I read an article recently which attempted to make the argument that religion and science are deep down intrinsically linked. You can read this article here [LINK].
The article is filled with logical fallacies, the most basic being the redefinition of “God”. Most faiths define god as a sentient super being, who hears our every thought. Something who must constantly be glorified. Who, when we die will weigh up the good deeds vs the bad deeds and punish us or reward us accordingly, for all eternity. The article re-defines god as “that which is not limited by whatever limits the universe”.
Religion is a rigid set of traditions, beliefs and dogmata which have been informally handed down from generation to generation. Most religions have splinter groups which split off when the core group gets too large. There’s almost always a single authoritative leader in the group who lays things out for others to follow. Religion rejects new information and anything incompatible with the established practices is labeled “doubt” and ends up in the “sin” column.
Science on the other hand presents a means by which we can examine the world around us. It claims no final answers and there are no single authoritative leaders. There are no hard and fast facts, only theories which vary by the degree to which there is evidence supporting them. In some cases the evidence is overwhelming yet it’s still a theory (e.g. The Theory of Evolution). As new information is uncovered it’s evaluated, tested, documented and peer-reviewed. In fact science itself is already a meta-system! Unfortunately most people are not clear on what science actually is or how the community operates.
If evidence supports the re-writing of a theory then that theory is re-examined, re-tested and in some cases thrown out and replaced with a better, more encompassing theory. In this way science evolves and moves forward. Religion can never move forward as it would require admitting that the definition of god or the belief system is inaccurate.
Taking a closer look at the neurology behind it you might ask well why do we even have religion if it makes such little sense? First you must realise you’re an animal and your actions are governed by your brain. Just as you can’t touch your elbow to your nose due to how you’ve evolved physically, in a neurological sense you cannot resist the urge to make sense of the information you’re presented with. It happens automatically.
The human brain has evolved to make sense of the world. It uses the constructs of beginning, middle and end as an aide. When the brain lacks information it readily makes it up, there’s plenty of examples of this in patients with partial memory loss or dementia. They fill in the gap. On a grander scale that’s one possible theory as to why we have religion, because man lacked a systematic means to make sense of the world. Too much information, too fast, so we created the various religions we have today as a basic means to explain it all. That’s essentially what the author is doing in this case.
Even if you buy into the statement that god is “that which is not limited by whatever limits the universe” it doesn’t help. It’s like saying “everything I don’t understand is god”. If I took that definition and applied it back in the 1800s you would’ve said the “power which causes birds to fly is god” or “that which causes lightning is god” etc. It’s a fruitless exercise and as time goes by, understanding increases, we’ll find less and less of a need for a bucket labeled “god”.
One final note which must always be called out in discussions such as this; the presence or lack thereof of a religious set of beliefs is in no way tied to the morality or ethical behaviour of the individual. Just because you require evidence and question the world around you doesn’t make you a bad person. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I’m willing to present my thoughts in an open manner in an effort to further the discussion.