Science as Religion, Wishful Thinking?

My friend relayed some comedian’s joke to me about how a man meets his wife. The joke was, “I went to a dating site, put in ‘Jewish’ and my zip code.” So much for the mystery of romance! But it got me thinking about how complicated society has become, and whether or not love is so transparent. Durkheim, being concerned with religion’s roots in society, would probably think this to be a novel way for people to connect. After all, religion is the means by which people interpret what is sacred and profane. What else could you ask for in a partner but to have similar feelings about the world around us? http://www.sawyouatsinai.com/jewish-dating-articles-7.htm This unscientific yet thought-provoking article reinforces this point.

Perhaps if you are not religious, you believe that love is not so simple. But if you’re not religious, then aren’t you probably going to look for an atheist or agnostic partner? If you think that society doesn’t need religion, or at least, that YOU don’t need religion, I would think it’d make it hard to stay with somebody who believes that heaven and hell are real and that Jesus is the only path to Truth. When you think about personality traits and preferences, it’s hard to think of a feature more fundamental to the health of a relationship than faith.

As society advances, I believe that religion’s function of condoning or prohibiting certain behaviors will only become more influential. The most educated among us will tap into all the newest knowledge and technology that the 21st century has to offer, while the least educated will be less altered by the wonders of the modern day. Religion will likely continue to exist to help people decide how they should feel about a changing world that they don’t fully understand. I don’t think science will ever replace religion as long as society is growing in complexity.


Dr. Nigel Barber challenges this point by explaining how, historically, religion helped us cope with problems of scarcity and preventable disease. He believes that these sources of anxiety that used to drive humans to look for God are less present now, making religion’s recent decline in popularity a sign of its inevitable demise. But new problems will always be presenting themselves, and I doubt humanity will ever believe itself capable of handling these problems on its own. If a high standard of living eliminates a need for religion, as Nigel Barber claims, why are wealthy and famous still plagued with emotional problems that lead them to cults like Scientology? Even though the scientific data on improving one’s mental health EXISTS, the ability to understand and apply it may not rest in the minds of chronically unhappy people.

Those with religious convictions are sometimes viewed as naive. However, if two people can share faith, they may have an easier time sharing their lives together. The unanswerable questions that religion wrestles with cannot be fully understood by anyone, so to claim superiority over those with faith is much more naïve than having it. As we now understand in this class, even scientific inquiry requires one to make assumptions that we cannot be sure of. To wrap our heads around mysteries like love, death, or human purpose, our mind must abbreviate facts by forming assumptions until those assumptions are proven to be untrue or unhelpful. So, while Durkheim believed that science would one day replace religion, I do not. People don’t even trust themselves to locate a suitable mate on their own without the assistance of a supernatural power, and that is precisely what nature has equipped them to do! I think that is the point of this post: Our minds are not naturally wired to be 100% scientific. To perpetually juggle all the facts of life within the framework of scientific inquiry..perhaps certain minds can achieve this, but I do not believe society ever will.


4 thoughts on “Science as Religion, Wishful Thinking?

  1. Holly B. says:

    Wow, very eloquently put! I totally agree with you. Many people need something to fall back on for strength and support when times are tough and religion has filled that role for a really long time. It is also a great way for people to connect with one another in society. Moberg wrote about Durkheim trying to explain cohesion among society when “religious and ethnic identity among all of society’s members could no longer be assumed” (pg. 87). My first thought about this was that he was referring to the fact that so many different people from different backgrounds would be living together that there wouldn’t be a singular common religion among them all. Either way, I think your argument applies because no matter what the situation, people are going to use religion as common ground in order to stick together and understand their current surroundings.

  2. I agree with you although there are people who are not religious there are allot of people who do and it is a strong force that helps them in their lives. I also do not see people replacing religion with science and it shouldn’t be.

  3. Tom Montemurro says:

    i too like this blog and especially liked the part that even though people may be different having a commonality like religion and form a bond. Religion has been around for quite some time and although science is progressing and making new discoveries everyday, religion is still rooted in our societies.

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