The tension between the religious and scientific communities continues to increase and that tension has manifested itself in a variety of overt, but also subtle ways. While it may not be immediately apparent by the rhetorical emanating from their leadership over the last century, the religious and scientific communities have far more in common than we are made to believe. Both communities have stated goals to seek and find truth, and both have fundamental flaws bought on by their prejudice which impeded their goals. Sadly, it sees as though both sides believe they are in conflict with one another and, of even more significance, they believe they must defeat the other for its survival.
These communities are no different than any other organization and their behavior is actually classic organizational behavior. As organizations and communities become prosperous, they often succumb to the temptation to forget their original purpose and their focus shifts to protecting the existence of the organization at all cost. Also, indicative of a trait common to organizations, the members of religious and scientific communities do not feel nearly at odds with one another as their leadership seems to feel. Is this tension necessary? Has it been ever present? Have these two communities ever been in harmony?
There was a brief period of time in which science and religion were in harmony. The time period just happens to coincide with the end of a dark time in history and the emergence of a new country which is clearly stated as its purpose – to provide a sovereign place in which individuals are free to live and pursue happiness. The assumption of that purpose is that individuals who find truth will be happy as they are blessed with the knowledge of truth.
An interesting irony of that assumption is that it must first be assumed that there is an absolute truth to be found and that the truth exists beyond human input. In short, it asserts that mankind is not the completion of the evolution of life. Moreover, it assures that mankind is merely a significant player, and that something or someone much bigger than us (let's call that truth) requires discovery. The brief alliance of science and religion coincided with the establishment of the United States of America and all three factions of human civilization (government, science, and religion) aligned under a single philosophy – that when people are left free, they seek to govern themselves honorably and seek to discover truth about this natural world and any supernatural world. They were aligned in the philosophy that there existed good and evil; and science, religion, and government were equally capable of both.
It can not be overstated that the environment which led to this unique period of history, one in which science, religion, and government seemed to be in perfect fashion with one another, was not an accident. It was by design. One thing the founding fathers understood well was the purpose of organizations, and, by extension, their limits. It is often stated that there exists a founding philosophy of "separation of church and state." To this day we hear those words used to deny the teaching of creation in public schools. What is often misunderstood is not that the foundation leaders of our country thought to force a separation of these entities, but rather that there was already a natural separation of them.
Contemporary politicians must understand their natural roles in a civilized society and never seek to wield power and authority beyond their functions. Religion – as a loosely defined organization – had one primary function – to govern the relationship between man and his Creator. Science, too, had one primary function: to describe the relationship between man and creation. Thusly, government served one purpose – to govern the relations between men.
Our founders were strictly concluding their conclusion based on observing historical fact: Government should never be used to compel men of a certain relationship with the Creator. Furthermore, government should also never be used to compel men of a certain relationship with creation (nature). It should not surprise us that the more our government is corrupt, the more it grows in power and authority; the more it chooses to force or break relationships between man and God, or man and nature, the more powerful it becomes in all aspects of our lives. That's when we will see a growing conflict between science and religion. Because our government has forgotten its role, because our government has usurped authority that it was not given by our Creator or our founders, it is the government that is the cause of disharmony.
Because the government has grown too big and too powerful, both science and religion feel they must influence the power so as not to become extinguished.
If, though, scientific and religious communities ever hope to be allied again, they must first understand that they are not guilty of anything. It was not they which first bought to expand beyond their natural roles; it was their government (which once promised freedom to pursue truth and happiness) that has corrupted itself. It did so, by convincing itself that it should seek to control what was rightfully within the roles of science and religion. Restoring the entities to their proper roles is essential for our nation's prosperity to return.