Column – Spirituality plus science, good for society?

September 14, 2010 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon an opinions piece on USAToday.com titled, “Spirituality can bridge science-religion divide.” Boiled down, it seems to be trying to say that science and religion can get along just fine, provided religion leaves the picture.

Seriously, that’s how the author comes across. He seems to want people of faith to keep their faith, if they so choose, but ditch fundamentalist religion.

He might not be entirely wrong, but I don’t think he’s entirely right, either.

It’s treading on old ground, but it’s still worth noting that religion itself is not at war with science, nor should it ever be. As a Christian that’s fairly fundamentalist (to the point that I believe much if not all of the Bible contains a great deal of historical accuracy), I’ve never had problems with ideas such as evolution or the big bang.

Now, that’s not to say I’m entirely accept evolution yet, but it doesn’t affect my faith in the least if it’s 100 percent true or not.

Scientists aren’t out to disprove God &- or if they are, they’re severely misguided. Science’s goal is to figure out how the universe works and then to apply that knowledge to make our planet a better place to live. Nothing about that goes against the teaching of the Bible, nor, to my knowledge, many other spiritual texts.

That said, religion today &- Christianity definitely included &- is extremely flawed. Churches all over the world have done very bad things in the name of God, Allah, etc. I can see why some people would be all for ditching organized religion altogether and going the “spiritual” route.

But in my humble opinion, we should try to fix the problems before ditching the practice entirely.

With the resources available to organized religion, a lot of good could be done for the world. We could cure AIDS, shelter the homeless and feed the hungry. Science could gain much more from a partnership with religion than it could from people who are merely spiritual &- a term I’m sure a lot of agnostic people would apply to themselves.

Now, I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with going the spirituality route in your personal life. That’s perfectly fine, and the day may come when I leave Christianity and follow Christ on my own terms, as it were. All I’m saying is that we should maybe give religion a better chance.

The USA Today column, all told, doesn’t feel terribly balanced. The author spends a lot of time talking about how New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, are fine with “spirituality,” and how even people who don’t believe in a deity can have it. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to make the case for religion being OK with science so much as it seems to ignore religious people altogether.

Not that Richard Dawkins really understands religion, anyway. That man is a pretty smart scientist, but he’s one of the worst philosophers I’ve ever read.

I know this imaginary war between science and religion isn’t going to end any time soon, and that’s a major bummer. However, I don’t think that means we have to immediately toss one side or the other into the trash.

Not all religious people will boo Bill Nye the Science Guy for saying that the moon only reflects light. I would bet a great deal of money that those sorts of religious people make up a very, very small portion of the population.

Likewise, not all science-minded people are like Dawkins, anxious to destroy religion and all it stands for. Those numbers, too, are probably pretty low in the grand scheme of things.

Why can’t we all just play nice with each other?

Regardless, the time hasn’t yet come to toss religion out the window. I worry that such an action would create far more problems than it would solve.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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