History of Ideas – Religion

Religion and Science have shared a complex relationship which has historically fluctuated between cooperation and conflict. Both disciplines arise from an intellectual desire to explain the natural world, but their paths have diverged over the nature of knowledge. Holmes Rolston III, a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University, sees their missions as complimentary, but different: “Science operates with the presumption that there are causes to things, Religion with the presumption that there are meanings to things.” Religion agrees that the world is intelligible and is capable of being logically understood. However, natural law alone provides only the beginning of illumination. Religion was an ingenious solution to many of mankind’s earliest fears and needs. The understanding gained through our senses is useful, but incomplete. Its full value is realized by imparting significance, or meaning to the phenomenon. Reality is subject to our conscious awareness; shaped by interpretation, as well as, by experience. Religion’s purpose is to supply the meanings for why things happen; to explain what is in order to evaluate what ought to be. Religion may seem irrational to many, but the needs remain.

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