Ronald Haines, Author

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Tag: science

Science versus Religion is Political Media Manipulation

In spite of the way it is so often positioned as science versus religion in the media, science is neither the opposite of nor is it opposed to religion. Science is simply the tool that humans use to search for truth.  In fact, science has historically been sponsored by religions that have used it as a means to study the laws behind the physical world.  While there have been significant clashes throughout history between Christianity and the emergence of new truths that science uncovers before they gain acceptance, the current religion versus science debate is really not reflective of Christian religions as a whole.

Throughout history many scientists have been quite successful in reconciling their religions with science and have proceeded to make tremendous contributions to humanity. Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk who first proposed the basis of heredity and spawned the science of genetics, and the first advocate of the Big Bang theory was a Roman Catholic priest named Georges Lemaître who wrote about a ‘creation event’ at the beginning of the universe.

So where does the current science versus religion (specifically Christianity) debate come from? While many Christians today accept that their faith is personal and does not belong in politics, there are certain fundamentalist factions, such as the charles-robert-darwin-62912creationists, who actively promote their agendas.  Some have tried to present their beliefs using a pseudo-scientific format which they call intelligent design, which states that the biblical story of creation is the literal truth.  They have brought this argument into the political forefront, and militant atheists have responded in kind which has resulted in media sensationalism.  Curiously, even though Charles Darwin was a Christian, it is his theories of evolution and natural selection that have become the fodder for this needless debate between creationists and militant atheists.  Mainstream Christianity, on the other hand, has pretty much accepted that evolution can fit in with their views of the universe.

Much of the friction between Christian fundamentalists and militant atheists is really just media manipulation being used by politicians for personal gain. This so called science versus religion debate is actually driven by politicians taking positions of support behind these two extremes in order to gather votes.  It is this hidden agenda of politicians using their established publicity machines that has enabled the views of both Christian fundamentalists and militant atheists to dominate the media as they attempt to cash in on the huge block of voters that each side represents.  Both sides are being played, and the ongoing ‘debate’ seen in the media has, in reality, very little to do with either science or religion.

Truth is A Transient Axiom

Truth about the world around us can quite easily be defined as the best explanation we have for a situation, that when we apply all of the knowledge available to us, cannot be logically refuted. Since new discoveries are adding to that pool of knowledge on a continual basis, we must accept that today’s truth will only hold until a better explanation comes along, and yesterday’s truth should already be considered suspect.

Truth is therefore both objective and transient, and it is through having an open mind and questioning everything that individuals are free to not only better understand the world they live in, but to also add to the collective knowledge of humanity.

Many people will attempt to make the case that truth is something subjective; stating that what is true for one person is not necessarily true for another. What they are referring to here, however, is not truth but belief.  Believing something to be true is, indeed, a subjective position, but it has little to do with what may actually be true.  Belief in something, especially when that belief is supported by a peer group, may be comforting to a person but it requires that person, that human being, to abdicate thinking.  Such behavior is risky because it may eventually atrophy that person’s ability to reason.

This brings us to a curious human dichotomy regarding the search for truth: while we have the innate drive to ask questions in order to seek out what is true, we also hold steadfastly onto what he have already accepted and seem unwilling to let it go, even in the face of overwhelming evidence otherwise.  This is actually a good trait amongst scientists because it ensures that new truths must be well established by repetitive experiment and observation, a process known as scientific proof, before they gain acceptance.  A newly discovered truth is not something that is readily accepted and it must win the argument before rational minds permit it to displace the old thinking.  This process ensures that we don’t randomly flit from one ‘truth’ to another and only advance to the next truth when it has been sufficiently proven.  Certainly, if you examine the fields of mathematics and physics you’ll recognize some truths that have been with us for centuries, but how many more have been replaced in that time?  We have learned that the earth is neither flat nor is it the center of the universe, for example (although if you choose to believe such things that is entirely your choice).

Recognizing that truth necessarily goes through such an arduous process before being accepted by even the most rational minds, who have to override their internal resistance to something new, one can begin to understand why many of the old ‘truths’ not only still remain but are widely accepted in our societies. Within those societies the individual search for truth has been discouraged for millennia by authority figures who train its members from early childhood to repress that innate drive in favor of following the collective creed.

Truth about the world around us is, therefore, not subjective but highly objective, and the scientific method is a tool that provides us with the means to discovering it. In our world, truth is a transient axiom.