Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is Science a Religion?

  1. Apr 11, 2005 #1
    Is http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=science&x=17&y=10, we see that worship of God is worship of an ultimate truth based in fact.

    It is easy to accept that religion worships an ultimate truth. but it does not seem clear that science worships an ultimate truth. We understand worship as reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power. Divinity, or the state of being divine, proceeds directly from a God, which has already been defined as an ultimate truth based in fact. Certainly science has a reverence for truth or it would defy its own definition.

    There is still some ambiguity because religion has faith in an ultimate truth that is supernatural. This is irrational because it assumes faith in unobservable phenomena. Science has faith in reason, using the observable to prove ultimate reality. Basically, the goal of science is to prove the existence of God! This is irrational because it is trying to prove the existence of the supernatural. They have an almost opposite dogma, but they must intersect at some point.

    This seems to prove to me that irrational beliefs are as vital to human intelligence as rational belief is to the existence of God. Speculative nonsense is as important as indoctrinated logic. Irrational beliefs about the unobservable (speculative nonsense) give rise to new ideas that may one day become the cornerstone of understanding (indoctrinated logic). But to be trapped in either one would produce no usable results.

    Would this philosophy hold true for science and religion as well? I realize all the definition hashing doesn't really prove or change anything. This theory is based in speculation. What are your opinions?

    What was the question?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2005 #2
    Like Einstein one said:

    Science, art and religion (now a days, it's tend to say7write philosophy instead of religion) are branches of the same tree (humanitiy) but subjects of different aspects.

    they do interact together (these is no Einstein any more, but me) but the are completly different things.
  4. Apr 11, 2005 #3
    I can understand this perspective as well with a version of Jungian philosophy. Science has a general rational nature. Art has an aesthetic nature and religion has an intuitive nature. I agree that they are all necessary components of humanity that interact with each other and have different aspects. I would not say they are completely different things because science is not completely logical and religion is not completely intuitive. There are varying grey areas inbetween.

    The introduction of art is interesting. Picasso's cubism springs to mind. I've read this is actually an interpretation of what he thought a 4dimensional viewer would see when looking at a 3 dimensional object. It's not difficult to see the different aspects of human nature in his cubist works.

  5. Apr 11, 2005 #4
    " from a God, which has already been established as an ultimate truth based in fact."

    Who established this as a fact? I certainly do not accept this as a fact.
  6. Apr 11, 2005 #5
    That description is based on the dictionary definitions provided by links in the first post. Instead of established I should have written defined. That would be more clear.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  7. Apr 11, 2005 #6
    "Irrational" is very important to our species. Irrational thought was the first thought. This is the thought, that planning, or imagining comes from. Rational to our very simplest ancestors, was baby, nurse, baby; or tree, fruit; or big mean animal. Irrational was more like imagining where something might be, or dragging a rock in front of a small cave opening, or seeing fruit tree blooms, and knowing that a certain fruit would later be there. The fruit tree bloom thing, can't be proven, by primitive humans, yet they believe it. Things that happen anywhere, but right in front of us, are inherently irrational, since with our minds, we cannot prove or control anything.

    Scientists take the irrational to the rational, with proofs, that are accepted by some sort of organized consensus. Even at that Scientists still figuratively spit the seeds of fruit at each other in effort to demolish theory, and appear wise. The seeds though perceived as hard, and sting the skin, have much more space than substance, this is the strangest reality.

    I do not think that Scientists are trying to make a religion. I think that most Scientists are trying to make a living, basically, while staying relevant, and entertained.
  8. Apr 11, 2005 #7
    I don't believe that this is the only reason that scientists contradict existing theory, although the ego is a powerful motivator. Sometimes the existing theory, regardless of how many people accept it as fact, is at least partially untrue. By questioning accepted logic a better, more logical answer can be derived. What I'm getting at here is that the introduction of irrational ideas is a concept that must continuosly be introduced into science.

