Jillybean's Blog

{October 10, 2010}   Apples, Oranges and the Office…

It probably wasn’t the best idea in the world to bring up my fascination with “religion vs science” debate at the office.  But since I am pondering a thesis topic, this is always on my mind.  This is my passion.  This is what really makes me think…and makes me LOVE to think.

I should clarify and say that I don’t actually view religion and science as comparable topics, let alone opposites.  They are different languages describing the same thing.  Meaning.  Science gives meaning and order to an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable existence through research and experimentation.  Religion, well, gives meaning and order to an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable existence through faith in what we can’t prove or measure.

When people refer to science as the arch nemesis of religion, or vise versa, I feel like they are majorly missing the point.  The sole purpose of science is not to unravel the threads of a spiritual safety blanket.  Yes, ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.  Science and the answers resulting from its study empower people to make informed decisions about things they can see and quantify. And that’s great.

But we live in a dual-natured universe.  There are things we can see and things we can’t see.  There are feelings, auras, attitudes and personalities.  There are connections, influences and gravity.  But we can’t SEE them.  We feel them.  There are many forces that influence us…all the while remaining invisible.  Heck, we may even live in a triple-natured universe.  Or a quadruple-natured universe for all we know.  That’s probably for our descendants to figure out.  But for the sake of simplification and argument, I use the two-pronged approach.

So this is where religion comes in.  And depending on your point of view, you can easily say that spirituality is a more important area of emphasis.  (Which, by the way, is no different than saying that proof is the more important of the two.)  Religion does not seek to disprove scientific theories and claims.  Yes, churches and religious denominations may have been late to the party on giving evolution credibility, but not religion as a whole.

For the sake of argument, I’ll rehash the definition of religion (as defined by dictionary.com):

  • a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  • a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
  • the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
  • the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
  • the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
  • something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.


So if your definition of religion is “the Catholic Church as a whole” or the “Jewish faith,” you’d be mistaken.  Or more accurately, guilty of omission.

In many ways, fanatically religious people just ignore science.  Fanatics blindly site scripture to underscore a preexisting point of view.  In turn, some scientists ignore religion and say that God is unimportant or a byproduct of the brain’s determination to draw connections in seemingly irrational situations.

It’s important to understand that people make these distinctions.  Religion and science don’t.  People draw from certain evidential or anecdotal claims and draw conclusions based on what they interpret.  They jump to conclusions without knowing exactly what motivates them.

So…back to the office.  In the midst of our “religion vs science” discussion, one of my colleagues asked if I would send my child to church knowing that priests have molested children.  I asked him, “would you not send your kids to school because some teachers have been found guilty of molestation as well?”  That’s just something to think about.

I find that science is a good way to understand the world while religion is a good way to understand spirituality.  There really is…no comparison.


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