Science? Religion? Or Both?
Science has the correct answers
There are many who argue that the main scientific theories we have studied make it impossible to believe in a creator God. One of the most outspoken ATHEISTS is Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins views on religion include:
- That it stops mankind thinking independently about the world around them
- Scientific theories such as the Big Bang and Evolution are simply ‘common sense’. To not believe simply shows ‘stupidity, ignorance or insanity’
- Beliefs should only be based on evidence. Evidence comes only through science
- Texts such as the Bible are so contradictory that they cannot have any meaning
- Religion developed at a time when people knew no better and needed explanations for the world around them
Religion has the correct answers
Fundamentalist Christians would reject the theories of the Big Bang and Evolution as they contradict the Bible. When science and the Bible conflict, the Bible will be given priority. This is due to the belief that the Bible is the exact word of God and cannot be wrong.
The Creation Museum
This museum was set up in America by Creationists, fundamentalist Christians who accept the Bible word for word. It is one of the most popular attractions in the US and has exhibits showing dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. This goes against scientific fossil evidence but demonstrates the priority given to the Bible.
Many Muslims also reject the theory of Evolution as humans are viewed as Allah’s special creation.
Both religion and science have the correct answers
For many believers there is no contradiction in having a strong faith in God and accepting scientific theories.
- Liberal Christians would say that the Genesis accounts should not be taken literally. They are simply stories with meanings and should be interpreted allegorically. Meaning not fact is important eg day periods could mean millions of years
- The Genesis accounts show how God is responsible for the universe and everything in it. Humans are special and have been given great responsibility for the world around us.
- God started the Big Bang, God was the First Cause (Link to First Cause Argument)
- God started and controls Evolution. This idea is known as Theistic Evolution.
For a Liberal Christian there is no problem combining a belief in science with God.
‘The more I study science, the more I believe in God’
‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind’
One of the most famous physicists at Cambridge University in the 1970s. In 1982 he resigned as Professor of Mathematical Physics to become a priest. Polkinhorne firmly believed that it was possible to combine a belief in God with scientific theory.
- Science and religion are “Friends not foes”
- Science asks ‘How’ & Religion asks ‘Why’
- Need both to understand the rich and many layered world in which we live
- “Two eyes instead of one” to get the full picture
Islam and the Big Bang
Your Lord is God; He who created the heavens and the earth in six days
Do the disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were one mass, and We tore them apart? And We made from water every living thing.
We constructed the universe with power, and We are expanding it.
Many Muslims argue that the scientific theory of the Big Bang is entirely compatible with the teachings of the Qur’an. Science tells us that the universe is of great age, but as we have already seen, Muslims accept that ‘six days’ means six long periods of time, so these could fit together. Science tells us that the universe started with a great explosion. Muslims point out that the Qur’an says something similar: ‘one mass . . . torn apart’. Science also tells us that the universe is expanding. The Qur’an, written long before the beginnings of modern science, seems to say something similar.
For Muslims, science is confirming what the Qur’an already teaches.
Remember – the majority of Muslims do not accept Evolution for human beings though many do for animals.
Exam Tip – Look at the 12 Mark Q below. Can you answer it? If not, please speak with your teacher in class or via e mail.
‘Religion and science are not compatible’ (12)