Are Religion and Science Irreconcilable?

Does an individual hold the power to be both scientific and religious?  This is similar to asking if one can look right and left simultaneously. It is simply impossible to do so concurrently in both cases; however, it is very possible to look right at one moment and then left at another.  One must decide when it is appropriate to look right versus left. When speaking about traditional science and religion, for one to be both religious and scientific they must disregard certain facets of one while practicing the other.  When focusing on their fundamental goals the two are incompatible in the way that they often contradict one another, for example, the big bang theory and creation through a divine being or beings. The inability to practice both simultaneously may lead to some people feeling stuck between two major aspects of their life.


   A survey was taken of scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, directed by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in summer of 2009, “finds that members of this group are, on the whole, much less religious than the general public.”  The research shows that approximately 83% of the general population in the United States identifies as religious compared to the considerably smaller 33% of scientists that consider themselves religious. The results demonstrate that it is more difficult for a scientist to be religious than an average citizen; however, the results debunk the notion that it is impossible.


Focusing on these modern scientists who have discovered faith, what is it that allows them to do such a thing, but is so difficult for others to achieve?  It is the act of modern religion, being more imaginative, and some contemporary scientists coming together to compliment one another rather than contradict.  Many religions, like  Roman Catholicism, have evolved to acknowledge that evolutionary theory is factual, and Pope John Paul II has even called evolution “more than a hypothesis.”  This recognition of a scientifically proven fact does not exist exclusively among Catholicism but is recognized throughout many modernized religions allowing scientists to express their faith more comfortably.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote a manifesto facing this question claiming that the two must work in unison, but also must be kept apart. This is similar to texting and driving. It is great to enjoy them both separately, but partaking in the two simultaneously may lead to a negative outcome.


When looking at traditional religion and science from a very broad standpoint it may seem that the two are polar opposites, but when closely examined it is recognizable that most religions have adapted over time to work with science.  Modern religious values can differ greatly from traditional ones, allowing for itself to build off of science rather than contradict. This partnership between modern science and religion eliminates much tension between the two necessities of belief and actuality in a person’s life.  So when attacking this controversial topic there are many factors that play into the question and, in actuality, modernized versions of religion and science allow for minimization in conflict.