There has been a long standing debate on the notion of choosing between religion and science for one’s own belief system. From the origin of life to what occurs upon death, people have made the issue mutually exclusive; either they believe in science or religion, and they have pitted them against each other. I often hear people say they don’t believe in religion because they rely on science for the answers. Similarly, people who belong to a religious group negate notions of evolution or scientific findings, even in the face of clear facts. Both positions have always perplexed me, even as a child, I did not see why it had to be one way or the other. Perhaps there is another way of looking at this age old question that includes both orientations into one explanation.
Firstly, religion can be defined as belonging to a group that follows a doctrine. Everyone who belongs to this group believes the doctrine to be true and right for them. On the other hand, spirituality is a personal and private quest for understanding one’s purpose and meaning in life. People who are religious can also be spiritual, as these are not mutually exclusive. Those who define themselves as spiritual however need not belong to any particular religious group but will find a belief system that resonates with them.
Given this, scientific inquiry can be entertained by anyone who holds spiritual values, that is, their own private, personal journey inward. Similarly, people who have a spiritual quest can certainly belong to a religious group and be open to scientific findings. There does not have to be any contradiction here. The only time contradiction occurs is when one is steadfast in one camp or the other without opening the mind to entertaining another way. I realize for some this is a tall order but even the steadfast Catholic Church has done it over the centuries.
While many years ago some priests were excommunicated for their scientific findings, the church itself has evolved with science. The first person to postulate the Big Bang Theory was a priest of Catholic Origin and this is also the case with many other scientific contributions. Other religious groups have also stated that religion and science do not contradict; the Catholic Church is not alone on this stance. Many scientific researchers have also stated that religion, spirituality, and science do not contradict. It’s a matter of opening the mind to include new ideas in a new way that do not conflict with one’s own personal belief system.
So by looking at spirituality, religion, and science in a more inclusive manner one can decide for him or herself where the boundaries lie. Herein lies the rub. One must think for him or herself and by educating one’s self can come to a conclusion that feels right. The simple categorization of religion and science does not cut it. Spirituality, spirituality and religion, spirituality and science, spirituality and religion and science, religion, science, and finally, religion and science, are all viable options. It’s simply a matter of finding one’s place in the options available. The question of choosing between science and religion is just too simple to be viable. It’s like asking someone to choose between apples and oranges when in reality, they can really have both.
With Love and Openness
Teresa L. DeCicco, PhD is the author of numerous scientific papers and books. Her current book “Living Beyond the Five Senses” is available at the “BUY NOW” button at the top of the page and in bookstores everywhere.