I have been approached by people asking me whether or not science should include religion, and as a scientist, how should I be communicating with deeply religious people? Let me start out by saying that science and religion are very different from each other. Science is all about hard evidence even though we cannot be sure that we are 100% correct because there is no 100%, but we can certainly say we are 90 or 95 or 99% confident that we are on the right track based upon data and evidence where religion is all about personal faith and it is not reliable knowledge because it isn’t testable like it does in science. In my opinion if I have to make a statement, then science should not include religion and the predictions coming from science are correct where religion is not. I have no objections about people being religious as many of my dear friends are and I do keep in close contact with many of them. But when it comes time for me to point out the differences between science and religion during a debate or presentation, I have no hesitation to stand strong on science and argue that religion simply does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Galileo, one of the greatest scientists ever lived, was in conflict with the Roman Catholic Church because of his belief in the sun being the center of the universe and not the Earth. Galileo even constructed the very first telescope to provide evidence that he was right but the Church refused to even bother looking into the telescope and held onto the belief that the Earth was the center instead. It wasn’t until after many years before the Catholic Church admitted their mistake and made necessary apologies. When I went to Italy back in 2002, I paid my respect to Galileo in front of his tombstone. ” yes, that was the moment” and I felt great.
Many people make comments about scientists being arrogant and it is simply not true. We are proud of what we know and at the same time, we admit humbly about what we don’t know. Science does not have answers to everything, but we also have answers to lots of things that we come to know, and one of the things about science is that we update information as new data comes in and move forward to improve our knowledge and make our theories better. Science is all about making progress and evolve into something better where in religion is a standstill belief and it isn’t going anywhere. Look at the modern medicines, computer technologies, transportation system, and space programs which are all due to the incremental scientific developments over the centuries to make the world better. Where has religion taken us besides all the conflicts about their own convoluted doctrines and raised wars even carrying out to this day in different parts of the world? Clearly science is more beneficial and it strengthens a nation. As a scientist, I tend to believe how the world operates based on evidence and not on faith as the latter is simply not reliable knowledge. Yes, I would be happy to change my beliefs as long as there is substantial evidence convince me to do so and that’s what we do as scientists. At the same time when we don’t know something, we will seek answers based on observations and launch experiments to verify our theories. We have no hesitations to admit that we don’t have an answer but we will keep investigating until we do. “Evidence ” is the key to scientific discoveries, ” faith” isn’t. Now I remember a song by the stone, ” you don’t always get what you want” and that is exactly true no matter how many prayers have been made, the universe simply does not listen or care about it. The laws of physics are completely unbiased, unforgiven and uncaring. At the deepest level of understanding the laws of nature, there is no meaning to life and no reasons for anything that happened within the universe and certainly no reason why the universe is here at all, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create our own purposes and meaning of lives in this world. Since we have very limited time in this world compare to the age of the universe, and at this point there is no reliable proof or support for life after death ( because we know there couldn’t be based on the science that we know up to now and believe me that it is reliable knowledge which you will have to wait until my next blog to talking about it) we have to treasure our lives and whatever purposes we created, we need to make our lives worth living and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But thinking that the universe has a purpose for us and planted the seed of love into our atoms to making everything meaningful for us is a big flaw. We are insignificant in this vast universe and the location of Earth is nothing special at all in the universe. But while we are still here, we like to get to know our universe much better every day and that seems to be a good purpose that we have created and we certainly have come a long way to be where we are. A thousand years from now if we are still here talking about it, then we would definitely come to agree that we become better acquainted with our universe and still more to go, and we know more as time progresses.
As a scientist, I observe, make speculations, formulate theories, collect data, and verify theories. Through the use of scientific reasoning in the long process, I will be able to discard the most unlikely events and accepting the most likely ones and therefore improving the theories and make progress to benefit the world, not to create conflicts with unchanging and self proclaiming doctrines to gain power or declare truths.