The difference between science and religion is in the method each uses to discuss the world. Although both rely on first principles which must be assumed, religion and science build on these using completely different criteria.

For example, a scientific theory must be refutable; there must be some hypothetical experimental or observational result which, if found, would disprove some or all of the theory. There are many other criteria that scientific theories must meet in order to follow the scientific method.

This does not mean that religion is wrong or necessarily should compete with science. These can be complementary ways of looking at the world. Religious myths are metaphors which teach us about a culture's values and ideas. The factuality of the myth has little importance.

The difference between science and religion is the difference between understanding the innards of a Swiss watch and caring that 4pm is when your Mom gets home.

Science describes, religion explains (or at least tries to).

Why is my hair red?

Science

Depending on the branch of science, I may receive answers such as these:

Religion

Depending on the branch of religion, I may receive answers such as these:

  • Because God decided so.
  • Because you decided so before you were born.
  • Because everyone is born as a redhead in every fifth lifetime, and it was your turn.
  • Because of your actions in your previous life.

Interestingly, the answers of different branches of science may be completely different from each other. Sometimes, they may appear to be contradictory (though not too much in this case). Even though the question was why my hair is red, science really says how my hair is red.

The answers of different branches of religion may appear to be contradicting each other, typically more so than the different answers by different branches of science.

This may suggest that religion is much harder to figure out properly than science. I wish it weren't so because religion does attempt to really answer the question of why things happen rather than "just" describe how they happen. Alas, it is easier to describe than to explain. Unlike different branches of science, different branches of religion seem to contradict each other more. Maybe they do, maybe they do not and it just seems that way to us. Or, most likely, there is some contradiction but less than meets the eye.

What is worth noting is that the answers offered by the different branches of science do not contradict the answers offered by different branches of religion. This is because each is looking at things from a different perspective: Their approaches are not contradictory, rather thay are complementary.

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