Religion and Science


Key concepts

  • For many people, the main issue regarding religious belief and science concerns whether God is the most rational way to explain why the universe exists and why human life exists
  • Debates in science  and religion are not only bothered with why we are here, but why there is any universe at all
  • The 'God hypothesis' is one that says the existence of the universe can be explained by God

The issue is

  • Science explains how something exists and also why
  • Religion explains the why
  • Science is growing vastly among popularity

Relationship between science and religion is unclear because of the contradicting values. Essentially religion is based on belief, science is based on a process of educated trial and error based on the empirical world and deducing facts that can be proven to the human eye individually, not just told to be believed.

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Can the origins of the universe be explained?


  • It is impossible that there is an absoloute explainations of the origins of the universe- despite the negativity of the approach
  • So, can  the universe be explained at all?


  • Self explanatory- if we study the universe we may come to understand all processes which have caused the universe to exist as it is today
  • Universe is neccesary
  • In philosophical terms- exists by neccesity. Betrand Russell, universe is a 'brute' fact


  • Universe itself needs a whole explanation
  • Theists say the Big Bang Theory itself is not an adequete explanation,it is not simple as it seems-it is complex
  • God Hypothesis- only acceptable if it is absoloute, consistent with science and most reasonable
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Atheist views

  • There is little evidence to support the idea for the existence of God
  • Various theories can explain our universe like the Big Bang and Evolution
  • Peter Atkins- made criticsms of the idea that God explains satisfactorily the origins of the universe
  • Richard Dawkins- longing for belief in God can be explained through memes

God of Gaps- using God to fill out the gaps in human knowledge

Theist views

  • Richard Swinburne's new teleological argument- general patterns of order in universe
  • Spatial order- books arranged in alphabetical
  • Temporal order- regularity of succesion by certain laws following certain results. E.g. water boils @ 100 degrees celsius
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Creationalism and evolution

As the theory of evolution became more popular more and more people began to question the origins of the Bible. While most did not respond to the theory of evolution, protestant traditions responsed to evolution with what we now call 'Fundamentalist' approaches to Christian belief. Especially popular with Evangelicals

  • Fundamentalists attempted to demonstrate the truth of the Bible by using science
  • E.g. miracles are explained to the way the world works
  • Jesus walking on water can be explained by sandbanks under the water
  • Fundamentalists see science as a tool to demonstrate the truth of scripture

Creationist beliefs

  • No single set
  • Evolution should be rejected- 2. Evolution is a theory still, not fact
  • Scriptures are the inerrant word of God and verbally inspired by God
  • Things like rocks can be explained by being prematurely aged by God
  • Gaps in fossil records
  • Days represent thousands of years
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Intelliegent Design

Some creationalists from the 80's are in support of Intelligent Design.

  • Point to the 'irreducible complexity' of biological systems
  • E.g. bodys blood clotting mechanisms

They also point to 'specified complexities' like the complexity of the physical world like the mesenger in RNA in nuclei which carry information from the nucleus of a cell

  • The complexity of biological systems must have been specified by an intelligent designer

There is also a fine turing to the univers which argues that the way the universe works together strongly supports the idea of something intelligent creating us

  • E.g. strong forces within physics holding subatomic particles together which holds protons etc
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Neo Darwinism

Those who totally reject the claims of a creator are known as Neo-Darwinists.

Religion is unscientific and irrational

No need to propse there being a creator

Science should replace religion because science is empirical whilst religion is not

Richard Dawkins on Apparent design

  • When you understand the universe, it is not as complex as Intelligent design points out
  • Faith is a cop out
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