Religion is the organization of thought, belief, practice and faith about beings that have superior powers to any force that we know. Alternatively, religion is the organized thought about facts of nature and life that we cannot explain and have no hope of explaining in our lifetimes.
Many realize that belief, faith and a life spent in thought about a higher power; some unknown and unseen force who has the power to change anything at any time, is assigning the role of ultimate leader, ultimate parent, and ultimate government to all who are human and to all of the planet. This is comforting, especially when there is human or natural turmoil and suffering that no human agency or entity is willing or able to resolve.
There have been challenges and attempts to obliterate religions that have come from many sources. The main challenges have come from competing religions, scientific communities, political movements and governments that do not want to assign power to any religious organization or group, and those who have suffered the most from the evils that have been done in the name of religions or gods.
Scientists do not always combat with religion as many religions revere science and many scientists are also religious. Most recently, but not uniquely or originally, Stephen Hawking is introducing the idea that God was not necessary for making the perfect place for life as we know it. He believes that there was no superior being involved in the complexity of life’s makeup and operation. These concepts reinforce insistence that the origins of life were from the natural organization of the universe and its contents.
This intellectual challenge to the presence of a superior being is not original thought. Scientists have been attempting to defend against or to supplant organized religion, to battle with churches that were out of for ultimate social control and power, and to explain things with fact instead of colorful myths and oral history.
Scott Brown’s bestseller, “Angels and Demons” is about that very concept, that science would become the new religion as it is superior to belief, myth and faith in explaining, understanding, controlling and using nature to human or individual benefit. The novel describes one particularly powerful organized religion that was a brutal and unfair force against science and scientists in the past, but ignores non European social, religious and governmental attacks that prehistoric and non European scientists faced throughout history.
And combat between establishing the ultimate science and the ultimate religion is one reason why religions will persist. As religions have never proven to be the ultimate saviors or managers of mankind, science has not done so, either. Of all of the man made destructive devices and substances that threaten all life on the planet, it was not religions that insisted upon inventing, developing and disseminating such destructive potential. Humans are well aware of this.
The most important reason why religion will continue to be an important factor in human life comes from the need to resolve the questions that neither science, deductive reasoning nor knowledge of fact can resolve. Another reason is that religion husbands and helps the very complex combination of human body, mind and spirit, a collection of phenomena that is a very long way from being understood by science.
Charismatic religious and scientific leaders, even if they are in family or personal relationships, will always be able to convince others to go with their beliefs. Scientists and religious leaders will always make mistakes, confusing logic and supposition with fact in making unproven claims.
There will always be future generations of humans who laugh heartily at the great scientific and religious ideas of today. Or they will be horrified at the human consequences of errors and misuse of both science and religion.
Perhaps science becomes religion that is based on convincing people to accept unproved logical explanations as fact. Religion is already religion that is based on convincing people to accept explanations for the unproved and unexplained as fact.
If both science and organized religion were to be completely eliminated right now, the bottom line is that humans would immediately begin to engage in one or the other as a system for explaining things, and many would accept a combination of the two as a perfectly fine way of explaining life, the world and nature. And many humans function quite well as both scientist and religious believer. Both will be around as long as humans are around.