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By Tom McDonald
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Opinion: Battle between religion, science fought

 

Last updated 8/30/2022 at 4:43pm



In the Great American Culture Wars of our time, two different worldviews, science and religion, continue to do battle, even though it doesn’t have to be that way.

Science has reshaped our world in incredible ways. Digital technologies have come to dictate how we live our lives. Medical advancements are saving people from diseases and deformities that once killed off people by the thousands. And mathematics has turned our economy into a numbers game that doesn’t even require actual productivity to build wealth.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” goes the old saying, but really, invention has become the mother of necessity. Take, for example, the modern-day cellphone: We got along fine without it, until it was invented, now we can’t leave home without it.

Science did all that, and more — and yet it still must compete against religion for the hearts and minds of the American citizenry.

Polls show that most in the U.S. believe abortion should be legally available under certain reasonable restrictions, and yet the religious right has managed to completely strip away a woman’s right to choose in many states. The U.S. Constitution, the foundation for all our laws, never mentions God, and yet “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” was included on currency when the “culture war” was more of a Cold War against the “godless” Soviet Union.

And while the Constitution prohibits any sort of religious requirement to hold public office, declaring yourself an atheist would still spell defeat for candidates in just about every corner of our country.

Religion still holds plenty of sway over politics — even though religion itself is in decline.

You may remember a Gallup poll in 2020 that found, for the first time in American polling, less than half said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Back when “God” was added to the Pledge and our currency, 73% said they belonged to a religious institution, and that essentially held until the turn of the century. Since the year 2000, however, it’s been dropping rapidly, to only 47% in 2020.

And yet religion is still a driving force in politics — more so, it seems, than is science. Science has been warning us of a coming catastrophe for decades now, and yet the U.S. has chosen to either ignore or deny human-induced climate change despite the hard data that science has collected. Granted, most of the denial has been driven by disinformation, but let’s face it, religion has played a big role in it as well. I’d wager that climate-change deniers are more likely to believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God than they are to believe in a scientific approach to understand our existence in this world.

Of course, science and religion don’t have to be incompatible. You can believe in science and religion both.

Personally, I consider myself an agnostic believer in God — I think I’d be intellectually dishonest if I were to declare with 100% certainty that God exists, but I choose to believe in God anyway. It helps me, as I strive to be a better person, to believe in a loving God.

More than anything else, I think the schism between religion and science is at the heart of our culture wars.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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