Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Science, Religion, and...Peace?

British Chemist Peter Atkins once said, "Science is almost totally incompatible with religion." While I do not doubt his expertise (the man literally wrote the book on Molecular Quantum Mechanics) I’m going to have to disagree with him on this one. Yes religion is based on beliefs unlike science which relies on hard facts, but what if the two ‘opposites’ had much more in common than we thought? And what if the similarities between them could be used to further our understanding of humanity and peace?

The first time I really sat down and thought about the relationship between science and religion was after watching Ron Howard’s commentary on the book-based movie “Angels and Demons.” He said “We are all just trying to understand the universe,” and he’s right. This longing to understand the universe is what made the 14th Dalai Lama vow that his spirituality and respect for science would never be at odds with each other. It is also the reason that Albert Einstein extensively studied the life of Gandhi, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time.

Our shared interest in understanding the universe can serve as a vital tool for promoting peace and acceptance. I recently watched a satellite interview of Pope Benedict XVI and the International Space Station crew. The Pope’s first question was “how can science affect peace?” The crew responded that when you understand how fragile and beautiful the planet is you have a new-found appreciation for all inhabitants of the earth. The Pope then acknowledged that scientific exploration is an adventure of the human spirit; one that instills hope and appreciation for all mankind.

Well my friends, you heard it from the Pope himself. Not only are science and religion compatible, but when used together they can create a powerful force that promotes peace and acceptance.


  1. god is not real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I am trying to poke holes into our Op-ed, but here are my observations.

    Gandhi was never a spiritual leader and also by the time the World knew who Gandhi was, Einstein was alive only for 8 years after that.

    I do understand that religion plays an important role in advancing humanity, however in my humble opinion Science has never been at odds with religion. In fact, I believe it is always the other way around. If there is anything that Science is at odds, it is with Science itself, which is really helpful because it forces us to rethink continuously and expand our understanding.

    Science is a completely different discipline and literally does not have anything to do with any religion in the world. Religion can offer a lot for us humble beings, but the reality is it is being more used as a tool to separate us rather than unite us. Once we get into giving religion any credibility, the next thing we fight about is about a specific religion's superiority over other religions. Science is exactly opposite. It has been more often used to unite us. Some of the greatest advancements in Science have come from world wide collaborative efforts.

    I am not going to argue the existence of god here, but just pointing out that no external intervention (god, angels and demons or whatever) is required in my experiments as an objective scientist. I am not trying to be arrogant here, but merely stating the facts as I know.

    In my opinion, Religion, whatever form it may be, was created to set a moral standard for humans to have a peaceful life. This I believe was the true intent of all religions when they were initially formed. If you look at some of the most popular and eastern religions, you can get this sense from every chapter. However, somewhere along the line, Humans (I am guessing someone equivalent to today's politicians) started to use it as tool to separate people from each other for their own agenda. This was the "beginning of the end" for religion and its true intent which I believe was peace.

    If anyone wants to keep religion to themselves and follow whatever faith suits them, I don't think we will have any issues with it. However, as soon as we start preaching about a specific religion's superiority or pitch one god against the other, I think it starts to loose its true meaning. Also, when someone mixes religion with science and tries to convey that they are at competition with one another, it just gets ridiculous

  3. I meant, I am NOT trying to poke holes into your Op_ED... Sorry for the typo!!


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