Science and religion

I have written before, chiefly in my article, On Relative Being, that I have little difficulty seeing science as a religion. I do not think a religion has to focus on a deity – my personal definition emphasizes an attempt to answer the fundamental questions of our existence as a prerequisite for a religion, and gods simply do not have to be the conclusion that is arrived at. Science seeks to answer these questions, along with the how-can-it of things we see all around us. That suffices for me, to consider science a religious expression. Historically, the majority of religions saw things similarly – Islam, for example, considering science as a description of some of the tools their deity uses to make things function the way they do. Monuments around the world also stand as testament to the importance of science in religious expression: the pyramids and Stonehenge are just a few examples that come to mind. That Christianity broke away from this traditional point of view by considering science to be a rival does not, in my opinion, affect what science does or is – and even the Vatican, for all its former (and current) opposition to science, benefited from science then, as it does now.

With that in mind, one might imagine my absolute delight when I found an article in the Sublime Curiosity blog, musing on a way in which science might be able to explain how a dragon might be able to breathe fire (the article is done as a personal thought experiment: in other words, it’s something done for fun, and does not enter into the argument of whether or not dragons actually breathe fire, or whether or not dragons even existed). The author, hobosullivan, has little difficulty admitting where his descriptions wade firmly into the theoretical edges of credibility; but at the same time, is able to point out examples we know to exist in the natural world, where equally incredible things take place. For some of us, who dare to believe in dragons and other fantastic beings, such an experiment might be seen as blessing or curse, depending on how attached we are to mystery.

I thought this might be a great opportunity to pose a question to readers: if you are religious in any way, how do you view science? Does science have a particular place in your religious expression? For readers who may be scientists of any variety, how do you view religion? Do you incorporate science as a religion in its own right, as I do; or do you see the two as being completely separate concepts? How do you see our general regard for these concepts evolving in our future?

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6 responses to “Science and religion

  1. When I think of science and religion, the next thing I think of is alchemy. I remember the medeival era and its use of the four humors, also sacred geometry.

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    • Very good points! Alchemy in particular can claim to have influenced much of the early efforts of modern chemistry, especially with regard to establishing a method of experimentation that, to some extent, still exists; while at the same time having been quite motivated by religious outlooks. One might say that with alchemy, one has a very visible ‘mingling’ of religious and scientific perspectives. What I really like about this example – as well as the sacred geometry that you also brought up – is that this is something that was not limited to Western culture; and with sacred geometry (which would include the pyramids and Stonehenge), you bring up something that can be found not just throughout human cultures, but also throughout history.

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      • I see the sacred geometry in nature too, like flowers and lightening. Also nature imitating other forms in nature, like the shapes of nebulas/galaxies caught on the Hubble telescope. They range from looking like flowers to animals to even eyes. I have a section on my Pinterest called the Garden of the Universe where I show different varieties of these looking like flowers. Another point is I love sigils and incorporate them into my magic practice. Sigils are one example of sacred geometry and are used by many world religions.

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    • Those are some fairly stunning pictures, at least from what I got to see before Pinterest decided to discriminate against me for not having an account with them :-)

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      • Thank you. Yes its a pain to have to register with them. My ipad hates the site because its a wimpy first generation so it keeps crashing.

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