science vs religion


So I’ve been sitting on this rant for a while and finally came around to having the energy to actually sit down and write it.

People like to hold up science as Perfection.  As a bastion of truth and the only defense against all those silly, superstitious, religious kooks who believe in a fictional old wizard in the sky.  That people who worship at the altar of science are the most (or only) rational human beings.

Well.  Bullshit.

While science itself tells us so much about the universe we live in, while science never lies to us (though it often seems to contradict itself in ways we don’t fully understand yet); the people involved?  Not so much.

Here’s the thing: The people who study science are no more or less flawed than the people who follow religion.

There are sane and rational people in the religious community.  Like, for example, Reverend Phil Snider whose speech about LGBTQ rights at a city council meeting has been making the rounds on Tumblr lately.  Hell, there’s an entire website dedicated to helping queer Christians find LGBTQ-friendly churches.  There’s a group called Muslims for Progressive Values who’ve been gaining traction in the Muslim community with an eye on reevaluating homophobic and sexist traditions.  There’s a Jewish congregation based out of New York City whose entire mission statement basically begins and ends with LGBTQ inclusiveness and celebrating diversity.

Trufax: The Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t speak for anyone but the Westboro Baptist Church.

But just like there are sane and rational religious people, there are also moronic assholes in the scientific community, that includes both professionals and people who just like to hold it up as a bastion of truth and honor and no nonsense or corruption ever.

They like to decry religion for committing horrible crimes against humanity.

While anyone whose taken a Psychology 101 class knows that experiments as recent as the 1970s are the reason professional ethics laws were put into place.

They like to call out religion for using God and the Bible as an excuse for horrifying acts on undeserving people.

While ignoring movements like eugenics which uses the excuse of genetics to remove “unwanted” elements from a population which has been used against minorities and the “emotionally disturbed,” poor, epileptic, and “feeble-minded” as recently as the 1960’s and ‘70s.

People are blamed for using religion as an excuse for their prejudices.

When genetics has historically and still to this day been used as an excuse for racism.  When deinstitutionalization of insane asylums in the US due to widespread overpopulation and abuse (ranging from wrongful institutionalization, neglect, to what amounts to physical and/or mental torture) didn’t start until the 1960’s and, due to resistance from the psychological community, stretched into the 1990’s.  When, to this day, people are still fighting against ableism that assumes that people with disabilities or mental disorders are somehow less valuable as human beings.

People love to call out religious people worldwide for deliberately misinterpreting holy texts or ignoring large parts of it for their own personal benefit or to defend their own problematic views.

But then you have people like Dr. Andrew Wakefield who deliberately skewed and falsified scientific data to show that the MMR vaccine caused autism in children while allegedly developing a rival vaccination.  Or the weight loss industry who deliberately ignores either large parts or entire scientific studies that have been conducted since the 1950’s that prove the entire industry is ineffective.

They love to declare how uneducated religious people are regarding their own holy texts.

And then they turn around and see a story with SCIENCE! in the headline and take it at face value without looking at the research themselves because IT’S SCIENCE SO IT MUST BE TRUE!

Because scientists have never lied about their data.  Because scientists have never ignored their own ethical standards.  Because scientists have never taken a scientific process and wrongly applied it to something completely unrelated.  Because scientists have never discovered that previously scientifically proven facts were wrong.

Now my point isn’t that science is wrong and terrible and religious people are all upright, well-rounded citizens of the world who never ever lie.

I, myself, find chemistry, biology, and anatomy fascinating.  I’m also a self-identified Catholic, despite being a queer feminist, and I also fully admit to having a long, celebrated history of lying (but not about that).

My point is that maybe all of these terrible things that we blame solely on religion aren’t actually religion’s fault.  Maybe science vs. religion isn’t the problem.

Maybe the problem is just ignorant assholes.

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
—  Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Tell a fundamentalist Christian that a white bearded man sits in the sky, created the universe in 6 days, sent himself as his own son, crucified himself, came back from the dead, ascended to heaven to watch and judge the people of Earth and they swallow every bit of it. 

Tell them that single-celled organisms ultimately changed and adapted to evolve into multi-cellular organisms of today and they want proof.