Compatibility between Scientific Views and Religious Beliefs

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Compatibility between religious and scientific views is an issue of significance that has attracted the attention of many researchers. The progress of science and technology has created notable changes in the human behavior and the natural existence of the world. As a result, most religious leaders have perceived the scientific views as sources of threat to religious opinions (Platinga 43). However, there have been arguments discussed by Platinga (45) demonstrating that there is no big conflict between the religion and science and creating a notion of compatibility.

Platinga (305-307) has indicated that classical scientific views have upheld a healthy relationship with various religious concepts and opinions. In order to provide a precise evaluation of the compatibility, there is a need to understand what religious beliefs are. Platinga (42) defines religious belief as a faith in the supernatural, mythological, or spiritual reality with a theological foundation. Compatibility is explained by Fudenberg and He (1215) as the ability of two or more items to exist together without conflicts or problems. This study seeks to conduct an extensive review on the available pieces of literature to explore whether religious beliefs are actually compatible with the scientific ones, focusing on brain functionality and consciousness.

In reference to Churchland’s (27) hypothesis on the function of the brain, one can rightly argue that the scientific view is compatible with religious belief. The author in his argument states that from a scientific standpoint the brain is an extremely important organ that performs a lot of different functions and is responsible for controlling various aspects of life. Similarly, the religious beliefs, particularly within the Christian faith, consider that brain crucial body organ created by God (Churchland 29). Various confessions believe that the brain is a stunning organ of God’s creation that interprets and directs people’s thinking, sensation, evaluations, and reactions (Platinga 307). Reasonings from Churchland’s (22-25) review of the importance of the brain according to the scientists and the religious views on the organ make is quite clear that the two standpoints are compatible since they both consider the functions played by the brain in human beings to be exceptional.

Although Churchland’s presentation (22) indicates that scientific and religious views are compatible based on the brain functionality, a significant difference can be observed between the two in the sense that, contrary to religious beliefs which are based on non-practical opinions, scientific views are primarily based on experiments and proof as indicated by Churchland (24). The experiments, therefore, add more intensity to views. Churchland (28) explains that scientific opinions promote change since they make discoveries regarding some specific macro-phenomenon that cannot be clearly explained through religious beliefs. For instance, a scientific study on a single species can effectively offer a viable description of the functionality of a particular organ of the body (Churchland 28). What is more, scientific theories have the ability to provide an explicit explanation of the existence of different neurons and how they send and receive signals (Churchland 29). Therefore, based on the aforementioned information we can strongly argue that even though there is compatibility between scientific views and religious beliefs, it is measurable and can only be observed to a certain limit.

The compatibility between scientific views and religious beliefs can also be analyzed based on the term of consciousness. As Chalmers (200) describes, the aspect of consciousness is yet to be solved by science. The author argues that apart from the consciousness, the origins of which have not been discovered via experiments, other mental phenomena have positively yielded towards scientific investigations (Chalmers 200). The author demonstrates that consciousness is an intractable study problem that cannot be effectively explained. Some of the notions associated with consciousness which Chalmers (201) views as the unsolved problems in the field of science include the ability to categorize, discriminate, and to react to stimuli, as well as to integrate information through the cognitive system, to have an attention focus, and to differentiate between sleep and wakefulness. In a religious context, consciousness is an awareness of God and his ways. Contrary to Chalmers’ (202) efforts to explain the various elements forming consciousness, the religious views only tie the term to the knowledge of God.

The religious belief in consciousness does not give a detailed explanation of the term. However, there are some scientific theories stated by Chalmers (205) that strive to provide an understandable explanation on the various components of consciousness. One of the important theories highlighted by Chalmers (205) is the “Cognitive Theory of Consciousness” that states that consciousness contents are contained within a “global workplace”. Unlike the religious belief in consciousness, the scientific theory presented by Chalmers (207) addresses a variety of aspects related to human cognition. What is more, the theoretical model presents an elaborate explanation of the various contrasts in unconscious and conscious cognitive functioning (Chalmers 207). Therefore, based on Chalmers’ provisions and arguments, one can rightly argue that scientific views and religious beliefs are incompatible since the religious beliefs as described by Platinga (47) are primarily based on blind opinions that have not been subjected to any proof.

Similar to the religious arguments earlier mentioned, Nagel(435) argues that the intractable mind-body problem is made up of consciousness, and although it is difficult to understand, it makes the study of the mind-body problem much more interesting. Because religious beliefs state that consciousness revolves around the knowledge of God, Nagel (436) argues that the most essential characteristics of conscious mental phenomena are often presented poorly. This, hence, creates a gap between the religious beliefs and the scientific view of consciousness in relation to the mental functioning. As opposed to the religious beliefs which limit their opinions on consciousness only to human beings, scientific standpoint on the subject demonstrates that it is an extensive phenomenon that is also evident in various cases of animal life (Nagel 436). Nonetheless, the study clarifies that there is no scientific proof of the presence of the element of consciousness in a simple organism. Nagel (438) indicates that it is quite difficult to generalize the actual indicators of mindfulness in animals, although it does occur in other mammals apart from the humans. This argument is an illustration of the technicality of understanding the presence of consciousness in simple organisms.

Nagel’s (439) argument on consciousness is grounded on a subjective experience. The author states that an individual’s characters and behaviors are controlled by the experiences they have been subjected to (Nagel 439). Therefore, from the argument of the author, we can deduce that consciousness in an individual is majorly associated with past experiences. In a religious perspective, the fact that we are conscious beings makes our existence. Plantinga (312) argues that what religious beliefs are based upon are simply the images, thoughts, as well as the Godly feelings that arise from our consciousness. The bitter part of our religious-based belief from a scientific point of view is that there is no account providing an elaborate explanation of the existence of human consciousness. The disagreement between religious beliefs and scientific views of consciousness, therefore, creates a large gap between them, and thus makes them incompatible.

In conclusion, there are significant differences between the religious beliefs and the scientific views that make them to be incompatible. The studies conducted by Chalmers, Nagel and Churchland as discussed throughout the assignment have precisely demonstrated that the existing differences between the religion and the science are created by the ideologies and approaches to different phenomena which can be resolved to make them compatible. However, it should be noted that both the religious beliefs and scientific views can be true and effective as long as a distance is created between their domains of reasoning. As evident from the articles analyzed throughout this study, religious beliefs do not provide answers to how the beliefs came to existence, while the scientific views are primarily based on structural analysis of how various systems operate, thus limiting the compatibleness between the science and religion.

Cite this paper

Compatibility between Scientific Views and Religious Beliefs. (2021, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/compatibility-between-scientific-views-and-religious-beliefs/

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