Sunday, September 7, 2014

Science versus Religion

I am taking three entry level science classes this semester, and we are talking a lot about some of the fundamentals of science.  What is science?  What is observation?  What is a theory? etc.

The class that has gone into this the most is my weather class.  On the first day of class the professor gave a pop quiz.  (We didn't turn it in, however, we did discuss the answers as a class).

  1. What are atoms?
  2. How is hair color passed on from parent to child?
  3. What causes earthquakes?
  4. What causes the ocean tides?
  5. What causes the seasons?
  6. Does the Earth orbit the Sun?
  7. Which is bigger:  Earth or Jupiter?
  8. What causes polio?
  9. Does God exist?
After the pop quiz, we discussed a lot about how we know what we know and what are the fundamental differences between the first 8 questions and the last question.

The next class period, our professor defined science as a description of nature based on observation (measurements).  It continues to define itself as we practice it.  It is rarely revolutionary, predictive and falsifiable (testable with an observation.)

I have been thinking about this a lot.  For me I view my scientific knowledge and my religious knowledge as the same thing:  Knowledge based on observation and experimentation.  

I know God exists because I have preformed the experiment of the Book of Mormon several times and I have always gotten the same answers.  I have read the Book of Mormon (research), especially Moroni 10:3-5, which outlines the experiment, and I have prayed (experiment), meeting the conditions that Mormon puts forth, and I have felt the Spirit confirming to my soul that the Book of Mormon is true, and therefore that God exists, and so forth(results).  And I have had many personal encounters with the spirit, in which I have felt God's love for me (observation)

I know that the Earth orbits the Sun, because I have seen the sun rise day after day (observation), I have been taught and understand the physics of gravity (research), and I have performed many experiments with gravity, such as dropping a rock to see if it will fall.  Likewise, I have also gotten the same results every time--the rock falls.

However I also understand that there is a fundamental difference between science and religion.  I have been trying to figure out what it is since the start of this semester, and today while I was sitting in Fast and Testimony meeting at church, the spirit illuminated my understanding, and I have an answer to what is the fundamental difference between science and religion: measurements. 

Just how do you measure God's love for you?  What scale would you even use?  How do you measure the Spirit?  Where is the quantifiable way to measure any of this?  As of right now, I don't believe there exists any way to measure the things of God.

In science, we use thermometers, scales, rulers, etc to give numbers and measurement to our observations.  This makes the experiments repeatable, such that any person in any lab in any place can compare their results with the results of any other person.  It is quantifiable and measurable.  

Now that I have identified the fundamental difference between science and religion: measurements, I believe that it is even more important to understand their similarities.  They both teach truth, they both have knowledge, and they both answer fundamental questions of understanding (such as where do we come from?)  I think I have learned as much about the Creation this week in my three science classes this week, as I did yesterday when I went to the temple.

My favorite video: We Lived With God on this subject talks about how science and religion are like have two eyes.  Each eye sees something slightly different, and with both of them, there is depth and perspective.  

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