Essay: Religion Has Provided Benefits to the Development of Science

Religion and science have always been viewed as two different fields of study since antiquity. The relations between religion and science can even be regarded as ‘enemy.’ From their characteristics point of view, science is more objective, logical, and often focuses on evidence which is based on observation or experimentation, while religion primarily relies on faith, revelation, and can be regarded as a set of beliefs about the nature and the universe. Furthermore, there are several religious viewpoints are opposed to scientific perspectives. Therefore, they have long been considered to be two unrelated and even hostile areas. However, they have connections and religion doesn’t only have harmful effects on science’s development. In fact, even though they have great differences, to a certain degree, they can still be beneficial to each other. They both, ultimately, aim to study the world and search for truth. This paper will argue that religion has provided benefits to the development of science.
There are many similar ideas between religion and science. Both of them encourage people to pursue truth. From the biological point of view, many religious ideas and scientific views are coincide. For instance, the ‘great chain of being’ is a theory about religion which claims that there is a strict, religious hierarchical structure of living beings, from lowest microorganisms to the apes, and believes that they were created by God at the same time. They formed a structure of a mountain with humanity near its apex. With the appearance of the biological classification, scientists ranked animals over plants based on their ability to move and sense, and graded the animals by their different reproductive model. It is similar with the ‘great chain of being.’ Additionally, from astronomy perspective, in the Quran, it states, ‘And it is we who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is we who are steadily expanding it (The Qur’an, 51:47).’ It can be interpreted as that the universe was not originally existed that it had a beginning. This statement has similarities with the Big Bang theory and the universe inflation theory, so this scientific theory proved the religious concept. Another example is from the Bible that ‘The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun (Isaiah 30.26) ,’ which is consistent with modern scientific theory that moonlight is the light reaches Earth from the Moon, consisting mostly of sunlight, starlight and earthlight reflected from those portions of its surface which the Sun’s light strikes. Therefore, to a certain extent, religion and science have similar arguments.
Many scientists have religion and it can truly help them do better when they study science. Many scientists who have made great contributions to science, such as Albert Einstein and Lord Kelvin, are in possession of a tolerant and even awe attitude to religion. For instance, Andr??-Marie Amp??re, a famous physicist who first demonstrated that two current-carrying wires exert a force on one another, was a Catholic and relied on his religious faith for strength through the many trials of his somewhat eccentric life. When serious doubts harassed him, he would turn to the bible and the Fathers of the Church for inspiration and encouragement. Moreover, Joseph Taylor, who received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the first known binary pulsar, had ever said that ‘A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.’ Accordingly, religion played a good role on scientists by providing them with spiritual support.
Religion offers moral principles which can indicate the direction of scientific research. There is quite a few fields that science will study and want to study, but they may not ethical. For science, its job is to study the physical world but it do not supply theological interpretations or provide the moral standards for acting in the world. Science is not always right that a number of scientific research have changing and destroying nature or even the whole world, and this will also threaten human self. Scientific achievements, such as chemicals, bacterial culture and atomic energy are benefit to mankind, but also lead to the ecological damage, environmental pollution and energy depletion problem. Human cloning is a great example. Purely from a scientific point of view, do have any wrong. Nevertheless, they are against the human ethics. The reason why don’t clone human is not a lack of science or technology but a moral issue that it can create human but deprive human’s uniqueness. That is why people need moral principles to decide what and how science do research. For theists, they believe God intends for human to grow in their appreciation and understanding of his creation which includes not only knowledge but also human body. At a result, religion offers powerful ethical values to science in order to ensure the science research is beneficial for nature, the world and even human self.
In addition, it is not easy for people to well connect their daily life with giant things by only using science, such as the universe, but religion can do better. There are several fields of science which are very strange because people may have limited contact with these knowledge in their daily lives. For example, people usually almost have no opportunities to contact themselves with the universe. Many people only simply learn the knowledge of astronomy in school or from books but it is quite difficult to comprehend because it is very far away from their life and quite abstract. Nonetheless, religion, to some extent, can do better by telling people that human seems insignificant when compared with the vastness of the cosmos. It is can give people to a clearer understanding of the universe and astronomy. That is a benefit that religion can help people know science better.
However, there are still a few people stubbornly believe that religion has absolute no benefits to the development of science and they use ‘warfare’ to describe the relations between religion and science. Clinton Dawkinsan, an ethologist and evolutionary biologist, is hostile to religion because he think religion actively “subverts science and saps the intellect.” Moreover, since antique, there are a number of examples that religion use its powerful influence to suppress scientists such as the Galileo affair. Religion’s adverse effects on science do exist, but it doesn’t mean religion cannot offer benefits to science. If people deny religion only because of the negative impact, that looks too one-sided, and unfair. Just as I mentioned above, science is related to religion and religion can not only provide scientists with spiritual and ethical support, but also shorten the distance between ordinary people and science. Consequently, people cannot blindly reject religion and should not ignore the positive impact of religion on science.
Religion and science have been in conflict constantly throughout history. They are too often seen as aggressive, with nothing contribute to each other. However, they are not entirely opposite and religion truly provided benefits to the development of science. People cannot only believe religion or science. For scientists, some of them are very arrogant that they always considered themselves as most objective and use ‘objective’ to force others to accept their views. Therefore, they need to acknowledge their arrogance and try to accept the advantages of religion. The ethical principles in religion will helpful for their scientific research. For theologians, they need to abandon their paranoid, learn more scientific knowledge and be trained to think in a more justified way. They need to recognize that there are wrong and outdated ideas in religion and religion is not always right. In addition, the departments of education need to encourage people to abandon their bias that religion and science are completely contradictory, reject their shortages and adopt their strengths. In this way, the role of the religion and science can be better played.

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