Are Science and Religion Really in Opposition?

Sir William BraggI recently came across an excerpt from a quote by Sir William Bragg, 1915 Nobel Prize laureate for Physics, in a Facebook post which I am stating in its entirety:

From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.

As I have stated in other posts I am an agnostic and as such have not concluded whether there is a spiritual truth or not.  But I am open to such a possibility.  Most of all I acknowledge the accomplishments of science and the scientific method of hypothesis, proofs and rigorous verification especially from scientific peers.  But science is no more perfect that our understanding of spirituality.  Both are based upon a certain amount of Faith: science in the faith that a hypothesis can explain the past and predict the future and enable man to better understand and engineer solutions to facilitate daily life; and religion in the faith that there is a spiritual part of man which gives him purpose with hopes that there is an even higher purpose than he that gives guidance in his daily life.

I find it as hypocritical for scientist to deny religion as false as I find it absurd for religious people to deny the possible truths of science.  Science is the rational pursuit of physical Truth and understanding.  Christianity and other mainstream religions are about the revelations of spiritual Truth and purpose.  They complement one another and only oppose one another in their methodologies.  If both ultimately lead to the same Truth then they are both validated as part of it.  But both are a long ways from that.  Christianity is still largely about faith in the existence of God and spiritual guidance through scriptural/doctrinal and inspirations and Science still about faith in scientific theory about unlocking the mysteries of the physical Universe and having a deeper understanding of it.  No sane person can say that they understand God’s purpose for man completely such as life after death just as no sane scientist can claim to completely understand the vastness of the universe such as Dark Energy, the Big Bang, singularities, and Inflation.

But both are equally hampered by the confines of our limited and mature inflexible minds to learn as babes with their pliable, absorbing, curious, creative, puzzle solving, and innocent minds.  Babies are able to start from almost nothing and figure out the extreme complexities of language and the world around them in only 2-3 years, the minds of real geniuses.  They can often communicate in multiple languages.

I find far more religious people in denial of science even though they use the products of its creations from cars through cell phones throughout their lives than I find scientists espousing the falsehood of religion.  Most certainly the religious conservatives are  most vocal about it because science often conflicts with their fundamentalist views about creation.  It is no surprise to me that there are many scientists where religion plays an important role in their lives as there are religious scholars who believe in the validity and value of science.

The only conflict between them is in the limitations of our minds and our willingness to see that they explain different aspects of our existence.  To paraphrase Sir William Bragg quote, religion gives us purpose for existence and science provides the tools to enable us a better chance of achieving it.

I don’t see why God could not have created the laws of evolution and the big bang theory of the universe that science currently hypothesize.  Why must the Christian Bible be treated as revealing all aspect of life including science?  This would seem to limit the scope of God’s creativity.  It would seem to me that God is far greater than the confines of a few thousand pages of scripture and likewise his creation.  The Bible speaks mostly about man’s relationship with God and only touches briefly about creation at a level people were able to understand at the time.  Even educated non-scientists today cannot understand science.  How could the Bible thousands of years ago make sense of it.  I feel it should be possible for both to coexist just as it is possible for a building or piece of furniture to be beautiful, functional, and structurally sound.  They are all different aspects of the same thing.  It is like the story of blind people feeling different parts of an elephant and each describing what they felt an elephant looked like.

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