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Autor: anton • August 31, 2010 • 2,087 Words (9 Pages) • 775 Views
Since the dawn of man, humans have striven to explain the many mysteries of the universe, and to justify our existence in it. Throughout this journey of self-understanding, numerous standpoints on human existence have evolved and merged into a complex, abstract manifestation called religion. However, as the human race has grown and advanced itself, many ideas expressed by religion seem less and less plausible. Advances in science and technology have yielded a new breed of human thought that has disturbed and shaken the foundations of religious ideology. Our new, scientifically grounded understanding of the universe has unfolded a plethora of answers to age-old questions, which are antithetical to the explanations offered by religion. As strong scientific evidence has surfaced which is contrary to the prevailing religious view, open-minded believers have adapted their beliefs accordingly, but many fundamentalists refuse to accept scientific evidence. This is the root of the dilemma between science and religion. Many philosophers and theists have offered their views concerning the ongoing battle between science and religion.
Reconciliation between science and religion is impossible, because the claims made by religion and the evidence provided by science are so extraordinarily different. The advance of science has caused many theists to compromise traditional religious beliefs in order to facilitate scientific evidence, thus proving that scientific explanations of the universe are more plausible than the rationales offered by religion. An excellent example of this can be seen in the question of the age of the planet Earth. According to religious theology, the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. However, there is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that proves the Earth to be many billions of years old. Many religious thinkers have responded to this evidence, by claiming that the methods used to ascertain the Earth's age are inaccurate. They argue that radioactive dating; a widely accepted method of determining the age of rocks, is inaccurate because there is no available rock sample of a known age, which the method can be calibrated to. However, this argument is obsolete, because the only calibration required to find the age of a rock is the measurement of decay rates, which can be found in the laboratory in a controlled experiment (Badash 90).
Because of the evidence provided by scientific research, many religious thinkers have been forced to compromise their position, and have attempted to blend scientific fact with biblical accounts of the age of the earth. Many theists contend that the words of the bible are metaphorical, and can be interpreted in a way that reconciles the biblical account of the Earth's age with scientific fact. According to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, the earth was created in six days: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day" [Genesis 1:31] (Catholic Information Network Online). They argue that other passages in the book of Genesis can be interpreted to mean that a day to God can be thousands of years, and because of this, the Earth could have been created over a much longer timeframe than six days, and can thus be as old as science proves it to be. However, this seems to be a weak point in the argument on behalf of the biblical age of Earth. In questioning the validity of the Bible as a literal work, it opens up the possibility that Christianity may be wrong. When religious thinkers accept scientific fact and try to harmonize it with the bible, the validity of the entire faith has been undermined, and this puts any biblical based argument on shaky ground. Another quandary sought to be resolved by both religion and science, is the question of mankind's origin.
Modern science has provided many explanations concerning the origin of man, which contradict the traditional idea of creation. The best known of these explanations is the theory of biological evolution. Simply stated, biological evolution encompasses the changes experienced by a particular species over thousands and millions of generations as it reproduces varying offspring, more of which are generally better suited to survive in their environment than the generation before (Britannica Encyclopedia Online). Evidence for biological evolution can be seen in the diversity of life that surrounds us. It is estimated that there are over two million species on Earth, all of which have similar defining characteristics. Every living organism on Earth has basic structural units called cells. This simple fact alone is key evidence that all species on Earth have common ancestry. Furthermore, the history of life recorded by fossils presents compelling evidence of evolution. The fossil record shows that the first complex life, jellyfish and worms, appeared on earth about six hundred and eighty million years ago (Britannica Encyclopedia Online). As the fossil record is evaluated further, it can be shown that these life forms evolved into more complex life-forms, and those life-forms into more complex ones, and so on. Because evolution can be clearly seen in fossil records, it is highly probable that evolution is responsible for our species' coming to being. Despite the overwhelming evidence in favor of evolution, theists still champion the idea of creationism.
Creationism holds that god created the earth and all of its species, and that the Book of Genesis gives an accurate account of creation. There are many schools of thought concerning creationism. Biblical creationists believe that the scientific explanations of the creation of the universe contradict the words of the bible. However, another school of thought, scientific creationism, believes that scientific explanations of the origin of the universe do not necessarily contradict the words of the bible. Creation science tries to blend science with religion, and uses scientific knowledge as an aid in their argument. An example of this can be seen with Genesis' account of the origin of the universe. According to the book of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light" [Genesis 1:1-3] (Catholic Information Network Online). Creation science posits that this can be a biblical explanation for the "big bang theory". According to the big bang theory, the universe began as the result of an explosion about 10 billion to 20 billion years ago. Immediately after the explosion, the universe consisted chiefly of strong radiation, which formed an expanding primordial fireball. After some time, some of the energy