    I agree with this, at least on a consciouss level. I was just wondering what the difference between science and religion was and they seem to be exactly the same except one relies on reason and the other on faith. Opposite approaches to the same final destination. I thought it interesting enough to share and was curious about others opinions.

    What was the question?
  9. Apr 11, 2005 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Very good topic...The big difference between science and religion is morals. Religion tends to set a code of human conduct (morality), science doesn't necessarily acknowledge any morality issues (such as the case of cloning for example). Ethics may play a part in science, but science as we know it today doesn't seem to coincide with morality. From this perspective, I would have to say no, science is not a religion.

    Also, science is something that can be verified, proven, tangible. Even if one has "faith" that the scientific community is verifying facts, proving facts, etc, there is still form of proof that is tangible. With a religion, ultimate faith is a requirement to participate.
  10. Apr 11, 2005 #9
    I hadn't considered the morality/ethics perspective as a division between science and religion. Oddly enough I don't remember either of those words being in any of the definitions that I looked up as defining either religion or science.

    I do think that they are important in different ways to the subjects, but not necessarily vital to either. In my life I have met many people who were highly religious, yet had barely a hint of morals. Of course any discussion on morals is speculative as what constitutes morals may change from person to person and culture to culture.

    Ethics does have certain measurable qualities based on utility, and maybe some other factors. Where morals are a personal choice unrecognized by standard science ethics is to science what morals are to religion. It is not necessary to have ethics to further science. There are many, many examples of unethical scientific practice which has been of great value to the human community.

    So I'm not sure that morals and ethics seperates science from religion.

    (edit) If the unethical practices in science would fill a bookshelf the immoral atrocities done in the name of religion would fill libraries.
    What was the question?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  11. Apr 11, 2005 #10
    Relgion seeks to go back to prove God as the Origin of the journey, Truth.
    Science seeks to go forward to prove God is the Destination of the journey, Truth.

    The two Philosophies look at the same issue from different perspectives. The main question of both fields of study; is why does anything exist?

    The more I know, the more I realize the less I know.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  12. Apr 11, 2005 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Where in the definition of God that you posted does it say that? I don't find it.

    You also state
    Where and when was this establised?

    I don't see science and religion as being related. Science is based on gaining knowledge through testing based on scientific methods, religion is based on faith, even when the scientific proof says it's not possible.

    Funny how people can read the same thing and come away with different views. To me your links disprove what you are proposing. But that's part of what makes people interesting, right?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  13. Apr 11, 2005 #12
    That is a very good summary imo. I understood the Origin, Destination aspect. What I overlooked was that just because science is very much like religion it does not make it a religion. Both are philosophies, as you point out in your post. A simple, but serious oversight on my part. Thanks for pointing that out. I still find it interesting to compare the differences between the two.

    What was the question?
  14. Apr 11, 2005 #13
    He was implying ultimate reality (God) as being ultimate truth. Quantum mechanics is the basis of his proof that our ulimate reality is one indivisable thing. Some propose this is ultimate truth, hence, God. We sometimes confuse theory with fact; because it makes sense doesn't make it a fact. Huck... I grapple with the illusion versus reality issue all the time. I think the antithesis of each concept is proof of ultimate duality. Basically, if, one exist, then both exist.

    Just my humble opinion, if I was wrong, accept my apology.

    Speaking of opinion, I "think" therefore I am; should be, I have an "opinion" therefore I am. In my opinion, a subtle variance with deeper meaning.
  15. Apr 12, 2005 #14
    It's not my definition of God although I would agree with it. (There are probably several definitions of God that I would agree with.) In my first post I had unintentionally used a word that may have been misleading to my actual intent. I used "established" because I had previously given the dictionary definition for God. The definition was established. I realized how this could be misleading and edited the post. The word established now reads defined. It is labeled in the reason for editing on that post. I absolutely did not intend to mean that somewhere proof of the existense of God had been discovered.

    The logic goes something like this. Science is the search for truth. Religion is the worship of a God. They seem unrelated. God is defined as ultimate truth, which is the goal of science.

