Symbiosis of Science & Religion

I’ve spent some time recently reflecting on science and religion – both the overlap and the disconnect between the two. About a month ago or so, I stumbled upon an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book, Strength to Love, which prompted me to think about my own faith and its challenges. The passage discusses a symbiotic relationship between science and religion:

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.” 

Growing up I was raised in a household where there was absolutely no questioning the “rules” or opinions of the Catholic Church, you were just supposed to follow them – religion is the way, science is not. And it didn’t help that almost everyone I was constantly surrounded by in my conservative Catholic community carried a similar perspective.

As I progress through college, and my science background continues to deepen with my skepticism, I’ve found myself struggling as I try to frame my views with one or the other – either science or religion, but not both. With the introduction to new ideas and the constraints that come with living in a conservative environment removed, I’ve experienced countless frustrations and found myself overwhelmed with cluttered thoughts, attempting to make sense of the two. I’ve also encountered numerous other classmates and friends facing similar ordeals as well.

I think my upbringing caused me to believe I had to choose one or the other. When I came to U of M, the views I had formulated growing up were challenged by some peers who identified as atheists or agnostics and defended their views solely with science – science is the way, religion is not. In my opinion, however, I’ve come to realize that both have their limitations and one can’t fully deny the existence or operate without the other. In formulating new personal views and reevaluating existing ones, I currently rely on BOTH religion and science, which I feel is best summarized above by MLK’s explanation of the symbiosis of the two.

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