Why Science and Religion will never agree

posted 16 April 2002

This article is an adaptation of an impromptu rant I went into on a mailing list, hence the somewhat light-hearted and ever-so-slightly aggressive tone.

Science and religion are two systems with the same goal: to explain the universe. The most popular example of this explanation is that of perhaps the most basic question: where did the universe come from in the first place? Yes, this is a creationism rant guys, go grab your Bibles and come out fighting!

The reason why one particular system cannot currently win, and maybe why neither ever will, is because when asked "Why does the universe exist?" both systems say "because". The difference between the system is, religion expects you to be satisfied with that answer, and science doesn't. Let me illustrate in two interviews:

RELIGION:

Q: So where did everything come from?
A: It all came from God creating it.
Q: Okay then, where'd god come from?
A: He/She/It just exists.
Q: But that's lame!
A: You must have faith. Stop asking questions. Support our roof-repair fund. Don't have sex with other men. Wear funny clothing. Stop doing fun things.

SCIENCE:

Q: So where did everything come from?
A: It all came from a big bang.
Q: Okay then, where'd the big bang come from?
A: Well, we dunno. Maybe from a big crunch, but before that there was ANOTHER big bang... and, well, we're looking into it. We think we can find out one day.
Q: But that's lame!
A: We know! Give us more money and we'll see if we can get a better answer.

Both systems require you to have faith (and don't say they can co-exist, because REALLY they can't, and don't get me started on that one). One asks for your faith perpetually, the other one asks for it until they get an answer. For this reason, I put my faith in -- and my money towards -- science, not religion. And, for the stop-having-fun, warp-your-fragile-little-mind reasons, I also actively discourage religion in most forms. Religion is dumb, dumb, dumb. But hey! That's just my opinion. However, it will remain my opinon until you can prove I'm wrong.

The problem with religion vs. science is this: religion can be disproven by scientific means. In fact, this has been going on almost continuously since Galileo, but the Catholic church and others have managed to pretend that this is not the case. Unfortunately, science can also be "disproven" (although that is not strictly the word) by religious means -- mainly by saying "God HAS to exist because I believe in him"). Scientists, being scientific, will not accept that religious argument, and religious people, being stup.. sorry, religious, will not accept the scientific argument.

So the two are forever doomed to disagree since they are not even working in the same framework of reality. If you like, they are in the same X-Y coordinates, but are on different Z planes entirely. It looks like they're meeting, from above, but that's just not the case. This is why people who call themselves "religious scientists" crack me up.

< Seldo puts on shiny suit and goggles>
Okay, activate flamethrowers now...