The Conflict Between Science And Religious Beliefs

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Science and religion have been seen as enemies that contradict each other at any chance they get. It is hard to believe that science and religion can be friends as science is based off of logical thinking and experiments for proof, whereas religion is based primarily by faith alone. Although, I believe they can complement each other, religion gave science the morals and science acts as a wall to push religion to a new and more modern understandings. Although there will be no definitive decider to which is right or wrong, I will be breaking down parts of history, past and present, where science and religion have either been friends or foes. These events have either been a colosul step in the advancement of the human race or merely insignificant and forgotten by history.

Conflicts between science and religion date back to the 1600s when Galileo Galilei discovered that instead of the Sun revolving around the Earth, the Earth revolves around the Sun. In 1632, he published this discovery in a book which angered the Pope at the time. The Inquisition of Rome but Galileo on trial for heresy. He was forced to say that all his scientific findings were false and was then imprisoned.1 This is probably the best example of when religion refused to believe or even consider science as an option due to the fact that the Catholic church wanted to maintain its power. This was also in a time when science and scientific discoveries were very new to the world and posed a threat to religion as it was usually backed by hard evidence. They were afraid that science would make the Catholic church obsolete and diminish its power.

It is no secret to the world that some counties are governed and ruled by religion itself or religious leaders. These countries tend to have very strict and harsh laws that either intentionally or unintentionally halt the advancements of science. Up until 2018, women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to drive, due to the widely known unscientific fact created by the Isamic religion, that a woman’s brain was not as big as a mans’ brain and they were mentally incapable of doing so.2 In recent years, Saudi Arabia has very much changed its view on science and technology. They have long term plans and visions in innovation and technology development to make Saudi Arabia a knowledge based economy.3 Another example of a country that is religious that contradicts its religious beliefs is Ireland. Ireland held a referendum to legalise abortion in 2018.4 This broke the stereotype of Ireland being a conservative Catholic country and pushed science into the forefront of the culture of today's youth. Now more than ever, Ireland has more science college courses and students for those courses so the future will be more scientifically advanced. There are approximately 538 Bachelor of Science degrees students can choose to study.5

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There are religious beliefs and rules that certain advances in medical science are wrong and that certain religion should not take part in these advancements. Since medicine has come so far, especially in recent years, it is presumed that it is bound to contradict or go against a faith somewhere no matter how good it may seem. For example, Jehovah Witness’ should not accept blood transfusions, even if the situation is life threatening. The Church of Latter Day Saints claims that it says not to accept or give blood in the bible.6 This is an example of religion going against science and a medical advancement that has literally saved millions of people’s lives.

Contraception is probably one of the biggest science versus religion controversies in history. In some Islamic countries contraception is still illegal due to some religions seeing it as unnatural and preventing the process of natural human reproduction.7 Whereas take the Philippines for example, in 2015 a supreme court order unbanned female contraception pills in hopes they do not undergo with an illegal abortion. 80 percent of the population of 100 million people are devoted to the Catholic Church which has led to many protests labelling the law as evil. The church has even threatened to excommunicate the former president, Aquino.8 This proves the strength of religion in some countries and regions. The citizens of a country are so opposed to scientific advancements due to strong religious beliefs even if their countries leader is trying to introduce it.

The artificial reproduction of life for animals and humans alike has been under very serious scrutiny in recent years due to the fact that science and technology has advanced more in recent years than ever before. The Catholic Church and most religions in general are opposed to the artificial insemination, surrogacy as well as artificial reproduction. The Vatican released a document called ‘Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation’ that was forty pages long in hopes to change the views of Catholics and laws world wide. They opposed to any interference with the natural course of reproduction.9 Even some scientists are on board with the Chatholic Churchs’ view and are scared of this practice because they say it might lead to cloning and changing genetics for the worse.

Organ reproduction has saved thousands of lives thanks to the advancements in science and technology. But like anything, it is not without its controversies. It is known and usually shunned that human organs have been grown inside animals, like pigs, so that people do not have to wait for an organ donor as there is such a shortage of organ donors across the world. Japan has recently unbanned the production and experimentation of human-animal hybrids for organ transplant.10 Japan is known worldwide to be a very technologically advanced country and not known for religion. The idea might seem good at first but when further research was made public it seemed to be an unpopular option. Any religious group opposed this method right from the beginning. The bible states in 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 that this is mutilation of the body and dishonouring God's creation.11

With all that said, I believe that the conflicts between science and religion are up to personal perspective. The reason why science and religion can’t be fully compatible is the same reasons why wars happen and that racism exists. It is in human nature to create conflict in the search for power and superiority. A research by Case Western Reserve University has found that the conflict between science and religion lies in our brains.12 Also on the other hand, 41 percent of scientists don’t believe in god which means 59 percent believe in god or a higher power according to an article done by Joshua A. Cuevas.13 This suggests that science and religion can be mutual friends but it is up to the person's opinion to decide. I consider religion to be a foundation for morals and ethics in science.

Despite the fact that there's no definitive conclusion or answer whether science and religion can be mutual friends or foes, I believe that science and religion can possibly live in mutual harmony if people just had more of an open mind and educated about science and religion. Conflicts have progressively gotten better and more religious people nowadays have become scientists. This essay has proved that contradictions are prevalent between the two subjects but the conflict is in our head. 

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