Throughout the history, religion and science have seen a polarized relationship between them. There is always some friction between the two in almost all issues affecting humanity. Each of the group uses its side of the story to try to lure the humanity, but none of them get a hundred percent support. In olden days, religion, especially the church had an almost complete control on humanity. During this period, the only literate individuals were mostly the monks and priests. It made it easier to dismiss that scientists were challenging the religion. So, when did science intensively begin to challenge beliefs presented by the religion? Gradually, with time lapse, more serious scientific theories began posing challenges to the men of the cloth and this trend has continued to date. Religion has been doing its part in trying to respond to these challenges, but have achieved a mixture of results.
Challenges to religion came in forms of philosophical and theological but in the beginning, religious people found it easy to deal with the then few scientists and their ideas. The first real challenge came from a man named Galileo. Galileo was a scientist who had worked so hard to improve the telescope and observed the skies whenever he had the time. During his prime years, he coined the idea of heliocentricity from his observations. Before Galileo’s, since the Aristotle time, humanity believed that our world was at the center of the universe, and it was the most important part of it. Heliocentricity theory stated otherwise, calming the world was not special since it was just one of many like it revolving around the sun. Since that time, serious arguments were initiated between the church and Galileo.
In addition, Galileo faced many controversies in his lie at the time, even some of fellow astronomers did not side with him on the idea. These were not the greatest threat in his life though; the church was very much on his heels. During the days, religions and authorities worked very close, and this made the theory be put to intensive scrutiny by the Romans. Heliocentric was declared false and against the scriptures after the investigations. His book on the theory was banned and indexed as a forbidden book by the Romans while advocating other earlier theories as the correct ones. Galileo was not light hearted, and all the opposition did not deter him in advancing and defending his theory. He wrote another book that was directed at his challengers whom mainly consisted of the religious leaders. The church responded by trying him again and this time round; he was found to be a vehement suspect of heresy. On top of the being found guilty, he was forced to recant his theory, and he was ordered to spend the rest of his life serving a house arrest sentence. Through Galileo’s life, the church tried to restrict his scientific theories spread to people of the world, but they never deterred him in his works, which he continued while arrested.
Another scientist who came long after Galileo was Darwin and his theory of evolution. His theory articulated that humans evolved from apes contrary to the religious belief that God created them on the sixth day of creation. Darwin initially met much resistance from the religious people maintaining that the bible story was the true origin of humanity. Religious had tried to advocate the Genesis creation story and to call for non-seriousness in understanding evolution theory. The most challenging part on the part of the religious leaders is the fact that evolution theory has presented some evidence while the creation story has none. Due to this scenario, most Christians have taken a divided stand on the issue, but the bottom line remain they do not believe in it. Some responded by deciding to ignore it while others brushes it off as just a mere theory ignoring the fact that evidence have been provided.
Many religious leaders have dismissed the evidence presented by Darwin’s theory to date. Islam, for example, has decided to ignore the evidence, and little is known of it on any response to the theory. Some Christians, when presented with the fossils as confirmation, they responded by stating that God had placed the fossils there to test humanity faith. Other religious leaders claim that, as humans we are not in a position to know and believe in fossils since God doesn’t want us to know and if he wanted it would be in the scriptures.
Darwin and Galileo are some of the most notable beings ever to face the religious leaders head on, and have set the pace for most scientists who have come after them. Throughout history, from medicine to astronomy fields, the relationship between region and science has never been smooth. Mostly, no side manages to win in a landslide in any argument, and the responses remain divided even among the owners of an opinion. Nevertheless, some areas and field like medicine has seen the scientist and religious leaders take a common ground on some of its applications and theories. Astronomy too have seen an increased common ground with more evidences being ditched out by astronomers to challenges and prove ideas that only existed as theories. The bottom line remains that, religious leaders want to maintain the biggest share of humanity believing in the scriptures, but science is proving too hasty in the challenge. Evidence being produced to support theories by scientist is proving much a challenge to the religious leader who has no other evidence apart from referencing the scriptures.
- Adler, P. J., & Pouwels, R. L. (2012). World Civilizations (6th ed., Vol. II, Since 1500). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.