Religion is not compatible with Science

How many times have you heard the saying, “Science is man’s attempt to understand God’s creation” or “Science is the study of God’s work”?  It begs the question, what is meant by this one word science?  How would you define science?  When common people hear the word science they probably think of cool technology.  When science comes on the news it’s all about the new awesome gadgets, or perhaps a new medicine, or a new invention of some sort.  This is misguiding, and it distracts us from what science really is.  Science is a discipline of study based upon empirical findings, applying scientific principles and techniques, most importantly, following the scientific method, which goes somewhat like this:

Science does not rule out the possibility of a supernatural; it in fact does not deal with the supernatural because supernatural things are not scientifically testable.  Every religion invokes the supernatural, even Buddhism – otherwise, it would be a mere philosophy (Buddhism seems to waver between the two).  But because the supernatural cannot be tested with the scientific method, whatever is done in religions can only be pseudoscience.  This simply means that religion can never be truly scientific.

That statement seems to give the religious some sort of reassurance, for whatever science says, they can simply ignore it, because science deals with the natural, not the supernatural – therefore they are compatible.  Nature is a closed system in which we exist, therefore we could in fact be living in God’s simulation game, for all we know. 

Mario of course does not know that he is in a mere simulation.  To him, the simulation is the world, fixed by mathematical equations and so forth.  Mario does not know that there is actually someone looking at his every move, ie. a god.  What Mario knows is only the natural world around him, the world in which he lives. 

The Mario analogy comes at a grand price. If we are in fact living in someone’s simulation game, does that someone live in another simulation himself?  Is there an endless hierarchy of simulations?  It seems in our world that everything has a cause and effect, but do we have reason to believe that this is true in every simulation?

I do not have the answer to the above question – my conjecture would be yes, that in every level of simulation there has to still be cause and effect, and because of this I am an atheist, and to me a supernatural being is the irreducible complexity.  But this is mere speculation and one can feel free to argue, in fact, it is the Christian’s favourite contention that “God does not need to be created”.  However, I believe two mutually exclusive conclusions can be drawn from all of this.  One: science and religion are indeed compatible, because science deals with the natural whereas religion deals with the supernatural.  Two: science and religion are not compatible, because they can never co-exist.  Religion can never claim to be scientific, because it is by definition not science.  This is the point I should like to make.

I will make this point by re-quoting: “Science is man’s attempt to understand God’s creation”.  This statement seems to make science and religion sound compatible, but in fact, it does the very opposite.  The statement alone is unscientific, because it invoked the supernatural without empirical evidence, which itself is against the discipline of science.  I have seen a lot of writers approach this matter rather superficially, claiming that many scientists are religious, therefore the two must be compatible.  A scientist is not science – a scientist is a person who does science.

It is, admittedly, the primary reason why I pick on the creationists, because their religiosity and ignorance is pretty obvious.  It is indeed what religion promotes: an ignorance in science.  Because to religion, science doesn’t really matter.  Science deals with the natural, and science deals with testable explanations.  Religion operates from a different standpoint altogether.  Almost every holy text makes certain supernatural promises, and certain gods like the Judeo-Christian one “cannot be tested”.

The problem with religion is that its truth is subjective.  In science, truth is objective (in fact, to be fair, nothing is considered to be ‘truth’ in science), and is obtained empirically, by means of the scientific method.  Religion is culturally and geographically-based – in America, Yahweh is god; in Afghanistan, Allah is god; on the Internet, the Ceiling Cat is god, etc.  Science, on the other hand, is the same throughout the world (surely there are always scientists who don’t agree on some things, but this is due to a paucity of evidence – and as with evolution, when the hypothesis becomes so supported by evidence, it becomes a theory; it becomes like an objective truth).  It is the nature of science to make testable claims.  Much to the contrary, it is the nature of religion to form hypotheses which can never be tested.