The War Between Science and Religion
The title reflects history, as suggested in the 1898 book by a professor and co-founder of Cornell University named Andrew Dickson White. The book is A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Almost three hundred years earlier, for example, the Roman Catholic Church had persecuted Galileo for proposing that the Earth revolves around the sun. Before that, the Earth was supposed to be the center of the universe.
Fast forward to today — science is on the threshold of advances that could literally save humankind from cataclysmic self-destruction. Yet, both science and religion likely will find it painful to acknowledge and adopt the revolutionary concepts that seem to be involved.
Purpose of Article
But the purpose of this article is not to advocate the legitimacy of the potential impacts. Rather, it is to alert readers to their seeming implications. Only by being informed can researchers, scholars, theologians, and leaders adjudicate appropriate outcomes for humankind.
Christianity and Islam
The most dramatic differences exist between the two major world religions — Christianity and Islam. Today, almost two millennia since the births of their venerated ones, it seems time to examine conflicts within and between the origins of these religions and their present practices. Also, to consider each religion’s claims in the context of what new scientific advances suggest about our world today.
Whatever Your Belief
Therefore, whatever your background and scientific or religious beliefs, please attend carefully and sincerely to scientific advances and religious precepts that may appear to conflict but actually should be reconcilable in the interests of humankind’s welfare on Earth.
Attitudes Toward Religion
One of the most obvious characterizations of religion per se is by our scholars and government. Our ancestors fled their homelands to seek freedom of worship. Yet, constitutional challenges have claimed that governments showed preference to specific religions or to religion as such.
Moreover, academic institutions have refused research grants to projects with any religious flavor. But this does not seem intended to remain clear of favoring a specific religion. It is worth noting that use of the term “spirituality” seems to be more accepted. For example, medical researchers have shown that patients’ “spiritual” beliefs can improve outcomes of illness and surgery.
Objections by secular groups to the use of the word “God” in the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance seem to disavow God — His existence and role in the Creation of everything. God is not a religion, since religions by definition are human institutional creations. Belief in God is a personal attribute that results from humans search for meaning. It is akin to the growing emphasis for a new scientific paradigm, to help us better explain the “unknown.”
Instead, the prevailing scientific paradigm of materialism (i.e. only physical reality exists) disavows the existence of God and Heaven — anything “religious.” However, as you will find later in this article, scholarly publications reveal a “consciousness” that behaves differently from “waking consciousness,” thereby implying a possible “spiritual” connection. Moreover, an increasing number of scientists are acknowledging what they typically call “the unknown,” beyond science’s ability to prove or disprove with the traditional objective scientific method.
Other scientific revelations paint a picture of a spiritual reality that dwarfs Earth, its inhabitants, and its universe. Obviously, it is non-material and therefore imperceptible to humans, with two apparent exceptions — near-death survivors who “visited Heaven” and subjects hypnotically regressed to the “life-between-lives.”
Regardless of the validity of those two named exceptions, we are confronted by details that boggle even our wildest imagination. Coupling the possible actuality of the spiritual world with existing scientific facts poses difficult questions for some current religious beliefs.
Contrasts Between Christianity and Islam
Perhaps the most obvious difference among religions in today’s world is the difference in how they proselytize for followers. Jesus reached out to all people. Muhammad traced his ancestry to Abraham and respected the rights of Christians during his lifetime.
Christianity and Islam believe in one God. Yet each claims to carry out God’s intent for humanity, however different. Armed conflict between them over the centuries has fostered bitter competition in power struggles. Radical Islamists now threaten Christian minorities “convert, pay tax, or die.”
Timelines of religion seem to center around the End of Time and Day of Judgment, wherein humans will be separated according to their thoughts and behavior toward others. Part will go to Paradise and Part to Hell. One exception is Islamic martyrs, who are promised immediate erotic pleasures in Heaven. Such situations disregard the scientifically obvious, that dead bodies disintegrate in the grave or are cremated.
In parts of the world, Islam is accompanied by patriarchy. The latter custom was observed from medieval times by Arab tribes. This made the patriarch the head of the family with absolute authority over all family matters. A family’s worst dishonor was shame caused by a family member. Somehow, Eastern cultural traditions became the standard by which orthodox Islam felt that God intended for all people.