Philosophy and Ethics: Religion and Science

Science versus Religion or Science and Religion?

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  • Created on: 04-05-11 18:00

Science on the origins of the universe

The study of the universe's origins is called cosmology.

Many scientists believe that the universe was created by the Big Bang, though this is just a theory. There is some evidence for it: background radiation from the bang which can be detected with powerful telescopes.

Others argue that there was no creation of the universe, it has always been here.

Randomness - Many religions believe that there is a purpose to our existence. Science points towards the conclusion that everything is here by chance and there is no reason for us being here.

Some reactions to these: The Big Bang theory has evidence to support it. But does that make it a believable idea? It seems no more plausible than any religious creation story. Those who say there was no beginning have less proof though, the Big Bang theory is supported by redshift.

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Christianity on the origins of the universe

Creationist Christians:

  • Believe that the creation story is fact. They interpret it literally
  • They believe this because according to them, the Bible is the word of God, and God does not make mistakes.
  • In Genesis, God created the world in 6 days.

Liberal Christians:

  • Accept that scientific theories on cosmology are true.
  • They believe that the Bible can be interpreted metaphorically. They still think God created the universe, but the creation story is an appraisal of God for his achievement rather than a historical account.

Intelligent Design - This is the theory that everything in the universe is too perfect to have happened by chance, there must have been some sort of intelligent life behind it.

Reactions to this: There are still problems with the world. Perhaps it's not that perfect?

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Science on the origins of humanity

Most scientists accept the theory of evolution

Charles Darwin made this theory famous with his book On the Origin of Species in which he also explained the process of natural selection

These theories show humans to be, not special and important as we might like to think, but just animals who have adapted well to our environment. This is one reason why some people object to it. People also disliked the ideas that we are like apes.

However, they are supported by evidence like the fossils of dinosaurs. This means Darwin's theories are the most widely accepted.

Reactions to this: If scientists believe that people are equal to animals, why do they use animal testing? 

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Christianity on the origins of humanity

Darwin's theories are generally disagreed with by Creationist Christians.

They say that God created the world and everything in it over the course of 6 days. On the 6th day He created Adam and Eve in his own image to care for and cultivate the Earth. These were the first people and it is from them that the entire human race is descended.

Liberal Christians however, accept that Darwin is probably right and instead focus on the lesson that the story of Adam and Eve (The Fall of Man) teaches us about resisting temptation.

Reactions to this: Is it really possible for all human life to be descended from Adam and Eve? There is no evidence to support this belief, whereas there is for the theory of evolution - does that make this one wrong? or just misinterpreted?

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Science on people and animals

Scientists follow the theory of evolution, which means they believe people are descended from the same ancestors as some animals, so we are in fact just well-adapted animals.

However, most scientists view the use of animal testing (vivisection) as acceptable, even though it puts humans before animals.

Some scientists think it is only acceptable to use animals as test subjects for medicines and other necessary things. Not for cosmetics or other things we could go without.

Reactions to this: Why do scientists value human life above an animal life? Surely they can develop alternatives

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Christianity on people and animals

According to Christians God only gave souls to Adam and Eve, not the animals. This means He gave humans the gift of eternal life, whereas animals will just die and not go to heaven

However, when He made them, God entrusted the first people with looking after the rest of the world. This is why Christians, whether they interpret this story as literal or metaphorical, believe that people are stweards of the Earth who must take care of it.

A modern Christian might respond to environmental issues by joining a charity or just adapting their lives to be Greener.

Reactions to these: Some Christian beliefs encourage the view that humans are supposed to rule over animals, so surely they are in some way to blame for the environmental problems?

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Science and Christianity

Some people, particularly atheist scientists and conservative Christians, think that religion and science have different ideas about important issues, so can never agree.

However, many people combine faith with a scientific career. These people think that the more we find out about the world, the more we learn about God. Most of these people probably believe in Inteliigent Design.

Another way of looking at it is that Science and Religion could answer different questions: Science tells us HOW we came to be here; Religion tells us WHY. Science can answer the questions about what caused everything. Religion can answer philosophical questions about why things were caused in the first place and what the purpose of our lives are.

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Key words

Creationist - Someone who believes in the Creation theory

Evolutionist - Someone who believes in the Evolution theory

Cosmology - The study of the origins of the universe

Intelligent design - the idea that a being must have planned aspects of the world

Liberal Christians - Christians who are open to scientific ideas to be used in conjunction with their religious beliefs

Natural selection - the process by which the fittest creatures best suited to their environment survive and the weaker ones die out

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