The topic of science and personal beliefs has very important meaning, it is related to the development and future of the country. Some scholars think that science is the basis of our nation because of its great effects on economics and development; other scholars think that due to excessive worship of science, people are losing their beliefs. The result is people will no longer have principles and self-discipline. Also, the abuse of science has led to serious environmental pollution.
The best solution for human is to integrate belief into science, and then science will have goal and restraint. For this purpose, people should regard beliefs important as science, because personal beliefs and science are good complements when they work together in modern society. For individuals, they should have personal beliefs because without beliefs they will lose significance and ambition of life. Having belief or not sometimes decides the goals of a person.
For this society, it must have its mainstream belief to lead many other beliefs. Having belief or not decides whether the society could develop healthily and peacefully or not. Without belief, a society will stagnate if its individuals don’t have goals. Belief is a traditional social phenomenon. From primitive belief such as worship to nature and totem worship, to complicated religious belief in civilized society, to science beliefs and superstitious beliefs, humans are always searching for the best shelter for their spirits, although people are absurd sometimes; otherwise, people may feel confused and empty in their heart. So, we need belief to create meaning in life.
Science has made huge developments since Industrial Revolution, and its impact is becoming greater and greater. To say the least, due to its power to influence, there is no other single thing in this world could be compared with science, which is changing this era so widely, lastingly and deeply. Science is penetrating into not just only every level of social lives and every industry, but also into the souls of every person in this world. Science is becoming the authority of this era and unique symbol of 21st century. It’s a social phenomenon and very useful because we could share it. Indeed, science is powerful.
But no matter how powerful science is, it is only effective in limited area and satisfy limited needs of people. Science could satisfy the acquisition of knowledge, but not pursuit of beauty and kindness, science could solve the material needs, but not mental needs; science is a useful tool for explaining and exploring the universe, but it doesn’t tell us what to do, how to live and what to feel. Science is not as a guide to ethics. Separating subject and object, which is the traditional scientific way to understand this world, probably is the most limit of science. Overly emphasizing separating ourselves from nature makes science become an automatic information executing process. In this process, science becomes a car without driver due to lack of human’s feeling and value. According to Feyerabend, “Let us follow their example and let us free society from the strangling hold of an ideologically petrified science just as our ancestors freed us from the strangling hold of the One True Religion!” (97).
As the author points out, petrified science without human interventor can be as terrible as killing religion in middle age. In other words, belief is so important to science that they are inseparable, as we live in a complex world, the more information we get, the more perspectives we could have, the better choices we will make. For a long period, people have a simple “either-or” argument about science and belief just like they live a cat and dog life. Meanwhile, Copernicus and Bruno’s examples are frequently used to support this argument. Indeed, science and belief were incompatible when religion was persecuting scientists in middle age.
However, several ages and examples only represent a specific kind of relationship from particular historical stages, but can not represent the whole relationship between science and belief. In this article, Angier implies the fact that science and belief are actually compatible, “Indeed, many are quick to point out that the Catholic Church has endorsed the theory of evolution and that it sees no conflict between a belief in God and the divinity of Jesus and the notion of evolution by natural selection. If the pope is buying it, the reason for most Americans’ resistance to evolution must have less to do with religion than with a lousy advertising campaign.” (149) “The astronomer Dave Rothstein replies that, in his opinion, ‘modern science leaves plenty of room for the existence of God… places where people who do believe in God can fit their beliefs in the scientific framework without creating any contradictions.” (149).
In Angier’s article, religion could make room for achievements in science; also science leaves room for the existence of God. If science and belief both are not immutable, they could be a very good complement for each other. Belief has three major impacts to science. First, belief is the origin of science. How do we decide what to research? Without some beliefs there would be no decision making. Second, belief is the motivation of science. Scientists are a group of people who have passion to chase the truth. In most cases they are not afraid of trouble just because they have their own belief. Third. Belief make science put into use rationally. Science is a method, not a purpose.
So, science has no value system itself. Only with belief leading science study, scientists can remember their social duty and prevent the abuse of science. Science and belief are the two most important powers that could influence human. To understand them impersonally, they are not alternative but complementary. As two most significant powers, they have distinctions: They have different objects and different effects on people. Science is rational and reality-oriented and it satisfies people’s material needs. Belief is idealistic, but it represents the good hope of people. It is the ultimate need of human. At the same time, science and belief are integrated.
At first, they are integrated at human’s nature. They satisfy people’s mental needs and material needs separately, both are expression of human’s nature. Secondly, belief and science promote each other. Belief gives science great mental motivation; science gives belief rational elements and make it purposeful. If people think highly of economic development and ignore the importance of belief, the result will be out of range of humanity and unpredictable. Science without belief is boring and bland; likewise, belief without science is superstitious and blind. Both of them have the same starting point and ending point, that is: For humans’ better future.
Lanza embraces this idea of multiple perspectives in science and belief: “We need a revolution in our understanding of science and of the world. Living in an age dominated by science, we have come more and more to believe in an objective, empirical reality and in the goal of reaching a complete understanding of that reality. But we’re fooling ourselves.” (142) As Lanza said, the science is changing, also world is changing. Science is not alone; beliefs make it have a soul. As the most promising group, we college students must have multiple perspectives and rational thinking, also avoid blindly relying on science. Only with these two equally important powers, we can achieve our goals in the right direction.