Well, this is obviously a dense topic that’s been widely debated by everyone everywhere since modern science was discovered: does science disprove religion, or can they coexist?
I do not mean to discredit anyone’s beliefs here, because the truth is, no one can know if religion is true. In a way, we are all agnostic, and I am only sharing how I view the link between science and religion through my experience as a science student.
This year I joined AP Chemistry as one of two sophomores in the class because of my passion for the sciences. As an agnostic girl hovering between Buddhism, Christianity, and atheism, I expected the class to sway me towards the latter. As everyone says, if you truly immerse yourself in science, religion simply cannot be accepted in your world view.
Throughout this year, AP Chemistry has been the class that most convinces me that religion could very well be true: more than English, history, or any of the arts could make me believe. Why did science, the seeming antithesis of religion, prove religion for me? Well, several reasons, which I will list here.
1. In Science, we aren’t really sure of everything.
Yes, folks, it’s true: when you really dig down into the intricacies of particle physics and molecular chemistry, most of what we know to be true is based on theories. We aren’t actually sure if atoms behave in the ways we think they do- there is only a high probability that atoms behave a certain way most of the time based on experimental data. Other things, such as electron movement, actually baffle scientists; they have no formal explanation for such events. There is still ambiguity in the sciences. While this in no way proves religion, it does expose a shadow of doubt towards science: we truly do not know everything. Next time someone tells you that we’ve figured out the world and science is all knowing, and therefore religion is false, kindly let them know: electrons magically jump and transport themselves from energy state to energy state, and we have no idea how.
2. Science is currently moving TOWARDS, not away, from certain religious beliefs.
In Chem, we recently watched a video about multiverse and string theory. Now, I do not in any way claim to be an expert on the subject, or to even fully understand it, but here’s the amateur and dumbed-down rundown: many scientists believe that there may be an infinite amount of universes in existence, spawning all the time, and certain ones exist in different dimensions than our own. Different dimensions apply to time, and the infinite possibilities that time can yield. If you adapt modern religion to a belief that God is a being that exists in an alternate universe in the eighth or ninth dimension, then many scientists would very much agree with you. This doesn’t prove religion in its traditional sense, but it does open the gateway for viewing religion in a different and scientifically actual light. (Note: the multiverse theory is only a theory, but it is proving more and more plausible through the observance of dark matter and quarks and things like that which I have no knowledge on whatsoever).
3. Some science lines up very, very nicely with the thoughts of the Buddha.
While I did not learn this in Chemistry class, I do think it’s worth bringing up. The video we watched also discussed the Big Bang Theory, the event that took place 14 billion years ago in which our universe spontaneously exploded into existence from an extremely dense particle floating in the emptiness of nothing (or in between other multiverses…?). The particle was, likely, the remnant of a previous universe that had contracted into itself. Turns out that the Buddha actually described this event far before Stephen Hawking could get a chance. When asked how the world came into existence, the Buddha answered (along these lines, not his actual words): The universe was re-birthed from a universe before it, and the universe is cyclically being born and destroyed. This is essentially what scientists believe about the Big Bang. Additionally, the Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Buddhism: energy is constant and when we die, we return to the energy of the universe and we never truly disappear; our inner essence is maintained. And, what’s more, Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Buddhism: karma is the system of cause and effect, that one action will have a reaction that is directly created by the original action. Boom. Buddhism = science, in many respects. No wonder the Dalai Lama is often invited to talks between particle physicists.
Sorry for how dense that entry was; I know it’s a lot to get through. I think it’s amazingly cool though that the world of science just might be lining up with religion in new and unbelievable ways. To all the people of faith out there, not to worry: the people who discredit your religion with science may be in for a big surprise.