Science vs. Religion: Which One Wins?

If you read my last blog post, I touched on one of those “deep” questions that make me think the most. It’s this question that challenges not only the basic principles of life itself, but also seems to create an inseparable rift between the different cultures and beliefs that we value. It’s this question that attempts to explain how our world began, how our world developed, and how our world is developing. The question of what we should rely on — science or religion — continues to plague the minds of many to this day. By the end of this short blog, I hope to shed some light on that question.

Oftentimes, people first approach this conflict with the mindset that one has to come out on top. They believe that only one of the two can properly govern the principles of our lives. For example, one of my good friends — let’s call him Daniel — is a firm atheist and has a riveting passion for science. No matter what we argue about, no matter how “deep” or philosophical the conversation gets, Daniel always finds a way to back it up with science. Maybe it’s a matter of confirmation bias, but I don’t blame him or anyone that does this: this viewpoint has its merits and its logical arguments.

Do science and religion always go opposite ways? (image credit: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/sam-harris-and-jerry-coyne-science-vs.-religion-part-2/)

But before we get into what I think, let’s briefly talk about people who value religion over science and vice versa (and I’m generalizing here). For those that share the former viewpoint, they generally emphasize the importance of spiritual and ethical meditation and focus on the emotional aspect of life. With this comes an understanding of our lives’ purposes and the ethical perception of what is “right” and what is “wrong” and what it means to grow. Some prominent words that come to mind are faith, spirituality, and God.

(image credit: https://www.compassion.com/poverty/religion-quick-facts.htm)

On the other side of the spectrum, for those that share the latter viewpoint, they generally focus on the concrete “facts” of life; in other words, they focus on what is and can be seen by the human eye. Logical reasoning and quantitative observation remain of utmost importance, and any thoughts of miracles or supernatural events are usually shunned. Thus, things like the afterlife and eternity cannot be explained by science since they are not quantifiable or observable. Some prominent words that come to mind are data, measurements, and facts.

(image credit: http://marchforscience-houston.webflow.io)

Now you see why people think only one can be correct? Science and religion seem to be almost like direct opposites — or in literary terms, foils to each other. Again, as I mentioned in my last blog, I used to never know which one to completely accept. But now I gladly and willingly accept both to be an integral part of my life, and that they CAN coexist. Here’s why.

After getting the opportunity to research at a local biotechnology institute and to go on an overseas mission trip, I feel that I have gained valuable insight into both science and religion. I’ve learned to appreciate them not as separate fields of work, but rather as harmonious components of what I call “life.” I don’t focus on what separates the two. Instead, when I had the opportunities to experience both, I fully cherished those moments and thought: how are they connected? For me, this connection was the fact that both pushed me to help and love others. With science, I learned to appreciate the work I was doing, and that no matter how insignificant it may seem, one day this work may be a step in helping our community or even our world. With religion, I learned to find genuine joy in serving others and found what matters to me: making others joyful. Thus, because of these associations I was able to make between science and religion, I wholeheartedly embrace both.

Now, I’m not saying there are no discrepancies between the two. I still recognize these conflicts, one of the most notable ones being the evolution debate. However, I’ve learned to look past these details and trust that eventually we will find the answers. We still have SO much to learn, so I’m not surprised that there exist such discrepancies. For now, even if you still leave this article questioning the differences between science and religion, I hope that what I’ve said at least encourages you to never stop pursuing what matters to you! Continue to find those connections between what you love most, and see where life takes you!

Adam Zhang

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To learn more about making your voice heard, visit us at our website. To take action, sign and share our petition to safeguard science in our schools, communities, and futures. To be a part of our conversation, join us on Twitter@ScienceTeens, on Instagram at scienceteens, and on Snapchat at march4science.

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Inspiring scientific literacy, self-efficacy, and student interest in STEM. Run by students from the March for Science: Students for Science

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