From Religions Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:
For more information, see the TalkOrigins Archive article:
For more information, see the TalkOrigins Archive article:

Science is a broad term describing a number of fields of study or knowledge. While it can be colloquially used to refer to a number of skills, its usage in this wiki generally refers to the system of discovery and invention based on empirical evidence and experimentation rooted in methodological naturalism. The means by which science is executed is known as the scientific method.

Relationship with religion[edit]

Science has had a long and at times adversarial relationship with religion.

Early origins of science[edit]

For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Many early scientists believed that the natural world was a "book of nature" which, along side scripture, was part of God's revelation to humans. However, as natural philosophers began using experimentation and systematic investigation, serious omission and errors in both scripture and classical philosophy began to emerge.

"Philosophy is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols, in which it is written."

Galileo Galilei

"Some people, in order to discover God, read a book. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above and below, note, read. God whom you want to discover, did not make the letters with ink; he put in front of your eyes the very things that he made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?"

Augustine of Hippo [2]

"There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures [i.e. natural phenomena] which express his power."

Francis Bacon

However, to claim that "Christianity invented science" is an over simplification. In a sense, science grew out of religion.


Some commentators believe that science and religion could never be in disagreement, so there is no problem. Francis Collins, a leading geneticist, is one apologist that argues that science and religion are complimentary. Others consider religion and science to address entirely separate issues (i.e. they are nonoverlapping magisteria). However, if a religion claims that miracles occur in an observable manner, we should expect to have reliable evidence of their occurrence.

"For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts."

Albert Einstein [3]

Only 36.6% of US scientists believe that scientific and religious knowledge is in conflict. [4]

Some literalist fundamentalists claim that science and religion are not compatible because it contradicts their interpretation of scripture. One of the most vocal groups that hold this view are young earth creationists.

Anti-science apologetics[edit]

The primary anti-science claim of apologists is that science cannot provide sufficiently accurate knowledge about reality as it relies on naturalistic methodologies which exclude supernatural explanations.

Another common anti-science claim is that since there are so many things that science doesn't have the answers for, it is incomplete and thus unworthy of belief.

Many people dismiss the findings of science because science "keeps changing", because that supposedly makes it unreliable.

Counter arguments[edit]

Science has proven to be the only consistently reliable method of defining reality. Science, by definition, cannot consider supernatural explanations as they are simply unverifiable assertions. Supernatural explanations have yet to provide any reliable, verifiable information about reality, and hence remain a matter of faith. If a supernatural claim does contain scientifically testable assertions, then those assertions may be tested to see if they hold up in nature. However, even if the tests verify the assertions, the supernatural claim itself will remain unverified until the remaining parts of it that previously had no way of being tested do.

The fact that science doesn't currently have all the answers to every question about life, the universe, and everything certainly doesn't mean that science as a whole is unreliable. Two centuries ago science had very little information (and in many cases none at all) about things like quantum mechanics, dark matter, the age of the universe, etc. However, nowadays we know much more simply because science is constantly progressing. Indeed, the rate of scientific progression seems to increase the more we learn. It's not illogical to expect that we will soon have answers for those questions that Creationists (for example) tout as holes in scientific knowledge.

By contrast, religion does not appear to advance human knowledge in any consistent or reliable way. Most knowledge contained in religions is not unique to the religion and could be considered to be "folk wisdom".

Assumption of no first cause[edit]

"There is a kind of religion in science . . . every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause.. . . [5]"

This is a straw man because scientists don't worry about a first cause because it is not something they can investigate. Science needs to be reproducible and one off events are not.

Reproducibility crisis in science[edit]

For more information, see the Wikipedia article:
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Commercial pressures on academic scientists are at the point of significantly undermining certain areas of research. Often, published results cannot be reproduced by other scientists and this implies their published conclusions were false. Making unsubstantiated claims is too often rewarded while activities that keep scientists honest are not incentivized. The degree of the problem seems to vary between disciplines, with medical research, cognitive neuroscience and psychology being of particular concern. [6]

"The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, 'poor methods get results'. [7]"

While some scientists agree there is a problem, there is little agreement on how it should be addressed. On major tool for avoid biases is to conduct meta analysis studies that considers the overall picture based on many separate studies that examine the same thing. While the reproducibility problem is significant, various theories like evolution or the Big Bang are unlikely to be overturned.


Apologists like Norman Geisler argue that scientists are not motivated to question theories such as evolution because their funding and reputation depends on its continuity. This is an misunderstanding of how individual scientists actually make discoveries and publish their work.

"One of the most cherished hopes of a scientist is to make an observation that shakes up a field of research. [...] any assumption that a conspiracy could exist among scientists to keep a widely current theory alive when it actually contains serious flaws is completely antithetical to the restless mind-set of the profession."

Francis Collins, The Language of God


See also[edit]

External links[edit] entry on science

v · d Science
v · d General science
Scientific method   Scientific theory · Hypothesis · Evidence · Examining claims · Skepticism
Scientific Disciplines   Physics · Biology · Chemistry · Psychology · Medical Science · Mathematics
History of science   Heliocentrism · Quantum mechanics
Champions of reason   Carl Sagan · James Randi

v · d Biology
Evolution   Natural selection
Abiogenesis   The Urey-Miller experiment
Evolutionary straw men   Life just exploded from nothing · So you think we came from monkeys · How did the first dog find a mate · Crocoducks · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Irreducible complexity · Chuck Missler's jar of peanut butter · What good is half a wing?
Notable Biologists   Charles Darwin · Richard Dawkins · PZ Myers
Notable quacks   William Dembski · Michael Behe · Geoffrey Simmons · Ken Ham · Michael Cremo

v · d Physics
Concepts   Cosmology · Big bang · Relativity theory · Black holes · Quantum mechanics
Physics straw men   Fine-tuning argument · Anthropic principle
Notable Physicists   Isaac Newton · Albert Einstein · Richard Feynman · Stephen Hawking
Notable Quacks   Dinesh D'Souza · Ray Comfort

v · d Mathematics
Statistics   Sample size · Selection bias · Standard deviation · Statistical significance · Statistical probability · Meta probability · Gambler's fallacy
Mathematics and religion   Biblical value of pi