Science and Religion

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Truths

Absolute Truth - fixed, unalterable facts that do not change.

Evolving/Changing Truth - changes depending on the facts that are known at the time.

Scientific Truth - comes from making a hypothesis, then testing it repeatedly to see if it is true.

Religious Truth - these are based on belief and faith. They usually come from the Bible and revelations. They focus on why not what or how. They try to answer ultimate questions.

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The Big Bang

The Big Bang - a collision that caused the universe to start expanding (one reaction that started a chain of reactions).

The Big Bang theory is an explanation for the origin of the universe and the development of the laws of physics and chemistry. It is thought to have taken place 10 to 15 billion years ago. It is a theory that supports the idea of an ever-changing universe.

It states that the beginnings of the universe took place when a singularity exploded and from this explosion, all the matter that makes up the universe came into being.

After approximately half a million years, the temperature had cooled sufficiently to allow the gases, hydrogen and helium to form. It took another billion years before the stars and galaxies begin to appear.

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Theory of Evolution

Charles Darwin's Theory:

Individuals in a species show a wide range of variation. This variation is because of differences in their genes.

Individuals with characteristics most suited to the environment are most likely to survive and reproduce.

The genes that allow these individuals to be successful are then passed to their offspring.

Individuals that are poorly adapted to their environment are less likely to survive and reproduce. This means that their genes are less likely to be passed to the next generation. Given enough time, a species will gradually evolve.

Jean Baptiste Lamarck's Theory:

Lamarck's theory stated that a characteristic which is used more and more by an organism becomes bigger and stronger, whereas one that is not used eventually disappears. Any feature of an organism that is improved through use is passed to its offspring.

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Christian Creation Story - Genesis I

Creationism - a view which only accepts that God created or another divine being created the world.

Day 1 - 'Let there be light'.

Day 2 - 'Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters'.

Day 3 - 'Let the Earth sprout vegetation'.

Day 4 - 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate day and night'.

Day 5 - 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the Earth, across the expanses of the heavens'.

Day 6 - 'Let the Earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds'.

Day 7 - 'God rested from all his work that he had done in creation'.

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Believer's Views of the Bible

Fundamentalist (literal) View - a fundamentalist approach to scripture teaches that it is the exact/direct word of God. Therefore, everything in the scripture is the literal, exact truth.

Conservative (non-literal) View - there are many Christians who believe that you should not interpret the Bible literally. The writers were inspired by God but what they wrote in scripture is God's word interpretted.

Liberal (Myth) View - for some believers who hold a liberal view, some parts of the Bible are myths. These myths have religious truth with a moral but no historical or scientific truth.

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Creationism and The Big Bang

In Agreement:

Liberals and Conservatives would argue that it is possible to believe both the Creation story as well as the Big Bang.

God created the world through the occurence of the Big Bang.

They may use the fact that day can be translated into era which supports the Big Bang.

Differing:

Fundamentalists and Athiests would argue that it is not possible to believe both accounts.

This is because Athiests reject any theories that involve God as they do not believe he exists.

Fundamentalists would argue that they are different as they believe that the Creation story took place over 7 days, not billions of years.

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Creationism and Evolution

In Agreement:

Liberals would argue that evolution is how the world was created by God.

Conservatives would argue that Genesis 1:24 'let the Earth bring forth' shows that the Earth has the ability to bring life.

Differing:

Athiests would argue that 'God made man in his image' clashes with evolution and the idea of the world being random luck and chance.

Fundamentalists would argue that evolution claims that the animals have to fit the environment whereas in the Creation story the environment is made for the animals. Also, there is a conflict with the time frame.

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Charles Darwin's Religious Beliefs

Darwin was brought up as a Christian and still continued to be a thiest when he was first developing the theory of Evolution.

However, in the 1860s his views changed slightly as he had researched his theory more thoroughly.

He still believed that God created life and designed the laws of nature but he also maintained the idea that God had left the details of this to random chance.

Darwin died an agnostic.

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Religious Reasons for Rejecting Darwin's Theory

The Genesis account states that humans were made in the 'image of God' - therefore they cannot have evolved from other species.

Humans have a spiritual soul that distinguishes them from animals - so humans cannot have evolved from other species.

There are gaps in the fossil records that have not been found - there is no conclusive evidence that the evolutionary process took place.

Scientists have never found absolutely clear fossil evidence to support the supposed link between the apes and humans.

It is claimed that natural selection occurs by random chance, but the advance to a higher life form would require the care selection of the variations within a species. There is no evidence that this happens within nature.

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Religious Reasons for Accepting Darwin's Theory

Evolution is the process through which God's creation took place.

Evolution shows the power of God and God's design for the development of humanity.

There is no problem in accepting both the theory of evolution and the existence of God, especially as there are huge and sudden 'jumps' in evolution. These 'jumps' result in unexplained changes happening at certain times. One explanation could be that they are part of God's plan.

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The Cosmological Revolution

The cosmological revolution is the term used to describe the change between the medieval view of the world and the modern view.

The people who lived in the middle ages thought that the world was a flat disc and that the sky was fixed in place like a dome.

The Earth was said to be held up by huge pillars and the sun, moon and stars move around the Earth.

The souls of the dead await inside the 'bowels' of the Earth - waiting for judgement day.

They believed this because this is based on what they could see and what the Bible told them.

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Scientists Involved in the Cosmological Revolution

Nicholaus Copernicus - the Earth is not the centre of the universe and humans were not as important as they thought they were.

Tycho Brahe

Johannes Kepler - discovered the eliptical movement of the Earth.

Galilei Galileo - invented the telescope.

Christian fate was starting to separate from science. They were no longer using teaching but empirical evidence.

God was no longer seen as immanent. The universe seemed to run like a machine.

All of these people still believed in God - just not the churches' teachings.

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Can Science and Religion Ever Agree?

Yes:

If the Bible's creation stories are not taken literally, then science can be regarded as revealing the law by which God created the universe. For example, Islam has always taught that science proves the truth of the Qu'arn and Islam encourages scientific research.

Some may say that science and religion have put forward some of the same arguments/truths.

No:

Religious believers who are certain that their scripture and tradition contain the literal truth are unlikely to believe scientific theories, unless they have developed their own. For example, some fundamentalist Christians have developed their own theories called scientific creationism.

Scientists who are Athiests can never agree with religion as they completely reject any aspect of religious belief.

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Science and Religion in the Modern World

Why is Science Favoured?

More empirical evidence, one theory, secular society, science can evolve when new theories are discovered, schools are not allowed to influence childrens' opinions on religion whereas science is taught as fact.

God of the Gaps - as science explained more and more, it was felt that the role of religion was to fill the gaps that science couldn't explain.

A Clockwork Universe - some people regarded the universe rather like a large clock that had been wound up. Deism developed as a belief, which was the idea that once God set things going, he moved on and didn't intervene in his creation (transendence).

Pierre Laplace thought that when all the laws of nature were discovered, there would be no place for religion.

Science can explain facts, but the spiritual needs of the people have to be catered for as well.

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