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Why are tensions between science and religion so persistent? Why do rivalries between science and religion give rise to such strong emotional reactions?

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Introduction

Why are tensions between science and religion so persistent? Why do rivalries between science and religion give rise to such strong emotional reactions? From the beginning of time, man has been on an endless journey to discover its place in the world and to justify its existence in it. Religion has played a vital part in explaining the many mysteries of the universe. However, as the human race has grown and advanced itself, many ideas expressed by religion seem less and less plausible. Advances in science and technology have yielded a new breed of human thought that has disturbed and shaken the foundations of religious ideology. Both Darwin and Galileo have greatly contributed to this fragmentation of reason and human understanding. One of the first challenges brought forth by science was the "heliocentric model" of Copernicus versus the "geocentric model" of the church. The majority of people prior to the time of Galileo believed in geocentrism and the teachings of the church: that the earth was the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the earth. ...read more.

Middle

However, the church leaders were convinced that the scriptures teach that the earth is the center of the universe. When religious believers were forced to choose between God's revelation which teaches a geocentric view of the universe and Galileo's heliocentric hypothesis, the choice was obvious. Divine revelation must be given priority. The Church feared Galileo's discoveries would lead to a more secular, science-related world that depended less on faith and more on fact. Galileo showed that nature could be understood using reason, and was one of the first to do so. The advancements of scientific and philosophical knowledge, the Vatican thought, would result in a loss of their political power. Like Copernicus, Galileo's books were included in the Index of Forbidden Books in 1611. His work was a clear endorsement of the Copernican system. The Pope was called him before the Inquisition to stand trial for heresy. Galileo was tried in Rome in February 1633 and on June 16 was sentenced. On June 21 Galileo was read his sentence - guilty! He was ordered to recant and was sentenced to life imprisonment which was commuted to house arrest by the Pope. ...read more.

Conclusion

Darwin argued that human beings were like any other species. Therefore "making man part of the evolutionary stream" (Mayr, 1971, p225). Darwin proposed that we evolved from apes through a series of gradual steps. Even uniquely human attributes, he suggested, such as intelligence and emotion could come about through natural selection. On the other hand creationists believed that care, attention and detail have been put into the world, and that there is a reason for everything. Furthermore, "each new creation represented a further advance in the plan of the Creator" (Mayr, 1971, p224). Darwin found no evidence for someone guiding creation; he goes on to say "changes through adaptation and specialization by no means necessitated continuous betterment" (Mayr, 1971, p224). . Throughout history, there have been many conflicts between science and religion. While scientists like Galileo and Darwin embraces new ideas and examines the evidence to formulate understanding, Creationists take the bible then look for evidence to back up their beliefs. The outcome as we have seen results in a conflict between a "heliocentric model" of Copernicus versus the "geocentric model" of the church, but none of these disputes have impacted the ideas of society as much as the ideas of evolution versus creationism. Even today, the debate between evolution and creationism still lives on. ...read more.

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