The point at which two conflicting ideas converge is a point of intrigue- a point where many new ideas are forged and great discoveries made. It is at this point where you are forced to negate one or the other- or choose a whole new path where the two points can coexist.
The point at which science and religion conflict is divisive and clear. Science looks at observable data to draw conclusions about the world around us. It uses these conclusions to make predictions and create new entities. Religion looks at unobservable data and discusses occurrences that cannot be analyzed. Conversely, religion analyzes man’s search for meaning by discussing an afterlife, souls, eternity, a higher good and transcendence. Science analyzes man’s search for meaning by discussing evolutionary needs that must be satisfied.
Either side can totally negate the other side, choosing to ignore the other completely. Yet there are compelling reasons why neither side should.
One may say that religious people have a greater need to resolve this conflict. Looking at undeniable, observable data that conflicts with religious texts or religious beliefs, should compel religious people to figure out ways to navigate the issues if they want to keep their religion current. Evolution, common ancestors, DNA, biblical analysis… It will become less and less easy for religious sects to ignore the reality and truth of scientific data.
However, I feel that people looking at the world from a purely scientific perspective should feel compelled to resolve this conflict with just as great of a need. If this entire world is just a random occurrence, then we know where it is heading. Estimates say in around 7 billion years the sun will turn into a Red Giant and consume Earth. Even prior to this, the Earth will be scorched and be uninhabitable. This will likely occur in one billion years. Billions of years may seem long. But relative to eternity, a billion years is just a blimp in time. And then it will be all over. All the scientific advances, discoveries, ideas and inventions will all be gone forever. And it all will have been pointless. For what will it matter once it is all over? Thinking you are doing something meaningful by dedicating your life to understanding the world or helping future generations is foolish- it’s just stalling while waiting for the inevitable. It’s just satisfying some basic human evolutionary needs to feel important, to feel meaningful, to feel needed, to feel intelligent.
I love science and always have. You can look right in front of you and see objects and movement and think nothing of them. But then, you can just open your mind a tiny crack and there are endless possibilities to think about. There is so much going on all around you at every moment- so much to imagine, analyze, understand and explain. At any given moment, you can let your mind wander and just think about everything around you. Cells, atoms, light, energy, matter, force, theories, hypotheses… It’s fascinating and endless. It’s like limitless secret worlds all exploding at once, all right in front of you, and all hidden. Constant fuel for imagination. Constant intellectual stimulation. In a way, the history of science is a history of the world- tracking our development and understanding of life around us.
But to me, belief in a God and belief in a purpose that is eternal make science worthwhile. You can tell me it’s just my basic human evolutionary need making me need to believe in something more. To that I will say, I am prepared to risk it. If there isn’t anything more than randomness, the implications are too devastating and make life not worth living. Just end it now. But if there is a God and there is more than just this world, then all the science is valuable and worthwhile. All the improvements we make for mankind are meaningful for eternity. All the understanding we come to about this world has a purpose.
And so, a very simple and basic way to divert these two conflicting ideas from colliding is to move them onto two separate tracks. Let science analyze and predict all the “ how”s. Let religion give underlying meaning to it all. Look to religious text as inspiration, as giving meaning to observable occurrences. Look to science to understand and predict occurrences. Let them travel together, but each on their own track. It can work. I challenge you to try!