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Conflict: Science against Religion sample essay

Throughout the ages science and religion have struggled with one another. They both are constantly striving to gain the upper hand against the other. Within this struggle both are trying to assert the fact that their ideas are accurate and how the others ideas are inaccurate. Science yearns to answer the questions of how things happen through the means of solid facts. Religion, on the other hand, seeks to answer the question of why things occur and its thought process is grounded in faith. Some believe that the two views are not in turmoil with one another. This thought process is extremely skewed because these two belief systems contradict one another consistently and believers of each view then struggle to prove their perspective is correct. Science and religion, “do not have the same viewpoints about the nature of the world or agree about how truth is perceived or confined” (Neese, 2001). These two ideologies are at war with one another. The issues between the two cannot be overlooked or brushed under the rug because there are too many opposing aspects. Because of this there is no way for these two ideologies to coexist harmoniously.

When science and religion have overlapping topics that attempt to answer the same questions, conflict occurs between believers of each theory. A good example of this overlap is the Evolution theory. This theory has caused controversy from its beginnings in history. Evolution, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is “a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations” (Webster, 2012). The placement of this theory in high school text books has been very controversial. Multiple court cases have been fought over the theory of evolution and its existence within public schools’ curriculum. There are cases dating back from 1968 up until present day arguing about whether this theory should be taught to students (Masamura & Mead, 2001).

According to religion, God made all things. This is known as creationism. Within the creationism theory there is no margin for compromise. God made man and there is no other explanation in accordance with the creationism theory. The Theory of Evolution contradicts everything that religion is based on. The Bible says that God created the animals but he also created man. The Bible speaks nothing of God creating animals and they evolving into mankind, so the idea that religious parties could agree with the evolutionary theory and accept it is ludicrous. Regardless of whether it is acknowledged or not, science is deeming what religion believes as a lie. There is no way to avoid the turmoil that it causes by attempting to prove that God didn’t make man but instead we evolved from animals. Debates regarding where mankind comes from seems to elevate tempers and leads to arguments. History shows us that people have not agreed upon these two opinions and it has led to judicial action because there could not be an agreement made about the subjects.

These are not issues of the past but are still currently raging throughout society even today. It is absurd to think that the theory of creationism and the theory of evolution do not cross over into one another and create conflict. How could two views that are polar opposites possibly be agreed upon? It is a simple answer; they can and will not be agreed upon. Another argument that rages between science and religion is the argument about the approximate age of the Earth. Science believes that the Earth is billions of years old; meanwhile, religious groups believe that the Earth is approximately 10,000 years old. Scientists believe that the earth can be dated back over 4 billion years using a method of Argon-Argon dating (Robins, 2006). On the other hand religious groups use the Bible as a reference to date the earth. Science argues that their method of dating is accurate and they have found fossils that are millions of year old; yet, religion argues that “The Great Flood” trapped carbon around the fossils and therefore would negate the carbon dating process that is typically used when dating fossils (Fossil, 2011).

There are drastic differences between the timeline that science has created and the one religion uses. Science relies on gathering evidence that allows a conclusion to be made about the Earth’s age; meanwhile, religion relies upon the Bible and declares nothing can be questioned because the Bible is absolute. The argument regarding the age of the Earth is definitely a continuing issue. These two viewpoints have no common ground and will continue to conflict one another. The question of why someone is a homosexual has plagued debates for years. This argument is very emotional for a lot of people. Science and religion both have very opposing views of this topic. Some scientists believe that homosexuality is linked to genetics and have been trying to locate the gene that causes someone’s homosexuality (Abrams, 2007).

Yet, religious sects believe that homosexuality is a choice. Science is trying to prove that people do not choose to be gay but instead are born with the predisposition to like someone of the same gender. In religious groups this view is widely rejected because the Bible states that homosexuality is wrong, and God would not make someone more prone to “sin”. The debate regarding the origins of why someone lives the homosexual lifestyle has not fully been pinpointed in science yet but this still doesn’t calm the argument with religious groups. The fight over giving homosexuals the right to legally marry in the U.S. gives us a good example of how heated this debate actually is and how far it is from being resolved. Several states have voted to allow gay marriage while the majority of states still have not latched on to the idea due to religious backgrounds within the communities. Not as widely discussed but still a conflicting issue for science and religion is the issue of death. The belief in the hereafter, or lack thereof, is strongly debated among scientists and religious groups. Science does not prove or disprove the existence of anything occurring after death.

Some scientists argue that the phenomenon of an out of body experience is simply the result of the brain continuing to work even though the body does not (Fitzpatrick, 2010). This discredits people’s stories of experiencing the hereafter and coming back from it. Religion gives a greater purpose in life and the ultimate goal is to spend eternity in the heavenly realm. By some scientists disregarding the possibility of a hereafter it adds to the tension that already exists between religion and science. Since science leaves for the possibility that nothing exists after we die, it doesn’t support the theory that religion does. In not supporting the idea of something existing after we die, it creates an invisible wall between science and religion and leaves room for argumentative discussions. One of the most overlooked conflicts between science and religion is the separation of the languages. There are multiple theories about how language developed and changed according to science.

