Saturday, March 29, 2008

Does Science Education Kill Religious Faith?

Science education is not designed to preclude or inhibit religious faith. Science is a different subject than religion. Science is concerned with the natural world and universe, not the supernatural or theological. Most scientists will deny that science destroys faith in a Deity or Deities.

However, the study of science introduces people to ideas that are at odds with what religious organizations promulgate as true. This occurs most often when religion intrudes into the domain of science and not vice versa. When religion states that it has the answers to scientific questions, such as when the Bible states that the Earth is flat (All quotes, KJV: Daniel 4:10-11, Matthew 4:8) and immobile (Examples: I Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1,) science disproves these hypotheses by definitively showing that the Earth is neither flat nor immobile.

Thus, science contradicts many edicts of religion when religion ventures out of its territory.

Science truly undermines religious faith, however, because it teaches people to think. Science teaches people to search for testable, real-world answers to problems and questions rather than rely on superstition, magical thinking, or laziness.

When asked, "Why is the sky blue?" a person of faith can only answer that God decrees it or formulate an inaccurate scientific answer. A person with some science background understands water vapor in the air refracts incoming sunlight toward the blue end of the visible light spectrum. Scientific endeavors, such as rockets and telescopes, have shown that there is no solid firmament above the Earth, as the Bible states.

When asked, "Why did I get sick?" a person of faith can only answer that God willed it, while a microbiologist could isolate the bacteria or virus that caused the infection and provide antibiotics or antivirals to eliminate the infection.

At a magic show, a person who relies on faith to explain the world can only marvel at the wonders. A person with a scientific background notes the smoke and mirrors and the rabbit under the podium, noting that the hat must have a removable panel.

When confronted with horrors in the world, a person of faith can only say that God willed it, perhaps to give Christians something to do. They might pray for God to provide food for the starving. A scientist, however, creates fertilizers, dams, or new strains of drought-resistant crops.

Science teaches people to think of logical, physical causes for events. This makes people less gullible.

By making people less gullible and intellectually lazy, yes indeed, science undermines religious faith.
TK Kenyon,
Author of RABID and CALLOUS: Two novels about science and religion, with some sex and murder.

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