Definitions of (and statements about) “Science” and “Religion”


John W. Burgeson                          E-mail                     Web site



What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to govern? … Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, it cannot answer the question: Why does the universe bother to exist? – Stephen Hawking, The Hand of God, p. 72.



"I want to know how God created this world.  I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element.  I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details."   ---Albert Einstein (Clarck, 1971, p. 18-19)


There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.

 -- Einstein


Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbrued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding.  this source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. Einstein, 1941, quoted in Teaching Science in an Age of Controversy, ASA, 1986.



If faith has meaning, it can’t be off in one part of you. It has to be integrated. I think my faith adds to the experience of being a scientist in the way that discovering something has more meaning, sort of glimpsing the mind of God. – Francis Collins, geneticist, Inside the Mind of God, p. 26.



There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe … The impression of design is overwhelming. – Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint.


My commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. Sir Fred Doyle, Inside the Mind of God, p. 69.



I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe, as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.  – Wernher Von Braun, The Hand of God, p. 128.



The psychiatrist Dr. M. S. Peck, contrasting science and theology, describes scientists as reductionistic, left brained, analytical, biting off tiny pieces one at a time for examination; theologians as integrative, right brained, their appetite as large as God. "The fact that God is invariably larger than their digestion does not deter them in the least,” he says. – source unknown



The Science/Religion Relationship


  1. Coincidence with conflict.


    1.       Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, David Hume, Isaac Asimov, Massimo Pigliucci, …
    2.       Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis


  1. Separation with harmony


Stephen Jay Gould, Descartes, Plato, Bultmann, Tillich, Einstein


  1. Coincidence with harmony


Alfred North Whitehead, David Ray Griffin, Sallie McFague,  John Wheeler


  1. Dialog


Ian Barbour, Arthur Peacocke


“Science is the … search for accurate laws and reproducible phenomena in the immanent, while religion …  deals with phenomenon in the transcendent...These two existing spheres must be separated in order to be understood... The overlapping … is the tragic reason for confusion….” Antonino Zichichi RESEARCH NEWS, 11/2002, page 3.


God is a mathematician. – James Jeans, ~ 1930


Science is wonderfully equipped to answer the question “How?” but it gets terribly confused when you ask the question “Why?”  -- Erwin Chargaff, Inside the Mind of God, p. 68


Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world. -- Schopenhauer. The Hand of God, p. 135


By refusing to cry “miracle” in the face of mystery, science has brought the world fantastic dividends. -Michael Ruse


To attribute divine causes when naturalistic causation theories might be just over the horizon is dubious theology. Faith should rest on something more profound than ignorance. Sharon Begley, Inside the Mind of God, p. 18.


Knowledge – proud to have learned so much. Wisdom – humble to know no more. – Cowper


There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of one who believes that every event in the universe can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event.  -- R. Jastrow, Reader’s Digest, 7/80, pp. 49-53.


"Two suppositions only are open to us; the one that the feeling which responds to religious ideas resulted … from an act of special creation; the other that it … arose by a process of evolution. If we adopt the first of these alternatives, universally accepted by our ancestors and by the immense majority of our contemporaries, the matter is at once settled: man is directly endowed with the religious feeling by a creator; and to that creator it designedly responds. If we adopt the second alternative, then we are met by the questions -- What are the circumstances to which the genesis of the religious feeling is due?"     --- Spencer (First Principles)


I have shown men the glory of your works, as much of their unending wealth as my feeble intellect was able to grasp. – Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630


I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. -- Isaac Newton, 1643-1727


"We should be careful in giving interpretations of Scripture that contradict science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers."  -  Augustine, 5th century A.D.


Goethe: Doubt grows with increasing knowledge.

Pascal: The last function of reason is to recognize that there exists infinitude of things that surpass it.

Unamundo: The supreme triumph of reason is to cast doubt on its own validity.

Wilkinson: I used to think I was indecisive but now I’m not so sure.

Burgeson: I think, therefore I am, I think.

Valery: Sometimes I think, and sometimes I am.


Add lastly the further religious aspect of science, that it alone can give us true conceptions of ourselves and our relation the mysteries of existence. At the same time it shows us all that can be known, it shows us the limits beyond which we can know nothing. Not by dogmatic assertion, does it teach the impossibility of comprehending the Ultimate cause of things; but it leads us clearly to recognise this impossibility by bringing us in every direction to boundaries we cannot cross. It realises to us in a way which nothing else can, the littleness of human intelligence in the face of that which transcends human intelligence. While towards the traditions and authorities of men its attitude may be proud, before the impenetrable veil which hides the Absolute its attitude is humble- a true pride and a true

humility. Only the sincere and genuine man of science, we say, can truly know how utterly beyond, not only human knowledge but human conception, is the Universal Power of which Nature, and Life, and Thought are manifestations.  -- Spencer


Science limits itself to treating the world as an object, an "it” which can be manipulated and put to the experimental test.  Religion is concerned with personal encounter with that reality which can only be treated as a "thou." In the realm of the personal, testing has to give way to trusting.  – author unknown


Religion is concerned with the search for motivated belief. Faith does not involve shutting one's eyes and believing impossible things because some unquestionable authority tells one to do so. It is the quest for an understanding of human  experience rooted in worship, hope, and the history of holiness  represented by the great religious figures of world history. – author unknown


Science proves nothing. On most vital questions, it does not even produce evidence. - Vannever Bush, 1965.


Miracle: The natural law of a unique event. -- Rosenstock.     I know of nothing else but miracles. – Walt Whitman