By contributing writer Catherine Hochman. Originally published in KidSpirit's Science and Spirit issue.
Maybe religion is the result of our neurons firing chemical signals at one another. Maybe it is a mistake caused by natural selection. Or maybe it is the by-product of society's effort to impose authority. On the other hand, maybe not. Has science explained religion after all?
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) looked at religion from a sociological standpoint, i.e., through the interactions of social groups....
Richard Dawkins (born 1941) is a biologist who, in his book The God Delusion (2006), tries to explain religion in terms of Darwin's theory of evolution. He concludes that religion was a mistake caused by natural selection
Matthew Alper explains religion as being neurological. In his book The God Part of the Brain (1996), he shows how genes influence our religious experiences. He also gives accounts of many scientific studies which suggest that activities such as meditation, yoga, or prayer evoke sensations, which, although perceived as evidence of the divine or sacred, are actually the ways in which our brain interprets neurochemical processes.
Although Durkheim, Dawkins, and Alper's explanations are all incomplete, together, they only cover three perspectives of approaching religion in its entirety. Finally, I ask: Will, or can, science ever explain religion?
See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.
...and incidentally, the author was only 14 y/o when she penned this article...
So, CAN science explain religion? From The Urantia Book:
65:4.3 Many features of human life afford abundant evidence that the phenomenon of mortal existence was intelligently planned, that organic evolution is not a mere cosmic accident. When a living cell is injured, it possesses the ability to elaborate certain chemical substances which are empowered so to stimulate and activate the neighboring normal cells that they immediately begin the secretion of certain substances which facilitate healing processes in the wound; and at the same time these normal and uninjured cells begin to proliferate—they actually start to work creating new cells to replace any fellow cells which may have been destroyed by the accident.
12:9.3 Mathematics, material science, is indispensable to the intelligent discussion of the material aspects of the universe, but such knowledge is not necessarily a part of the higher realization of truth or of the personal appreciation of spiritual realities. Not only in the realms of life but even in the world of physical energy, the sum of two or more things is very often something more than, or something different from, the predictable additive consequences of such unions. The entire science of mathematics, the whole domain of philosophy, the highest physics or chemistry, could not predict or know that the union of two gaseous hydrogen atoms with one gaseous oxygen atom would result in a new and qualitatively superadditive substance—liquid water. The understanding knowledge of this one physiochemical phenomenon should have prevented the development of materialistic philosophy and mechanistic cosmology.
2:6.1 In the physical universe we may see the divine beauty, in the intellectual world we may discern eternal truth, but the goodness of God is found only in the spiritual world of personal religious experience. In its true essence, religion is a faith-trust in the goodness of God. God could be great and absolute, somehow even intelligent and personal, in philosophy, but in religion God must also be moral; he must be good. Man might fear a great God, but he trusts and loves only a good God. This goodness of God is a part of the personality of God, and its full revelation appears only in the personal religious experience of the believing sons of God.