What is the relationship between science and religion?
This is the second of “20 Questions for Spiritual Seekers” on the Matador website. On the surface, there seems to be a superficial answer: both are a search—sometimes asking the same questions—to explain life and the world around us. Of course they’re not exactly the same. In fact, for much of modern history the two have been widely perceived to be incompatible. With scientific discoveries such as Darwin’s theory of evolution; plate tectonics indicating a much older Earth than previously thought; and Freudian psychology which promised to explain our very thoughts, science seemed to aspire to provide us with eventual explanations for everything. In spite of these amazing discoveries, the Twentieth Century didn’t usher in an age of enlightenment, but instead new wars and genocide on an unprecedented scale. Science didn’t have all the answers.
Happily, however, leading scientific voices are increasingly saying that not only may science and religion be compatible, but that advances in scientific understanding may actually provide some support for faith. From astronomy to genetics, the order and intricate detail being discovered indicates to some of their discoverers that there must be a Master Designer behind that design. These scientists are “learning” what some of history’s leading scientists like Galileo had believed: that their work supported, not disproved, the existence of God. This turn of events is fantastic for someone like me who appreciates logic but also wants to believe. I now have “permission” to believe in both, and so I do.
“Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but both look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect.” –Freeman Dyson, physicist