    The second part goes like this. Science seeks ultimate truth but it doesn't worship it. Looking at the definition of worship we see it is a reverence for the divine. The divinity proceeds directly from a God. God is ultimate truth. So worship is reverence for the truth which science must have or it defies its own definition.

    The final part goes... Both beliefs are irrational because religion assumes faith in a supernatural being to form their beliefs and science shapes their beliefs from observable data to prove the existense of a supernatural being. I didn't hyperlink it but part of the definition of being supernatural is that it is unobservable.

    Its a paradox, but so is its alternative. Science needs to be somewhat irrational and religion must be somewhat rational to exist.

    I didn't have quantum physics in mind when writing this. I had all branches of science. It does seem to fit quantum physics particularly well, however.

    Sorry about all the confusion. I hope that clears everything up. Imagine the damage I could do if I had an attention span past 10 seconds.

    What was the question again?
  16. Apr 12, 2005 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Scientific epistemology is empirical, whereas religious epistemology is either rational or revealed. Science has no ethics, religion does. Science also requires no metaphysics (though many scientists develop one anyway), whereas religion does. Important differences.
  17. Apr 12, 2005 #16
    The epistemology of science and religion do appear to be different. Even their differences are in a way similar. For example, if people are asked to say the first word that enters their mind when they hear the word "Cat" many of them will say "Dog". Cats and dogs are not opposites, but there is a concept of opposites there.

    I am not convinced there can be real science without at least some form of ethics. If scientists are not honest with their data then they can not prove anything. If scientists steal each others ideas then there will be less sharing of ideas. Science cannot proceed without human beings and human beings must have an ethical code to coexist. The basic concept of science may not require ethics, but the actual scientific process does require it.

    Here is an interesting site on ethics in science.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  18. Apr 12, 2005 #17


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I absolutely agree...science progresses much easier when ethics are put into place. And I disagree that religion necessarily has ethics, it is a moral code that it enforces, but not always ethics. Excellent link you provided there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  19. Apr 13, 2005 #18


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    That is true, but I'm not certain that it's entirely relevant, in that all human action technically requires an ethics, as 'ethics' simply denotes the rules by which humans should act. In this way, science is an ethics. Any methodology is in that it tells anyone using it how to behave. A scientist must follow the scientific method, which is essentially a code of action. The difference between 'ethics' as it is used here and 'ethics' as it is commonly used is that the dicta of human action prescribed by a methodology are prescribed for entirely pragmatic purposes rather than moral purposes. Science doesn't tell the scientist to use the scientific method because it is the morally correct thing to do, but simply because it is the most effective at creating scientific knowledge.

    That said, your point about science requiring moral behavior of some sort for scientists to accomplish anything is acknowledged and is a good one. The only thing is that this can again be said of any course of human action (in fact, for rational ethical systems, this is the very reason they prescribe a morality - rather than revealed ethical systems, which simply do so by divine authority). For this reason, I'm not certain that it tells us anything when performing a comparison/contrasting of science with religion.
  20. Apr 18, 2005 #19
    Ok lets say in sceince(sp? screw it) they say the sun rotates becouse of this reason. And in religion it says the sun movies becouse of this reason.

    This is soemthing that bothers me alot. I follow religion more then sceince so i dont pay attention in that class(LOL)
  21. Apr 18, 2005 #20
    The definitions of the words religion and science are not as important as the real meaning. To say that science and religion function in the same way is in my opinion, quite ridiculous. There has already been a long debate of faith vs. logic, and I won't dwell into now, but I wish to say that science does not exist for religion, to prove religion, or to prove faith. Maybe some people try to do those things through scientific means, but that certainly does not say science is solely for some religious purpose. I do not see a good justification to really say science and religion are alike, except that they both are ways people claim to know things. And as Kerrie pointed out, a prove of God is not a scientific law, not even close.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Is Science a Religion?
  1. The Religion of Science (Replies: 97)

  2. Is Science a religion? (Replies: 49)

  3. Religion vs science (Replies: 1)

  4. Religion in science (Replies: 2)