, is all-important for a character who is torn between her rational character and her spiritual side. That is, I think, a very smart thing to do. The show is basically a religious show. It’s about the search for God. You know, "The truth is out there." That’s what it’s about.
- I would not expect religion to be the right tool for sequencing the human genome and by the same token would not expect science to be the means to approaching the supernatural. But on the really interesting larger questions, such as ‘Why are we here?’ or ‘Why do human beings long for spirituality?,’ I find science unsatisfactory. Many superstitions have come into existence and then faded away. Faith has not, which suggests it has reality.
- Everyone else besides the faithful already knows that religion has nothing useful to say to science.
- Jerry Coyne, "Science versus religion: Are they “gifts” to each other?" November 29, 2019
- It is completely unrealistic to claim, as Gould and many others do, that religion keeps itself away from science's turf, restricting itself to morals and values. A universe with a supernatural presence would be a fundamentally and qualitatively different kind of universe from one without. The difference is, inescapably, a scientific difference. Religions make existence claims, and this means scientific claims.
- In the no-man's land between science and theology, there are five specific points at which faith and reason may appear to clash.The five points are the origin of life, the human experience of free will, the prohibition of teleological explanation in science, the argument from design as an explanatory principle, and the question of ultimate aims.
- Freeman Dyson, Infinite in All Directions (1988)
- Early Buddhism emphasises the importance of the scientific outlook in dealing with the problems of morality and religion. Its specific dogmas are said to be capable of verification. And its general account of the nature of man and the universe is one that accords with the findings of science rather than being at variance with them. ... The scientific revolution does not have the same adverse effect on Buddhism as it had on other religious traditions. ... Buddhism ... holds that the honest impartial search for truth even in matters moral and religious is no bar to one’s spiritual progress. ... A scientific outlook was thus considered necessary not only for discovering the truly moral and religious life but even for the continual self-examination which such an outlook demands.
- Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., in Strength to Love (1963), Ch. 1 : A tough mind and a tender heart
- The alternative of science or religion is fictitious once it be granted that the functions of religion are primarily symbolic, expressive and orientative. Every culture must define its ends as well as perfect its means. The logical and symbolic expressions of the ultimate values of a civilization cannot arise directly from scientific investigation, though it is fair to demand that they should not rest upon premises contrary to known fact or proven theory. A mechanistic, materialistic "science" hardly provides the orientations to the deeper problems of life that are essential for happy individuals and a healthy social order.
- Clyde Kluckhohn, in Mirror for Man (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1949), pp. 248-249
- Once you realize that the Bible does not purport to be a textbook of science, the old controversy between religion and science vanishes...
- Monsignor Georges Lemaître, Einstein and Relativity; Lemaître and the Expanding Universe
- Religion to me is science, and science is religion. In that deeply-felt truth lies the secret of my intense devotion to the reading of God's natural works. It is reading Him. His will — His intelligence
- Ada Lovelace, Englische Studien, Volume 19
- "Will to truth" does not mean "I do not want to let myself be deceived" but—there is no alternative—"I will not deceive, not even myself"; and with that we stand on moral ground. ... You will have gathered what I am getting at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests—that even we knowers of today, we godless anti-metaphysicians, still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by the thousand-year-old faith, the Christian faith which was also Plato's faith, that God is truth; that truth is divine.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882), B. Williams, ed. (2001), § 344.
- The reason why all those we have mentioned hold false opinions and make impious or ignorant assertions about God appears to be nothing else but this, that scripture is not understood in its spiritual sense, but is interpreted according to the bare letter.
- Origen of Alexandria, “How divine scripture should be interpreted,” On First Principles, book 4, chapter 2, § 2, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 69.
- Our contention with regard to the whole of divine scripture is that it all has a spiritual meaning, but not all a bodily meaning; for the bodily meaning is often proved to be an impossibility.
- Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles, in Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 75.
- Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations... To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.
- Max Planck Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937).
- How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"?
- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), p. 52.
- Pythagoras, Ptolemy, Kepler, Copernicus, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton and Einstein... These great men, they have been the makers of one side of humanity, which has two sides. We call the one side religion, and we call the other science. Religion is always right. Religion protects us against that great problem which we all must face. Science is always wrong; it is the very artifice of men. Science can never solve one problem without raising 10 more problems.
- George Bernard Shaw, in a dinner speech at the Savoy Hotel, London (28 October 1930), as quoted by Michael Holroyd, "Albert Einstein, Universe Maker," The New York Times (14 March 1991).
- Since this is the age of science, not religion, psychiatrists are our rabbis, heroin is our pork, and the addict is the unclean person.
- Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (New York: 1973), p. 64
- For instance, do you know the story about Father on the day they first tested a bomb out at Alamagordo? After the things went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, 'Science has now known sin.' And do you know what Father said? He said, 'What is sin?'
- The early fathers of the Church ... impressed upon Christendom more and more strongly the belief that the universe was created in a perfectly literal sense by the hands or voice of God. Here and there sundry theologians of larger mind attempted to give a more spiritual view regarding some parts of the creative work, and of these were St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine. Ready as they were to accept the literal text of Scripture, they revolted against the conception of an actual creation of the universe by the hands and fingers of a Supreme Being, and in this they were followed by Bede and a few others; but the more material conceptions prevailed.
- Eine Religion, welche nicht oder nicht mehr fähig ist, sich auf die Höhe der erworbenen Wissenschaft zu erheben, ist eine tote Religion.
- A religion, which is not able or no more able to raise to the height of acquired science, is a dead religion.
- Leopold Zunz Quoted in Lippische Mitteilungen aus Geschichte und Landeskunde, Volume 75, p. 127.
- A religion, which is not able or no more able to raise to the height of acquired science, is a dead religion.
- Allegorical interpretation of the Bible
- A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White
- Intelligent Design
- Mathematics and mysticism
- Non-overlapping magisteria
- Islam and science