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What does science think of god?
Question Date: 1999-05-06
Answer 1:

This is certainly a difficult question! The short answer is that science doesn't think anything about god. That means that science can't prove OR disprove anything about god. Let me try to explain some more by giving you my perception of what separates the concepts of "science" and "faith".

Science is basically all about coming up with answers or theories about the way the world works based on objective observations of facts. What I mean by facts is everyone's shared reality or common experience. This is pretty easy for "simple" problems. For example, I can go drop an apple from a ten story building and see how long it takes to fall. I can tell you my answer (the time it takes to fall.) You don't have to believe me because you can try it yourself! If you do the experiment in exactly the same way I did it, you should get the same answer. And then we can AGREE on the answer.

Now things get tricky as you start looking at more difficult questions. A long time ago, people generally assumed that the earth was flat and the earth was the center of the universe (and that god was "out in the sky somewhere") This made sense because no one ever traveled very far (certainly not into outer space!) These are the kinds of questions that science tries to answer. What happens if you keep traveling across the earth? Will you fall of the end? Well, eventually of course, better sailing techniques came along and enough people sailed around the world that it became clear that the earth was in fact round. (Again, science says that you don't have to take my word for it. You can build your own space ship, fly into space, and look back to see that earth is definitely round!)

Now back to the main question. When some people first came to the conclusion that the earth must be round, they were accused of attacking religion which was trying to answer the same question. Over time, as more and more people verified that the earth was round, it started to become accepted as a "fact." Similar situations have occurred on many other issues (such as the age of the earth and the theory of evolution .)

Faith and religion also try to come up with theories for the way the world works. In religions, these theories or beliefs usually come from traditions or history. There have been such conflicts between science and faith (or religion) because both science and faith try to answer the same "unanswerable" questions at any one time. When there is a new discovery which answers a question, religion eventually changes to reflect the new view of the world if it does become accepted as fact.

This doesn't mean that science can answer every question. For example, why does the universe exist at all? Is there a god? These are questions that will always be a matter of faith.

Let's look a little deeper. Let's say that I am crossing a street and don't see a bus coming, but just in time I happen to look in the right direction to see the bus, and I jump out of the way. If I were a very religious person, I might say that god somehow guided me and saved my life. If I were a very scientific person, I might say that it is purely luck. Which interpretation is correct? I think it really depends on what one's individual beliefs are. It is not necessarily a question of right or wrong interpretations.

I hope I haven't put you to sleep with my rambling answer. It is a very complicated question that doesn't have a solid answer, but I hope I have given you some ideas to consider.

Answer 2:

This would be a bit easier if there were a guy named Science we could ask. Unfortunately, what we have instead is millions of scientists worldwide who have their own opinion... in all likelihood that of a Hindu differs from that of a Muslim differs from that of an atheist differs from mine. (after all, scientists are people too).

The problem is that the answer depends on your idea of god. A Buddhist may see physics as the rules by which the world runs in harmony, and see no contradiction at all. An atheist will say that science takes care of itself, needs no god, and since religion was invented to explain what man couldn't (i.e. sun gods, Zeus' lightning bolts, Jesus curing lepers--antibiotics do this too), our advanced science means we no longer need to believe in god. Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that the laws of physics are simply the way God runs the world. Me, personally (I'm Jewish), I don't see any way to figure this out from physics... I'm skeptical of the atheist but I can't disprove his argument; nor can I refute the faith of a believer.

So there you are. You'll have to decide for yourself!

Answer 3:

I think the answer depends on the scientist. Some scientists probably believe that science will eventually tell us everything about the universe there is to know and that God is not required. Others may believe that science allows us to more fully understand what God has created. I guess I am more for the latter view than the former. I believe that there are fundamental questions about the universe that science will not be able to answer and is not meant to answer.

Answer 4:

Science and religion really deal with different types of questions. Science can only be used to study things that obey natural laws. By definition, supernatural things, like the God of some religions, or groups of gods or spirits of other religions, do not obey natural laws. Science can not be used to study them. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with science or religion, they just don't have the same rules.

Trying to answer a question like "Is this ethical?" or "Which religion is right?" cannot be done with science. It would be like entering a cat in a dog show or using football rules at a basketball game.

Some religions teach that religion can answer scientific questions, some religions do not.

Individual scientists have different viewpoints from believing devoutly in a religion to not believing in any. Scientists may look to science to answer questions about things that behave according to natural laws (like What causes cancer? or How can a car be more efficient?) and look to religion or some other field for answers to questions about ethics or the role of people in the universe.

Try making a list of questions that are really important to you. Ask yourself whether science can answer each one. If not, what could? (philosophy? religion? law? art?).

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