Portrait artist: Micah Johnson
While outside the scope of comics, since this was posted by my fellow cartoonist (and also well within the confines of my own comic’s subjects), I thought I’d give it a reblog.
There is a reason that science and religion frequently butt heads, and it deals with the nature of understanding. From a sociological and historical standpoint, the primary function of a religion is to provide cultural cohesion, so some wonder why it would ever “need” to conflict with science. The issue only arises because religion achieves that cohesion through empirical claims (by this I mean claims about the nature of the world). Whether those claims are “a god created the world” or “the Earth is the center of the universe,” it doesn’t really matter, it’s all in a realm that it empirically testable. Science, while constructed to deal with a different end of the human experience, does overlap in this empirical realm, and so there arises a conflict.
While individuals can exhibit personal and cultural bias, science, as an institution, produces knowledge that is independent of any particular culture, and so potentially places itself at odds with anything that relies on empirical claims. If your worldview and personal values are tied to, say, the Sun being made mostly of iron, you’re not going to take kindly to evidence to the contrary.
This is why religion is at its core incompatible with the continued expanse of human knowledge (science). Understanding new things about the world, in the lens of religious thinking, is not required and is almost always limited in some way. Even the most progressive or benign religions ultimately place some limitation on “what we can know.” They have to, because every religion still has physical or metaphysical claims about existence. If they didn’t, they’d just be philosophies.
This is what Professor Dawkins is addressing, that what actually unifies all religion is that they all share some point where the furthering of understanding must end. And, for him (and many of us), this is unacceptable.