Science and Relgion
Science and religion have not always peacefully coexisted. There have been many issues where scientific discovery and religious belief have clashed. Religion is based on ancient belief passed down through generations. As humans discovered more and more about themselves, they found that many of the things that religion told could not true. This caused an incredible crisis between the pious religious and the scientific world, especially in the Western world where Christianity dominated society, and where these scientific discoveries were being made. It was difficult for people at first to believe in God and at the same time except these new scientific findings that negated many things that religion had told them.
During the scientific revolution many religious issues were taken up. One was the issue of the earth being the center of the Universe, which the Christian doctrine held up as the truth. Through the work of astronomers like Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo, much was learned about our universe. One thing that was learned was that the earth revolved around the Sun, along with all the other planets of our solar system. Also it was learned that the sun is only one star among hundreds of billions of other stars of different shapes and sizes. This discovery baffled the church. How could we be only a tiny part of something greater? It was believed that God created the Universe to accommodate humankind and that everything in that Universe revolved around this. It now became apparent that this is not true. During the seventeenth century the Catholic Church was quick to reject these findings. Galileo didn’t understand the conflict, and pointed out that scripture is very old and is meant to be more symbolic than factual in many cases, especially those on science. He felt that religion and science could in fact coexist. Unfortuently, the church didn’t agree with Galileo. Philosopher Benedict de Spinoza also wanted to avoid the conflict between church and religion and felt that everything in the Universe was God and therefore the scientific inquiry of the time was important for discovering God’s true nature. Blaise Pascal also sought to keep religion and science united. He tried to show that Christianity was not contrary to reason. These men were obviously ahead of there time in understanding that religion texts are not science books, and thus it is up to mankind to discover the mysteries of our universe. The church was not so ahead of its time and were quick to excommunicate these scientific men. Many of the students of science and wealthy Europeans who learned of the advancements began to give up their religious pursuits, feeling that these findings proved that God did not exist. This was not the intent of these scientists, whose philosophy was usually that since the study of science helps men, and that is good, God must look favorably upon these pursuits. This era in history sparked a tradition of...