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Religion and Science

Religion and Science

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the old-age dispute between science and religion. The issue of religion has received considerable critical attention, especially after reconsidering the historical reality. Science, on the other hand, in its broad meaning positions itself as a concept at the heart of people’s understanding of the basic processes and cause-effect relations within the objective reality. Therefore, relations between science and religion have nowadays become one of the most significant current discussions in legal and moral philosophy. Science is commonly referred to as objective, universal, rational, and based on evidence. Religion is regarded as subjective, limited, emotional, and based on varying traditions. Science and religion position themselves as two different domains. They are claimed to use contrasting methods of cognition and, therefore, different expressive means, as well as the means for communicating their ideas among people. In this respect, investigating the issue of relations between religion and science becomes the matter of mode of thinking. Another important point to make is that both science and religion should be balanced for the sake of harmony in all its senses.  

Albert Einstein, in his article “Religion and Science”, published first in the New York Times Magazine on November 9th, 1930, claims that assuagement of pain, satisfaction of needs, aspirations, and passions are the driving forces for human development and activity. Reflecting upon the sources and beginnings of religion, Albert Einstein addresses the issues nowadays commonly referred to as the initial consciousness, which presupposes the explanation of the phenomena from the points of fear and unfamiliarity with the surroundings and environment that occasionally boarders on the effect of estrangement. To put it in more simple words, the scientist reflects upon the issue of what are the causes and origins of religious thought and belief. Considering the issues of religious origin and therefore its evolution, emotions prove to fail their dominance over these issues. However, fear, as one of most powerful emotions, is claimed to provoke religious concepts.

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With this respect, it is possible to assume that among the others, people were and still are prone to fear the unknown and obscure. Consequently, this caused the new social class to emerge – a priestly cast, the mediators who enabled ‘communication’ between the people and the creatures they feared and worshiped. Thus, meditating basically upon the origin of class society, Albert Einstein mentions the issues of hegemony, i.e. leadership or predominance, privileged position of those, whose authority is secular and the right to rule the others is regarded divine. These prove the social nature of religion to a certain extent, as Albert Einstein claims that particular reason for the religion to emerge was the so-called social impulse. Human beings are mortal and imperfect. The need of guidance, love, and support activate the processes of cognition of God of Providence, who defends, punishes, pities, and rewards, the God who sympathizes with all living beings.

Albert Einstein admits the transition from what he refers to as the religion of fear to that of morale, the so-called moral religion; this process can be traced in the evolution of thought through the Old to the New Testament. Albert Einstein addresses the Oriental people as such, who practice primarily moral religions. However, it is important to be unbiased and aware of the fact that referring to the religions of the civilized world as the moral ones, and the primitive ones as the religions of fear should be treated as a prejudice.

What makes a common ground for all the religious doctrines is the anthropomorphic nature of perception of God. The scientist admits different rate, i.e. degree, of perceptivity and awareness, completeness of people’s image of the divine force. In this respect, the philosopher introduces the notion of cosmic religious feeling. According to Albert Einstein, the cosmic religious feeling literary means “a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them [people]”. Hence, Albert Einstein admits that the notion of cosmic religious feeling dates back to the ancient times, particularly, to Psalms of David and the Prophets. In the Oriental world, the concept of the cosmic religious feeling is more widely used, especially in Buddhism. In this respect, the issue of author’s conception of a human being arises. The scientist is precise, specific, and laconic about it. The ideal of individual, according to Albert Einstein, is the person who wants to “experience the Universe as a single significant whole.”

Another important point to make concerns Albert Einstein’s perception and understanding of science. Thus, in his article “Religion and Science”, Albert Einstein, attempting to answer the question of how one can develop and communicate the cosmic religious feeling to others, makes another statement that goes as follows: art and science, presumably, should be aimed at “awaking” and “keeping alive” the cosmic religious feeling within a person who is “receptive” to these influences, especially in case when cosmic religious feeling gives neither the notion of God, nor understanding of theology.

Considering the issue of relations between science and religion, Albert Einstein arrives at conclusion that goes as following: historical approach presupposes negative perception of religion, thus addressing science and religion as antagonistic elements. The reasons for this are obvious, according to Albert Einstein’s claim. Moreover, a person who is commonly referred to as atheist is deliberately ignorant of any supernatural force and rejects it, feels no need in patronage and protection on part of force of that kind.

Considering the issue of science in particular, in the following excerpt the scientist comments:

Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death.

Albert Einstein is regarded a scientists, whose contribution to understanding nature remains unparalleled until nowadays. Einstein’s researches were ground-braking. Albert Einstein is the example of the scientist and philosopher, led by the rational mode of thinking, logics, and religious beliefs through all of his lifetime. Albert Einstein succeeded to combine harmoniously the concepts and doctrines that are commonly referred to as diametrically opposed, and the positions that cancel each other. This experience is interesting and important with respect to status of both science and religion nowadays.

The ages of dominance of Church brought irreparable harm to the evolution of humankind. This caused lasting stagnation of science since the thought was controlled by the clerical censorship; any act of dissent was treated as intolerable and immediately put down with the use of violence. The nature of dominance of Church within the Eastern Orthodoxy nowadays is apparently different from that of the Medieval Catholic Church, but there is no denying the fact that these tendencies are noticeable. Countries once being the leaders in the area of outer space exploration are nowadays stagnating scientifically.

Rejection of and opposition to progress, development, and alternative opinion are the markers of clerical censorship. In this respect, it is important to be aware of the fact that this way leads only to the confusion of such concepts as Religion (institution, ruled by someone) and Belief (something that reveals the human nature, representing his or her inner world and determining it), and, consequently, the ambiguity of the notions ‘Church’ (the domain of Religion) and ‘Temple’ (a sacred place one always seeks to find in the hour of need, great pain or grief, a place where one can always find help under the circumstances).

One the other hand, another noticeable tendency deals with the negative impact of science and is as following: people are supplied by all possible sorts of gadgets, and the world is becoming more and more dehumanized and mechanized. This is another extreme, opposed to the dominance of religion. The scale of the catastrophe caused by social cataclysms within the framework of religion, or loss of control within the framework of science cannot be underestimated in both cases respectively.

The correlation of science and religion, taking into consideration the current events and the state of things, has to do with the issue of safety. Safety, in its turn, is a concept that implies the life in future considering all its possible forms, representations and manifestations. There is an option to solve this issue that goes as following: people representing different modes of thinking and different ideas should elaborate the principles of harmonious, peaceful coexistence and effective cooperation with each other for the sake of augmenting the beauty and facilitating the progress.