Shortly after the December tsunamis, I caught a cable news talk show debating God’s role in the disaster. All of the various representatives of faith were present — Christian, Muslim, and Jew — to explain why or why not their particular God had chosen to “punish” this area of the world. But like a good episode of “Which of These Things Doesn’t Belong” on “Sesame Street” they added one other point of view which was seemingly out of place: the scientific viewpoint. This view was expressed by an atheist who was there to confirm the tsunami as simply a natural disaster and quickly dismiss the notion that a spiritual entity had anything to do with it. But the more I watched their exchanges, the clearer it became to me: The scientific point of view wasn’t really the “alternative view that didn’t belong,” but a religious one that fit right in.
Upon further examination, this discovery begins to make more sense. We remember that thousands of years ago the world was primarily polytheistic (“The worship of or belief in more than one god”). For the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and others, there were many Gods with various functions. As the world’s societies progressed, so too, did their religious beliefs. The belief in many Gods was often replaced with the belief in one. So it should come as no surprise now that the belief in one God is evolving into a belief in none.
Today, there is a growing arrogance among those in the atheist community. They perceive their disassociation from deities and reliance on science as some sort of intellectual high ground. They consider themselves “above religion.” But what many atheists do not realize is that they themselves are actively participating in religion. Just as the color black is known as the “absence of color,” yet is still considered a color, so, too, should atheism be known as an “absence of religion,” though still be considered a religion. For black it is the lack of lightness that gives it its distinction; in atheism, the lack of gods.
And just like any other religion, science has its own prophets and heroes from the past: Aristotle replaces Adam; Newton over Moses; Einstein over Jesus. In science, if you feel confused, you consult the books of the past to clear up any confusion. In religion, if you are confused — um, you consult the books of the past to clear up any confusion. A scientist will explain to you that we are all made up of tiny little microscopic parts called atoms that we cannot see, but we know are there, because, well, science says so. You can become a scientist and see for yourself. A priest will explain to you that the Holy Spirit is within you and though we cannot see it, we know it is there, because, well, religion says so. You can become a Christian and feel it for yourself.
What credibility does science hold that it can be its own defense? None, really. In fact, when one truly examines science, you’ll find it actually exists in a logical fallacy. The one single principle of science is supposed to be that “everything comes from something” though this principle itself means that it could never explain the first thing. At least with some sort of religious deity you can simply claim magic. How did God create the universe? He said it should be done and it was done. Well, where did God come from? He’s magic. It’s beyond our understanding. If the beginning, as determined by science, is also “beyond our understanding” and requires our faith, how is it superior to any religion?
In schools today, the debate is often whether or not we should be teaching creationism as science, when in reality it should be the other way around. We need to be asking if we should be teaching science as religion. Many in the U.S. are outraged by the thought of judges and others in government office displaying the Ten Commandments or representing their faith at the workplace. They feel that this represents a government endorsement of religion and demand that only science and the “non-religious” atheist view be represented by our government officials. But forcing them to do so is to refuse them their right to religious freedom and essentially endorses atheism as the official religion of the nation. Clearly each individual should be allowed to subscribe to and proudly display whatever paraphernalia from whichever religion he wishes — whether that be Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, or atheism — as long as it doesn’t interfere with his duties.
In the end, all these theories rely on our faith alone and it’s up to us to decide which parts of each we agree with most. But do not simply assume that science is infallible and has your answers because the world would have you believe it. Is E=mcÃ?Â² really any more palatable than “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”? Why? Does the Pope have a better understanding of existence than Stephen Hawking? Why? Religion and science are one and the same, only separated by a willingness or reticence to place the unexplainable on the shoulders of a magical deity; both trying to give you explanations for things that you will never truly be able to understand in your lifetime. To place science above religion is a mockery, and a growing one at that. It deserves no more respect, recognition, or appreciation than any other religion — oh, and of course, no more sympathy.