Science and religion offer different methods for the human being to interpret one’s place in the universe. Prior to the Enlightenment, religion was the ultimate authority of information as to where humans came from and what their purpose in life entailed. Science utilized empirical evidence to assert truth while religion required the belief of those who practiced their faith. Both offices ask for society to believe in the policy and procedure ascribed by the officials, however, science offers observable proof to back up their claims. Religion is not empty handed, and the believers incorporate compassionate consideration for the existence of a higher power – displayed not in empirical terms but relying on sentiment, feeling, and a natural connection to their deity. Science and religion are not equal contenders. I see a place for both offices in modern society, I do not see them sitting at the same tables – they are different, and at times, opposing methods used to address the human position.
Science and religion have different theories regarding the origins of existence as well as the place and purpose of homo sapiens. William Paley offered a theory to unite science and religion. His book Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), was required reading at Christ’s College of Cambridge University. The text included the famous metaphor of the watch and the watchmaker, presenting a case for God as the watchmaker to create and tend his watch (life). BMW noted Darwin as developing his theory of natural selection from inspiration presented by Paley; he said, “…Darwin took from his reading of Paley a belief in adaptation – that organisms are somehow fit for the environments in which they live, that their structure reflects the functions they perform throughout their lives.” Religion, when forced to answer difficult questions, had to accept that bad things happened even though God was granted the ability to “fix” any error in the organic world. BMW said, “Paley struggled to reconcile the apparent cruelty and indifference of nature with his belief in a good God, and finally concluded that the joys of life simply outweighed its sorrows.” After all, philosophically, if one does not experience pain and sadness then one will not recognize joy and happiness.
In “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul,” Edward Humes spoke for the Dole Institute on the conflicts of evolutionism and creationist theory. The video showed me that people are completely able to believe different realities based on their subjective perspective regarding how they want to interpret their own existence. In Dover, PA, the teacher and administrators did not want evolution taught in science class. Humes said, “During the presentation on intelligent design, the administers of the district instructed the students not to ask questions.” The fundamental purpose of education is to acquire information by answering questions. Robbing the students of simply questioning authority could result in those students not trusting authority. However, I suppose the belief must fill in all the cracks – the concept is to trust in one’s religion, therefore, those with authority should be in league with the ultimate power. I agree with Humes that teaching evolution is conflictive with religious belief. I think that the offices of religion and science do not belong together, and should not compete with one another anymore than I think home-economics and history should have a duel. They do not coincide or work with each other – one is objective empirical theory and the other is sentimental expression/connection with an outside force. Both, however, are human expressions. If religion wants a school of thought to support it, I think it would be more beneficial to turn to literature and the arts and wisely leave science alone.
The real issue I see is found in education – the information that is presented to the youth. Science offers evolution, and biology rather relies on it to justify medicine, surgery, and technological advances – withholding this information from young minds seems criminal to me, and also when they find out later in life, they may look back spitefully at both science and religion, or really, authority in general. Not providing any answer is still going to present a negative outcome because it makes it look like authority itself does not know what is really going on, therefore, why would anyone believe what authority said sometimes if it was not always aware. Before the Enlightenment, religion was not questioned but accepted as true. Look what happened when the scientific method stormed the stage – society still feels the shudder.
BMW. “William Paley (1743-1805).” ucmp.berkeley.edu. 21 Aug 1996. Web. 12 Jan 2016.
Humes, Edward. “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and theBattle for America’s Soul.” YouTube, 11 May 2012. Web. 11 Jan2016.
Picture c/o: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Religion_in_SF.png
 BMW, “William Paley.”
 BMW, “William Paley.”
 BMW, “William Paley.”
 Humes, “Monkey Girl,” 20:35-20:40.