Religion or science? Viewed as a choice, science currently seems to be where people place their faith.
No matter whether you place more confidence in religion or science, the question “Why is science more popular than religion?” asked by Eric Nelson in his October 17 article, is worth consideration.
It is a question stemming from a comment made by award-winning radio host Krista Tippett noting the irony of science succeeding on the dissemination of ideas rooted in religion. Consider where you stand and why as you read the beginning of the article below but reserve judgement until you follow the link to read the whole article.
According to Krista Tippett, science is in the midst of a “renaissance.”
“Things like the Human Genome Project and the Hubble telescope, which brought amazing images of the galaxy into our living rooms, have contributed to our sense of awe,” said Tippett, creator and host of the “On Being” radio program, during an interview with Jenara Nerenberg. “We’re morphing to this place where science and scientists and scientific ideas are much more celebrated at the heart of our lives together, and everyone’s intrigued by them.”
Religion, on the other hand, appears to be in decline.
This is ironic, says Tippet, given that contemporary scientific exploration of things like awe and mystery and compassion – what Tippet singles out as “an urgent practical necessity” – is rooted in theology.
I suppose in some ways my own life mirrors this trend. Growing up I always thought that biblical teachings like the Golden Rule – “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” – were pretty compelling, if not downright awe-inspiring. Even better, the more I made an effort to put these teachings into practice – to be genuinely compassionate, grateful, forgiving, and so forth – the more natural they became and the better I felt.
It wasn’t until my late forties, however, that I became aware of the extraordinary and increasing scientific research being done linking such qualities of thought with improved health. These days, thousands of people are attending conferences around the world, listening to psychologists, medical researchers, neurosurgeons and neuroscientists echo much of the same advice I’ve been reading in the Bible for the last umpteen years.
How is it, then, that science and not religion appears to have won the popularity contest? How is it, for instance, that a pastor in church extolling the benefits of gratitude can’t seem to attract nearly as many people as someone saying essentially the same thing in a lecture hall at a major university?