Science and Religion: two sides of the same coin

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Words: Andrew Taylor (he/him)

Often, when I tell people I’m currently reading the Bible, I typically receive a ‘I didn’t know you were religious’ comment, and each time I wonder: why does this have to be the case? Why can’t one simply read what is arguably the most influential piece of culture, simply for the sake of education – or perhaps even enjoyment? Why does one need to be religious to engage with religious content? Of course, this isn’t always the case, but with developing scientific growth, it’s becoming more shocking to say you’re a believer of both. Yet, I cannot see a reason why the two cannot coexist in the same canon – in supporting each other’s claims, or in encouraging diverse thinking.

It’s interesting because one typically thinks they know the stories of the Testaments, and thus believe they are easy to argue against. This is far from the truth. I’ve not read The Bible in its entirety (it’s a fair bit longer than your typical novel), but each day, without fail, I make sure I read at least a few sections. What surprises me is that very often it’s not what I was told it was. Quick examples of this would be a change of narrative from things like not all animals going into Noah’s ark two-by-two (with ‘clean’ animals going in groups of seven male, and seven female), or around exceedingly debated subjects like abortion, in which there is no direct mention, only lines surrounding pregnancy which have drawn extremely exaggerated conclusions. Perhaps not science-breaking revelations, but enough to argue that certain religious narratives are being converted into independent propaganda.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II addressed the theory of evolution, stating that they acknowledge ‘several theories of evolution’, before saying that evolution would have been directed by God, suggesting that the necessary push to assist in living beings persisting comes from a higher power. In addition to this, many Muslims don’t deny the Big Bang – just adding to it, believing that its creation had a creator. Why can’t there be a force behind the scientific explanation, a beautiful artistic force, that created all and loves all? To many, it’s ambitious to believe in a higher power, especially one that we cannot see, but is it not also ambitious to believe that humans are the highest form of life?

Sometimes a lack of evidence isn’t enough to rule it out. Believing its words or not, works like The Bible serve as history books. For years, many events and characters, such as Kings David and Solomon, were thought to be fiction, yet recent discoveries have been made to suggest that these figures did in fact exist. Perhaps there’s more events that have encouraged scepticism that are just moments away from being proved reality? Religious texts existing as written accounts of history is a great starting point for historical understanding.

Furthermore, even if one isn’t interested in attaching scientific evidence to religion, it doesn’t mean religious texts cannot work on their own. Typically these texts are not concerned with science – but on relationship with God. For instance, claims now cite Moses as the author of Genesis. Perhaps Genesis does not mention the process of creation as Moses himself was either not told, or didn’t believe it relevant. Many religious texts exist not as a science textbook, but as a moral guide: encouraging you to ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. Yes, there are many things within these texts that people will view as unkind, perhaps cruel, but much of that is down to individual interpretation – creating false reading between lines, or attributing meaning to words that were not intended in such a way. However, I can’t speak for every line in every book.

The thing is, if you agree with science or religion or both, it’s a fantastic thing to at least understand the other, as it opens up your mind to other ideas. Understanding the viewpoint of another is beneficial to developing one’s own perspectives on life, and understanding the experience of others – especially when essentially all of culture is built upon these two remarkable bodies of work.Perhaps there is an explanation for us that might make way for a combination of both empirical and theological crossover? Many say they don’t believe in miracles, yet the big bang, all of life, and more are miracles. There’s evidence of how we develop, but certainly nothing that rules out religion, and with discoveries, such as the realities of both King Solomon and King David, that show religion canon is actually canon, perhaps we’re moving into an age of full historical enlightenment that shows science and religion are the same. Ultimately, if you choose to view them separate, that’s also okay, that doesn’t mean you have to discard the other. To many, science can tell us why we live, but religion can tell us how to live.


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