There are certain questions that wonder us, why are we here? What is the meaning of life? How is it that we exist? To some it is a mystery and to others it is ‘fact’. For century’s scientist have researched the stars, dug up fossils, studied the land in hopes of answering these questions. Since an earlier age before scientific research, humans had religion and still to this day religion has a huge impact on society. Atheist argue, although scientist have not yet found the exact answer, there is space within scientific research to further discover the answers to the questions that we seek. Believers of religion on the other hand are certain on the nature of reality and believe the scriptures to fact like the common knowledge that the sky is blue. People on either side of this argument are passionate and believe strongly in what they stand for. When you put an atheist in a room with a Muslim and throw the question of existence in the mix there is sure to be some tension. When it comes to governments and the passing of certain legislations that’s when a divide in society becomes visible. Taking that into consideration, scientific and religious approaches to understanding the nature of reality are ultimately incompatible and may come to an understanding but never to an agreement of such.
Many scholars of science and non-religious believers in general are deeply against the belief of religion and disregard the belief of God with a passion. Many atheists and non-believers of religion look at the origin of religion that it was formed in an uneducated era and that the bible comes from a period where human beings were under developed. The bible dates back to a period where humans had the least resources, knowledge and tools. According to the podcast (God, the Universe & the Big Questions 2015) the bible was written in a time where people had little knowledge therefore they wrote about what they knew, it was their way of describing certain events, they struggled to find words to describe what happened meaning that the factual and literal views of the bible should be removed. It is also believed that the bible and the events that took place within the bible are hypothetic and instead of these events actually occurring they are representations of a belief system and paint a picture of an underlying statement. Atheist believe that there is no supernatural life beyond the physical world. Scientific naturalism is the belief that the universe has no overall purpose, but humans are capable of living purposeful lives here on earth also, there is no such thing as an afterlife causing people to make the most out of the life they have on earth. Everything that is happening around us and that has happened is a course of nature and is explained through science or the potential of science. When it comes down to morality how do we know what is right from wrong? Many religious people may think morals come from scriptures however most people live a certain way out of ethical principle. According to scientific naturalism the faith of God is to be rejected. To live by a moral standard does not require religion, humans are interconnected people and understand that to live a happy life you must get along with others therefore a respect for other people’s well-beings is necessary. Studies show that non-believers have a shared sense of faith not necessarily religion but a community ‘religion’, which is having long deep conversations with friends and building relationships, attending sports and other activities within the community. The scientific view on reality does not require religion to be a good person, it is out of intrinsic reward as to live morally right rather than the reward of a better life after death (God, the Universe and the big questions 2015). Many of us believe in freedom of speech even if we may not agree with everything that has been said, we pay our taxes, don’t cheat, don’t kill, and we treat people how we would like to be treated. These principles can be found in scriptures and holy books but they can also can be found on a blog written by an atheist, it doesn’t take some supreme being nor prophet to decipher what it is to be good and do good, these principles are examples of what the average person in todays day and age would consider morally right.
The belief in science, for example, evolution has followers due to its evidential knowledge and multitudes of evidence. Believers of evolution purely believe what is said due to the facts behind it and the research done to create articles and books. Fundamentalists are right in their claims because it is written in a holy book and they stand by it to the point that when evidence goes against the holy book, it is the evidence that needs to be abolished and the book still remains true. When a book of science is wrong someone will eventually discover it and correct the book. This process is not the same in the context of the holy bible. Scientist believe in science and evolution because of the facts and evidence provided, if anything else was to come along and disregard that evidence, they would then abandon it almost instantly. Other philosophers argue that the belief is scientific evidence is another form of fundamentalist faith (Hawkins 2006). Richard Hawkins quotes “My passion is increased when I think about how much the poor fundamentalists, and those, whom they influence, are missing. The truths of evolution, along with many other scientific truths, are so engrossingly fascinating and beautiful”. For religious believers it is hard to spend your whole life believing in such events and having secure knowledge of where you come from and knowing the reason for your existence. To then be faced with knowledge that all of that could be a lie and you were mistaken. Their sense of security and stability has been taken away from them and it has left them in the deep end. For example, Stephen Jay Goud was a young scientist on his journey of achieving his dream to be a science teacher when he came across the knowledge that the world is more than 10,000 years old. He had a fundamentalist religious upbringing so was shook by the discovery he had made. Goud then took a bible and cut out every piece of it that would be wrong on the bases of science he was then left with so little (Hawkins 2006). He had a choice to make, except one and reject the other. He gave up on his dreams of becoming a science teacher and chose the Bible. This was an example of fundamentalism. With all evidence assured, Stephen Jay Goud put down his scientific research and remained truthful to his faith. Einstein quoted “’Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.
