Is Religion and Science Mutually Exclusive? Religion and science both serve different purposes in the world, however their purpose produce the same goal depending on what one believes in. Christians believe that the world was created by God in seven days while scientists believe in the Big Bang Theory. Jane Goodall, known for her study of chimpanzees, expresses her belief that oneness with nature is best achieved through first hand observation in her essay, “In the Forest of Gombe. On the other hand, Barbara Kingsolver views science, especially Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, as the only answer to understanding the environment.
In her essay, “A Fist in the Eye of God,” Kingsolver examines the concept of genetic engineering and presents the reader with the dangers of this scientific concept. Goodall and Kingsolver both discuss nature, evolution, science and religion. Although they have different views about how nature came about, they both believe that the natural world should be left alone.
For Goodall a connection exists between science and religion yet Kingsolver feels that the theory of evolution should be taught to children instead of religion. Most often people believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive. Yet Jane Goodall found a way to connect the two. She was questioned by a bellhop about her beliefs, “I told him that I had always thought that the biblical description of God creating the world in seven days might well have been an attempt to explain evolution in a parable.
In that case, each of the days would have been several million years” (Goodall, 114). Being a scientist, Goodall believed that animals evolved overtime, yet she also believed that God existed and that possibly the theory of evolution and the biblical description of the creation of the world were just metaphors for one another. Many people would not think of combining the two concepts of religion and science yet Goodall’s explanation is convincing enough for the bellhop and many of the people that questioned her as well. However, Kingsolver approaches this idea a little bit differently.
Kingsolver views that religion and science should be separate but she discusses this concept with an educational approach. “Religion has no place in the science classroom, where it may abridge students’ opportunities to learn the methods, discoveries and explanatory hypotheses of science” (Kingsolver 212). Schools have opted to not teach the theory of evolution and children are only taught the religious aspect of how the world came about. With this, students are unprepared for the science that they will have to learn in their later years of education.
Kingsolver feels that religion is necessary for those men and women who practice science for a living simply because their beliefs can aid them when being questioned about certain experiments. Ultimately, Kingsolver and Goodall both feel that religion can be associated with science yet they both take different positions on religion’s role on science. Lessons learned from nature come from the passing on from generation to generation. Kingsolver begins her essay, describing her observations of a hummingbird that was building a nest outside her window.
Kingsolver believes that traits are passed down from generation to generation and no matter what happens, the population will move on. “But the population will live on, moving always in the direction of fitness, not because anyone has a master plan, but simply because survival carries fitness forward, and death doesn’t” (Kingsolver, 206). Kingsolver feels that it is not because of God’s “master plan” a population will live on but it is because traits need to be continued through generation. The more organisms that survive from any population, the better chance their traits have on carrying on.
When one dies, they take the acquired traits along with them and it can not be passed on, so the more organisms that die, there are less of them that survive and can not acquire many of their adapted traits. Goodall also feels that traits are passed on through young ones. “Chimpanzees are born, they grow older, they get sick, and they die. And always, there are the young ones to carry on the life of the species” (Goodall, 110). Goodall acknowledges the fact that the young chimpanzees acquire their traits from their parents, yet she also acknowledges the cycle of life.
Goodall realizes that in order for traits to be passed on death must occur or the young ones will not get the chance to share what they’ve learned plus their own new experiences as well. Both Kingsolver and Goodall accept the fact that the young generation needs to survive in order for a population’s lifestyle to be passed on. Science and religion have the same purposes for the people that believe in them, they both provide understanding. While both science and religion are normally never associated with one another, Goodall and Kingsolver both find a way to relate one another.
Goodall believes that the biblical description of the creation of the world is just a parable for the scientific theory of evolution. On the other hand, Kingsolver expresses her concern of the removal of the theory of evolution from textbooks and classrooms by saying that religion should not be taught simply because once the children reach the college level, they will be unprepared for the learning they will have to endure. However, Kingsolver continues on to say that religion should only be used by those who already study science to aid them when being questioned about whether or not they truly believe in the theory of evolution.
Goodall and Kingsolver discuss the cycle of life and survival of the fittest. These concepts are different yet both authors feel that the traits of the population will always be passed down to the younger generation. Frankly religion and science are both searching for things that are true. In the case of the creation of the world, both religion and science have two separate findings of the truth. Therefore how can they both represent the truth? Despite this question Goodall and Kingsolver relate both ideas together that represent each author’s own idea of how the world was created.
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Is Religion and Science Mutually Exclusive. (2018, Feb 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/is-religion-and-science-mutually-exclusive/