Most scientists will agree that they believe evolution played a large part in the diversity of languages. Science bases the evolution of multiple languages on people slightly changing their current dialect as they migrated to different regions. Many scientists believe that the first language was developed somewhere in Africa (Wade, 2011). Religion seeks a completely different approach to the development of the separate languages. Religion bases the changing of dialects to the event that occurred at the tower of Babel, as recorded by the Bible. The Bible says that people were joining together to build a tower to reach to heaven. God was displeased with this act so he separated the languages so the people could no longer understand one another; thus, stopping their ability to work together to build the tower (Genesis 11, KJV). These two counter ideas both answer the question of how languages evolved but in two extremely different ways. In no way are these two theologies coexisting seeing that there are no similarities between their theories. People argue about the existing conflict between religion and science.

Some argue for the presence of a conflict, while others argue that turmoil simply does not exist between the two. A man by the name of Stephen Jay Gould “referred to the non-overlapping magisterial of science and religion, with the former describing reality – what is – and the latter dealing with values – how we ought to act” (Fish, 2010). Gould argued in his book, “Rock of Ages”, “that science and religion can coexist because they occupy two separate spheres of the human experience. According to Gould, science and God are inherently divided and thus can easily co-exist in the human belief system. Science, he argues, answers questions of fact, while religion covers questions of morality” (Clark, n.d.). Many people have the same viewpoint as Gould or a similar one. This argument suggests that these two ideologies run parallel to one another, therefore there is no possible way for them to conflict. By making this kind of claim it is saying that there is a limit to what science can investigate and theorize about.

If science and religion do not overlap as Gould and many others suggest, then it would box these two ideologies in and limit their topics of discussion. In reality, this can never occur. You cannot limit the topics in which both science and religion have opinions about, because this would be the only way for these two to have no overlapping viewpoints. This argument defines science and religion as being two separate entities that do not cross over into one another. This is not reality however. Whether it be creation, sexual preference, death, or the separation of languages; all of these things have obviously been delved into by both science and religion. The argument that these two approaches of doctrine exist parallel is unrealistic. If that were the case then that would mean that no topic discussed by science or religion has ever or will ever be of the same subject. As everyone knows, throughout history science and religion have undoubtedly had discussions about the same subject matter; thus, negating the whole basis for Gould’s argument and others who believe as he does.

If logic is used and we look at both of these ways of thinking we see the drastic difference in their opinions. This leads to a dialogue about who is right and who is wrong. There is no middle ground with these conflicting views. “Science is based on verifiable facts, whereas religion rests on faith that is not amendable to verification” (Dias, 2010). These two thought processes show no similarities; therefore, they do not have common ground and cannot agree. The desire for knowledge will always be prevalent in the human race. With this obtained knowledge comes theory and with theory comes disputes. Here stems the disagreements between science and religion. The never ending feud about whose viewpoint is right is raging as strong today as it has been in the past. The conflicts encountered within these two ideologies have no end in the foreseeable future.

Their methodologies keep these two polar opposites continually disputing with one another. If there is a way for science and religion to harmoniously exist with one another, society has yet to find it. There are utopian ideas that attempt to reconcile science and religions altercations but no attempt at calming this argument has been successful thus far. Albert Einstein said that “science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind,” (Neese, 2001). His statement is rather idealistic and unfortunately we do not currently live in a world where this way of thinking is widespread. No matter how good it would be for these two groups to coexist, it will never happen due to their drastically different views. Maybe in time things will progress but as for now the two remain at war with one another.

References
Abrams, M. (2007). BORN GAY?. Discover, 28: 58-83. Retrieved Friday, August 10, 2012 from
EBSCOhost database.
Clark, Josh. (n.d.) Can God and Science Co-exist? Retrieved from http://science.howstuff works.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/god-science-co-exist.htm. DIAS, P. (2010). Is Science Very Different from Religion? A Polanyian Perspective. Science & Christian Belief, 22(1), 43-55.

“Evolution”. (2012). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from http://www. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evolution.
Fish, J. M. (2010). Science VS Religion DEBATE. Humanist,70(4), 27-31. Fitzpatrick,L. (2010). Is There Such a Things as Life After Death?. Time. Retrieved from
http://www.Time.com.
Fossil and Radiosiotope Dating. (2011). Retrieved August 28, 2012, from http://creationscience today.com/28-Carbon-14_Dating.html
Helden, A.V. (1995). The Galileo Project. Retrieved from http://galileo.rice.edu/bio/narrative _7.html.
Masamura,M. , Mead, L. (2001). Ten Major Court Cases About Evolution and Creationism.
Retrieved from http://ncse.com/taking-action/ten-major-court-cases-evolution-
Creationism.
Neese, L. H. (2001). SCIENCE vs. RELIGION: The Challenge of Interpretation. USA Today Magazine, 130(2674), 70.
Robins, M. (2006). How We Know Earth’s Age. Discover, 27(3), 22-23. Retrieved Friday,
August 10, 2012 from EBSCOhost database.
Wade, N. (2011). Phonetic Clues Hint Language is Africa – Born. New York Times, Retrieved
from http://newyorktimes.com.

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