The Bogus Conflict of Science v. Religion

This is a repeat of a post back in 2014. It may not seem to have anything to do with recovery, but since recovery is about learning to think clearly as much as anything else, and since the problems some folks have with the idea of religion can hinder recovery, I believe the relevance merits repeating it.

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It seems to me that, philosophically speaking, there can be no actual conflict between science and metaphysical issues such as religion. I think the “conflict” is mostly a construct designed to divide (and hopefully conquor) for economic and/or political purposes.

As a discipline, science involves only things that can be observed, measured and quantified.  Metaphysics involves things that cannot be measured, observed, quantified, or shown to exist or not exist using scientific methods. As any logician will tell you, failure to prove something does not constitute proof of anything. Therefore, there can be no discussion of metaphysics based on science, and “science” as a discipline cannot have an opinion, pro or con, on metaphysics.

Logic and observation can confirm scientific principles, but even in those cases it can only predict probable outcomes based on observation. Those who believe in metaphysical matters can believe whatever they want, and science can neither prove nor disprove it.  Thus, it seems to me that no conflict can exist except in the minds of those who want it.

If I want to believe that a metaphysical influence caused the primordial soup to combine in a certain way and guided the development of life in certain directions using scientific principles, I can’t be proven wrong, and that position does not conflict with science in any way. However, if I maintain that the Earth was created 6 millennia ago, in contradiction of myriad scientific indications to the contrary, that statement is based solely on my opinion and the opinions of those who prefer to believe as I do.  We call those opinions “faith”, and whether or not we agree with them, we must honor them if we expect our beliefs and opinions to be honored.

The conflicts between the two occur when folks who don’t understand these essential differences attempt to conflate one with the other. One can have all the opinions one wants. Those have nothing to do with either science or metaphysics.  They are, rather, interpretations, colored by what one hopes his or her reality to be.   There is certainly reason for concern when such beliefs affect the lives of non-believers, but that is an entirely different matter.  Blindly refusing to consider the beliefs and concerns of the other side is unworthy of anyone, regardless of the issue, and does nothing to resolve problems. In fact, it has been the cause of most of the major problems throughout history.

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