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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 [Broken], 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 http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=divine&x=16&y=10 [Broken], 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: May 2, 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


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    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


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    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


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    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.
    http://www.chem.vt.edu/chem-ed/ethics/hbauer/hbauer-toc.html [Broken]

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  18. Apr 12, 2005 #17


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    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.
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  19. Apr 13, 2005 #18


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    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.
  22. Apr 20, 2005 #21
    While religion and science definitely function in different ways, they are born from the same thread. Religions are the remnants of societies ways of coping with time and environs, while science is the sum of human knowledge of the world around us. Religion must evolve and take into account the shifting attitudes and technologies of humanity, and science has the luxury of repeatability and verification - so it is refined rather than evolved.

    There are numerous parallels between science and religion. They both have their deities, and these deities have laws. They both have rituals, rites of passage, and places of worship. They both undergo periodic revolutions. Religion, however, gave birth to science.
    Religion, in the modern context, is not as it always has been. Think of being able to unite all aspects of life (science, law, beliefs of afterlife etc.) under a single banner. That is more like the state of religion during the greater part of the history of human civilization. Numbers, astronomy, biology - all of these things were originally incorporated into various religions. Theories, conjectures, crazy ideas, any of these things that actually served a useful purpose to humans were carried along as part of religion. Their invariance (in reality, not necessarily in theory) in the face of evolving human societies is what eventually set them apart.

    While it is easy to look at religion through the eyeglasses of a modern athiest and scoff at its silly and strange beleifs, you must remember that all of the things incorporated into religion are there for a reason, and the pillars that look odd when the stones that they stand on shift into sand, are pillars nonetheless. They are pillars that have evolved, no differently than the legs of giraffes, and resiliance and solidarity are among their strengths, not weaknesses. Those that stand the test of time will be all the stronger from the challenge.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  23. Apr 20, 2005 #22
    When science has been proven wrong, it "evolves" in a sense, fixing the error and moving foward. But when an obvious error has been made, the mistake is admitted and everyone moves on. There is no need to say how it was right all along, and how it will stand the test of time. Science does not require faith as a way of aquiring knowledge. This has nothing to do with the history of religion or understanding its impact on the modern world, I am just saying that the way science works is different from religion. Just because the two were worked on and supported by the people who practiced both of them does not make religion and science the same. Please tell me from a factual basis, the parallels between the two. I would not say scientific "rituals" even come close to religious ones, nor does science have "worship", nor does science have deities. I do not understand how you can say this.
  24. Apr 20, 2005 #23
    Science gooood, religion gooood. I do see my simplistic model to be the outcome of this debate :) with those two having a relationship which may shift by time and with altitudes of ppl but the basic relationship is preserved if we acknowledge it or not. WHat was first science or religion (belief in something higher rather)?
  25. Apr 20, 2005 #24


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    Those are rather scant comparisons. Science has no 'deities.' Deities are supernatural beings that control nature through acts of will. To call anything in science a 'deity' is a misuse of the term. Deities rule by decree, whereas the natural laws of science simply exist, not because anyone wanted them to, but for an impersonal cause if any. Morever, the laws of deities are exclusively moral laws, whereas the laws of science are physical laws. In religion, there are no physical laws by which deities operate. They are not constrained in their actions by any physical limitation. In science, the actions of physical objects are not constrained by any moral considerations. A volcano will erupt even though it kills thousands of people and fear no punishment from a deity. Science does not have rituals nor does it involve worship. There are repetitive actions one must take to learn the theories and methodology, as well as the equipment, but that is the case with any line of work and so hardly serves as a useful criterion by which to compare any two systems.

    Natural philosophy gave birth to science, not revealed doctrine nor even rational theology. As far back as Aristotle, philosophy was separated into metaphysics, which dealt with concerns that included theology, and physics, which dealt with the natural world.

    No, it isn't. It's more like the state of religion for a thousand years in European history. Prior to medieval Christianity, most non-animistic religions had nothing to say about the mechanical operations of nature and left that to rational speculation and empirical observation.

    I should make clear here that I'm just going off of western history because that's what I know, but this statement is also not true. Empedocles, Euclid, and Aristotle, in developing theories of the movements of heavenly bodies, the evolution of organic species, and the nature of mathematical objects, did not take religion into account at all. Although Aristotle did invoke a Prime Mover to explain the motions of the intelligences, this was hardly anything recognizable as a religious deity, as it did not create the universe, nor did it even realize that there existed a universe. It wasn't until the medieval era that what you say became true and philosophy, including natural philosophy, became intertwined with religion.

    [Note: Perhaps you are referring to the Mayan calendar or the Babylonian keeping of astronomical records. These were indeed of religious significance, but as I noted earlier, that is because these were pagan, animistic religions that viewed the heavenly bodies themselves as deities. This is not characteristic of any monotheistic religion, which is clearly what this thread is addressing.]

    This is also not true in all cases. Some philosophical doctrines were adopted by rational theologians and became Catholic doctrine, such as Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotle's argument for a first mover. Many others, including the great works of natural philosophers such as Lucretius, were mostly forgotten. Even the classical works that were integrated into Catholic doctrine were not composed by Catholics, nor were they even composed in the service of any particular religion.

    According to memetics, belief systems that stand the test of time do so largely because they are good at reproducing. This may be because, as in the case of many scientific ideas, they have great explanatory power and seem to be on the path to verifiable knowledge. In the case of Christianity, it is simply that the belief system tells its adherents to convert everyone they come across and that they will burn in hell if they don't believe or call into doubt any element of doctrine; that and the comfort it provides by telling believers that God has their back. Sure, any belief system that does these things and doesn't blatantly fly in the face of obvious physical truths (or, in the case of Catholicism, it changes its mind when it does) is going to be a very successful reproducer, but this fact alone is no indication of either true or virtue.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  26. Apr 21, 2005 #25
    Well said.
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