Creativity Magazine

The Great Debate

Posted on the 05 December 2012 by Rjnielsen039 @RobertJ_Nielsen

“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” ~Albert Einstein~

“As they are currently practiced, there is no common ground between science and religion…. Although just as in hostage negotiations, it’s probably best to keep both sides talking to each other.” ~Neil deGrasse Tyson~

I was recently in a discussion with a friend of mine about something that people have been arguing about for literally centuries. Science, and spirituality. Two subjects, one wrong and one right, or two sides of the same coin? Now let me be clear here when I say spirituality. I don’t use the word religion because that is just one form of spirituality. Anyone’s spiritual belief or faith doesn’t have to follow an organized religious sect of any kind, though most do. But back to my original point, why is it that most people feel that one rules out the other? Why is it that Creationists get so angry that Darwinism is taught in our public schools, and why do Darwinist idealists think that the notion of offering Creationism is so wrong as well? Do science and spirituality have to remain seperated? I guess the easiest way to understand the two is to look at what defines them, and then to look at what brings them together.

Science is often seen as a very analytical process reserved for dorky men and women in glasses and lab coats. Though that may sometimes be the case, it is usually far more interesting than most people think, and occasionally includes an attractive member of the human species. Let’s look at a quick run through of what defines science;

  • Science defines, explores, and measures the universe through theories and hypotheses, experimentation, results, and repetition.
  • Science can be seen as the pursuit of a quantifiable and logical understanding of the truth.
  • Science has a specific set of rules, laws, and guidelines.
  • Science requires the mind of a skeptic.

Spirituality, on the other hand, is usually seen as a form of mass organized religion. Men and women in various religious garments (dependent upon region). Strict tenets to adhere to, usually regarding moral codes. Rituals and practices concerning life, and what comes after death. Yet it isn’t always about an organized movement. Sometimes spirituality is just one’s personal faith in the way that things make sense to them. Let’s look at a few defining characteristics of generalized spirituality;

  • Spirituality explores existence through ritual, doctrine, tradition, and practice.
  • Spirituality can be seen as the pursuit of understanding existence on an emotion and moral level as well as logically.
  • Spirituality can have rules and guidelines that vary by religion, doctrine, and even person.
  • Spirituality requires faith and belief.

The bigger concept though, is what the two seem to share. A lot of people tend to bypass this portion of the debate, but it seems to me to be the most important piece. This list is much shorter, but the emphasis each point makes seems stronger. What science and spirituality seem to share is that they both;

  • Seek a higher understanding of the universe and existence, albeit using two different methods.
  • Attempt to assure us as humanity and conscious beings what our place is in the grand scope of everything.

The reason that I feel that the similarities are more important than the differences, even though they’re outnumbered is simply this; It seems to me that the differences describe the how of each process, while the similarities describe the what. As far as I’m concerned, they are just two different methods to achieve the same result. Almost every great mind of recorded history has agreed,including many scientists, philosophers, artists of various types, religious leaders, and yes, even the occasional politician. One path does not exclude or negate the other. Hence why I stress that everyone make their own path. Pick and choose what’s right from you. Find your spiritual beliefs, the ones that make sense to you. Then, try and set out to prove them or disprove them with science. That’s all the two are really for. We’re emotional and logical beings. Why only deal in half of humanity?

Two sides of the same coin? Maybe more like reflections.

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