Science—the scientific method, “science” is not a belief system or similar to one, but a procedure for investigation—has grown because of its tendency to increase our knowledge of and ability to predict the behavior or natural systems. The church (pick one) has become more tolerant of science and those who prefer to use science to understand nature not because they are not mutually exclusive—of course they’re mutually exclusive: science places the burden of proof on the one making the claim, whereas religious believers choose to believe the extraordinary without proof or the slightest bit of evidence. The church tolerates science only because what the scripture says about nature is wrong and this incorrectness has been nearly completely exposed through science and continues to be exposed more on a daily basis, and as the global population becomes more educated, to the dismay of religious organizations, more people turn to science because it agrees with their own tangible experience. If the church had the power to do so, they would still be killing off scientists because it hurts the church’s reputation to have nearly everything they say about nature shown to be false. Indeed, countries in which the government is heavily influenced by or practices religious law, this type of persecution is practiced still.
Nature is not subjective, it is objective. The earth is not flat for believers and spherical for non-believers. There is only one “true” way to understand nature; the way that provides reproducible, testable evidence.
This overplayed theme of science not really “knowing” things, e.g. gravity is *just* a theory only rings if you don’t understand the scientific method. We have varying confidence in the many things claimed through science, and there is no deception or shame associated with such uncertainty. Doubt is the path to asking questions and furthering understanding—completely contrary to the don’t-question-me approach of religion. Despite our very, very high confidence in the present theory of general relativity, which includes our understanding of gravity, we continue to question and subsequently test and refine that understanding. Researchers at Tokyo U. just verified the predictions of general relativity back to over 13 billion years, nearly to the edge of the visible universe. Consequently, we’re more confident than ever in the “theory” of gravity, but regardless, we would question the whole theory if contrary evidence were produced and verified. Most religious beliefs, however, are not falsifiable through any means.
Religious belief is declining precisely because science (i.e. the best available, hard sought explanation of reality) and religion (i.e. the lazily made-up explanation that disagrees with all available evidence) cannot co-exist.