Some of My Views on Science and Religion
When I look at religious truth, such as cosmology or creation myths, I do not see it trying to supplant science’s place. What I see it does is give particular meaning to reality. I’m not a literalist in my faith so I don’t believe, for instance, that humans literally came from trees. I don’t believe that dwarves in physical reality evolved from maggots, or that the world hangs on a great Tree in physical reality. I also do not look at these as simply archetypal. My beliefs are more complex than that. When I look at the myths these thoughts come from, I see them as a way of placing oneself in reality. We are just one more being in the cosmos, and there are beings who have been here prior to us after Creation. My Gods, according to the myths I believe in, come from the Void, from the same place as all Creation. The two worlds of Fire and Ice colliding and expanding, resulting in the Universe from the melting and cooling of their meeting, does not, to me, represent the objective truth but a framing of reality. Some look at this and call it blasphemous and others look at it and call it ludicrous, and I shrug and say “This is what I believe”. I do not have to have a literal belief for such a thing to have deep, meaningful truths to me. I do not have to hold a literal belief of that creation myth to believe the Gods are real and have impact upon the Worlds.
I also hold that the Big Bang Theory is probably one of the best in terms of understanding the creation of the Universe. I believe science is one of the best ways for us to understand the world around us. I do not see my faith or science at odds. My faith is a complement to my understanding of what science tells me is the objective truth. My faith does not comment on gravity; it does not need to. Science tells me what gravity does, and how it affects reality.
Yet that creation myth, as I have said, helps to frame reality for me. How does it frame reality, against, say, the Big Bang? I can look at two seemingly dichotomous views and see what it says about the nature of reality. The science behind the Big Bang Theory tells me, from science’s standpoint, the why, how, where, when and what of the Big Bang. The myth of the worlds of Ice and Fire arising from the Void, meeting and forming the Universe can tell me that all things begin in primal chaos, and that the Universe sets itself into its own motion, that out of chaos comes order. One could say prima facie it is a scientific statement. I would say that both frame different parts of reality, and where they come together is that one tells me as best as it knows objective reality of an event (science), and the other gives deeper, philosophical and spiritual meaning to the event (religion). Science is not spirituality because science deals in data, facts, and theories that can be tested and proven or disproven. Religion can operate like that, but it is not that. Religion deals with the deeper why questions, the metaphysics, purpose of reality and life, the spiritual nature of reality, and other like ideas. You could say philosophy could do this job, too, and I would agree. At some point ideas in religion must be taken on faith, discarded, or religion must moderate its views to align itself with better data or understanding that science gives to it. That said, I do see in many ways where science and religion depart from one another, and cannot properly inform each other. I don’t feel that religion need have a stranglehold on truth, even ones where it claims to have them. I do feel that everything should be open to questioning.
I question, though, science’s investigation of religious claims for two reasons: 1) Can it really objectively test these claims? 2) If religion is a framing of reality can it be tested, and if so, by what criteria? Can science test the ‘truth’ of Odin’s existence? Can it test the ‘truth’ of reincarnation? If religious claims can be tested by science, what are the implications of any experiments and tests run to prove, disprove, or evaluate religious claims?
Can science be tested by religion? 1) Can it really objectively test the claims science makes? 2) If science is an understanding and explanation of reality, can it be tested by religion, and if so, by what criteria? Can religion test the Big Bang Theory? Can it test the Theory of Evolution? Can it test the Law of Thermodynamics? If scientific claims can be tested by religion, what are the implications of any religious scrutiny and exploration that is done to prove, disprove, or evaluate scientific claims?
Realistically speaking I do not see a way to prove or disprove the existence of Gods, spirits, or anything else like that because there is not an objective way to prove they exist or do not exist. I don’t see any way for religion to test science either. I see them as stating two very different things by the implication of their works, the framing they both do of reality, and the very ways in which they operate. I don’t see either way of being able to properly evaluate one another on their own ground, or the other’s. Science does not deal in religious truths because it is the investigation of the physical world through certain reproducible ways, theoretical thinking regarding the how or why of phenomena backed up by hypotheses and educated guesses. Religion does not deal in scientific truths because it does not investigate the physical world, but can give it deeper meaning through its spiritual beliefs, metaphysics, cosmology, and philosophical underpinnings. In short, they neither inform nor explore this world in anything resembling similar ways.