2/24/15: The Science of Religion

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.

7 thoughts on “2/24/15: The Science of Religion

  1. I am glad to see that there is someone with a reasonable view on this!
    While I am not religious, I have always felt that there is something that science cannot offer, which religion can, and vice versa. And now I have some evidence to support my opinion with ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you! I am not devout in any religion, but I think it’s an important thing to bring up that perhaps science and religion can coexist more than we once believed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I chanced upon your blog by a very fortunate happenstance while I was in a foul mood. I don’t believe that I’ve ever been familiar with someone who has shared so many of the same beliefs and opinions as me. It was extraordinarily refreshing to read your insights on growing up. I too, am a teenager who is still growing up and trying to find meaning in this incredible universe we inhabit. I especially enjoyed this article.
    I was raised Christian(LDS specifically) but I consider myself agnostic and I have been investigating Buddhism for quite some time.
    I appreciate your points about chemistry, string theory, and the idea of multiverses. I enjoy the sciences quite a bit so I thought I might add some of my own thoughts.
    Quantum mechanics is probably the biggest testament to me of a spiritual or metaphysical side to life. Ultimately, we still know very little about how exactly the smallest particles do what they do.
    In addition, I think it is important to add that even according to the Big Bang Theory, matter existed. It was not an empty void. The bang is merely the explosive expansion of our universe which as far as we know is still continuing today.
    In addition, we still have yet to find sufficient explanations for certain spiritual phenomena.
    A good book which discusses this concept is Atwater’s “Near-death Experiences” I’d definitely recommend it.
    Once again, it was great to see your insights and I am definitely excited to read more of your posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed my blog! Part of the reason why I started it in the first place was to meet/interact with other teenagers who feel the same way I do about the world (unfortunately, there aren’t many at my school, as I’m sure you can relate to). I’m really so happy you commented and want to keep reading, because it’s people like you who I’m writing to share with.
      I wasn’t raised with much religion, except for Buddhism, so I gravitate towards it also (I have a hard time with religions who committed genocides, mass violence, etc. in the name of God). I also prefer Buddhism to other religions because it focuses on finding peace and happiness and being a positive influence on the world during life, rather than promising an afterlife and punishing sin. I guess you could say I don’t like the Heaven and Hell model.
      Anyway, to touch on your points: quantum mechanics for me is also the closest I feel to a spiritual merge of science and religion. I’m by no means well-educated on it (have to get to college first to get real lectures on the subject). I should definitely read up more on it. I was under the impression that before the Big Bang, there was a single particle that exploded into all the other particles (which eventually amassed into planets, stars, etc), but maybe I’m wrong. I will have to do more research (as I said, I’m definitely not an expert on these things). NDE stories always make me wonder about how much we understand our world, so I will definitely check that book out! Thank you so much for the long comment (I love these, really; they make me think so much more than just writing posts). So, nice to meet you, Mackenzie, and I hope to hear from you again soon!

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  3. I too am not a fan of the binary and simplistic heaven and hell model. It basically states, you’ll live a short life with no memory of a God and everyone is expected to follow that God in a short time period and then you will be subject to eternal suffering or eternal bliss.
    People are not that simple. The world isn’t black and white so it hardly seems reasonable to judge it that way. xP

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  4. Hi Avery!

    Religious teachings become distorted and misused to control thinking and behavior. Ideology
    and dogma can create conflict, division and separation. People were forced to believe and follow distorted dogma or face social alienation, torture and death. The teachings about heaven and hell became simplistic half truths to engender a fear of damnation by a seemingly very judgmental creator. The repression of independent thinking, inquiry and open mindedness created a mindset of fear and control. The ‘dark ages’ of social culture were gradually redressed by ‘The Age of Reason’ and a more scientific quest for knowledge and understanding about life.

    Religious teachings originated from individuals who had ‘peak’ intuitive experiences, insights and revelations that transcend conditioned sensory experience and language.
    Scientific discoveries have also originated from intuitive insights and revelations, when intense focus is relaxed and a more open state of consciousness is created to reveal how life operates.
    The observation of sub-atomic particles and rapid energy transformations and equations to understand these microcosmic processes of transformation has lead to bewilderment and amazement when equations end with the infinity symbol repeating and the known laws of physics become redundant. A ‘black hole’ in comprehension creates the need for a more holistic paradigm.

    Near death experiences provide insights of the connectivity of life and karmic impacts of love and hate interactions.
    In this life, we experience change within cycles of time and space and gradually learn to cope with processes of change and growth (life phases). We can be involved with religious, scientific, holistic, spiritual, artistic and humanistic quests to expand our conscious connection with life and it’s challenges of expansive growth in understanding. Awakening to a more conscious state of being may come through a near death experience or a grounded experience of nurture, care and love for self and others in the direct actions of sustaining life and well being.

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    1. Wow. That was a much better articulation of the Science-Religion connection than I could ever give! Thank you so much for sharing it, and I certainly agree with your conclusion about dogma and social systems being built around divinity and religion. Really, this whole comment was just beautifully written and held so much insight that I don’t know where to begin except that you said it all. Thank you for this! It has helped to round out so many of my beliefs.

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