We are used to not challenging religion compared to anything else that we do not agree with and would usually speak out about but when you look at it rationally why shouldn’t these questions be asked, and certain topics be debated. Society and the state have an overwhelming respect for religion. For example, it is a lot easier for someone of religion to gain conscientious objector status in wartime. You could hold a PHD and be a moral philosopher with a brilliant paper and the board would still give you a hard time compared to someone with a religious background (Hawkins 2006). In religious communities, the distrust of the scientific community pushes people to doubt scientific evidence on topics such as climate change (Hanes. 2014, p. 309). Religion is privileged and favoured upon when it comes to media discussions and ethics in the public and government. Whenever a disagreement over reproductive or sexual morals occurs, religious leaders from several different religious groups are the first to step in and be representatives on influential committees, the television or the radio (Hawkins 2006). Society seem to pave the way in favour of religious leaders over someone whom has a PhD, is a moral philosopher or a family lawyer. An example of this is on the 21st Feb 2006, the United States of Americas supreme court ruled a law against the consumption of hallucinogenic drugs which everyone had to obey except a church in New Mexico who was exempt from the law (Hawkins 2006). Members of the church believe that to gain a deeper understanding of God they have to consume a particular tea which contains the illegal drug dimethyl-tryptamine and without any provided evidence they were exempt. In comparison to the evidence provided on cannabis and its effects to reduce the discomfort and nausea cancer patients endure when undergoing chemo therapy. In 2005, the supreme court ruled that the use of cannabis for medical purposes by patients is deemed illegal and patients are liable to be prosecuted (Hawkins 2006). Another example of religious privileging is the fact that religion is a legal justification for discrimination against homosexuals. In countries like America, you are unable to insult homosexuals and use freedom of prejudice as an excuse but if you were to use freedom of religion as an excuse you would get away with it (Hawkins 2006). It is clear that there is favouritism towards religion, over scientific views and religion is kind of used as trump card. Religion seems to be a very sensitive topic that society would much rather avoid which causes people to allow certain things to pass that they usually wouldn’t.
It is said that religious groups are growing throughout the world and instead of using their position to provide wisdom they are using it to force government leaders into following their position (Hawkins 2006). In 2017 at the Values Voter Summit, President Donald trump addressed the crowd saying that in America “we don’t worship government, we worship God” (Taylor 2017). Religion make up the majority, if someone it to disagree with religion, they are threatened by a reduce in funds or votes. Political preaches believe that to be a moral person you must follow the same beliefs as that certain religion. In saying that, in 1796 it was stated in the treaty that the United states of America was not founded under a Christian nation. Although America is legally deemed a secular country, religious groups, churches have become the rival of this controversy ever since. During the World Wars thousands of conscientious people in America denied going into the wars. Those who were of religion worked for the Civilian Public Service as firefighters or farmers on their home front. Someone that could not prove their belief in a ‘supreme being’ were sent to labour camps or to prison. Over time after debates with various appeal boards and still no agreement of such, Daniel Seeger took his argument to the supreme court where in 1965 it was ruled that one did not have to believe in god to have a conscience to object (Cep 2018). Daniel Seeger created a turning point for atheist as they have always been the minority and were once denied the right to stand up in count in their own defence. For century’s atheist have been discriminated against, by civil authorities, and fellow-citizens. Despite the stand from Seeger and many non-believers identifying themselves and standing before the courts. America still have a large number who go against atheist and don’t want them teaching their children. Surveys show that Americans would rather a Mormon, Muslim or Gay President over an atheist and to add, some people do not object to keep nonbelievers from holding office (Cep 2018). An absence of God or the lack in the belief of God is often mistaken in having no moral sense or any other meaningful beliefs. Many colonists went to America looking to freely practice their own faith in which they inherited the idea that atheist were not good citizens and should not be aloud in the social contract. Margret Downey has documented multiple incidents throughout schools, media, workplace community and the government where there has been harassment, job loss, shunning of family and even murder (Hawkins 2006). The evidence that Downey has collected concludes it to be virtually impossible for a true atheist to be elected as President. It is said that any admission of atheism would be political suicide for any candidate going for Presidency.
The effects from the psychological abuse children received growing up Catholic was far worst then any physical abuse children of the church received. The terrifying vision of hell left kids traumatised. A lady named Jill Mytton had escaped from Christianity as an adult and now runs support groups for people who also had a similar traumatizing childhood. She explained that the process of leaving the Christian community is extremely difficult. People are stepping into the unknown, leaving behind the only thing they knew, structure, social network and a belief system that they had lived their entire life based off. Christians who have moved away from family and friends and given up on their religion tend not to tell their families and the Christians who did tell their families got a bad response. There have been reports on love ones disowning their kin due to a change in belief or disregard of religion (Hanes 2014). There is a fear of expressing atheism or non-belief in Christian society’s, people are known to do insane things for their faith, like disown a loved one. In the past, believers of God have been scared to realise, but have come to a conclusion that God is not real. People have lived their entire lives believing in something and for it to be taken away in an instance is scary and it possess a loss of identity. In saying that, two highly educated professors wrote to Richard Hawkins explaining that their parents are so caught up in their religion, one parent is in permanent grief fearing for her son’s immortal soul and the father of the other professor wishes his son was never born and is certain that he is going to hell. These professors were confident and well educated and were not afraid to speak out (Hawkins 2014). For other people growing up with religiously strict parents and living in a community surrounded by religion it would be extremely difficult for them to share their true beliefs and even extend and do further research into what else maybe out there.
In conclusion, the challenge is to find peaceful grounds between science and religion. History shows that there have been major controversies among the two and the battle within society and the state still remain. One belief contradicts the other and unless people would be able to respect someone else’s opinion (not meaning they agree with it) there will be no common ground. Long history of religion has ingrained a narrow way of thinking into generations and generations where they are fearful to believe in anything else apart from what they were taught as a child. Even if someone of deep religion was struck with an epiphany that maybe the world is older than 10,000 years old, many would disregard the evidence they had found in the name of God and stay true to their faith because that is what they have known their entire life to the point where it has become apart of their identity. It is not easy for people with religious backgrounds, families and communities to step out and say that they believe in something else and that maybe scientific research is true, resulting in only a very brave few to ever leave their religion. Atheist, scientists and nonbelievers are given a hard time throughout the world, they are the minority and what they are saying goes completely against religion and the faith in God. Religion and nonbelievers can come to an agreement of morality and that the belief in God is not needed to have moral ethics, although many religious people often get this mistaken.