Religious Science – A Contradiction in Terms

My parents, my sister, and I went to a Religious Science church when I was a kid. My parents didn’t force us to go. I don’t know what would have happened if one of us refused to go. At one of the Religious Science churches, they had the largest theater organ on the West Coast (of the United States). I had from an early age been a piano and organ player and tolerated getting up early in order to hear the organ before the services. I used to tell people that the church I went to seemed more focused on the realities of life than what I saw of other churches on TV and in movies. It was not all reading from the bible, calling everyone a sinner, and singing about God’s glory. They talked more about actual financial issues than I had ever seen from other churches. Later in my cynical life, I realize this was probably just a lead-in to asking for donations.

I am not exactly sure, but I believe I had the beginnings of my atheism already stirring inside me when I was going to church. I was not buying what they were preaching. I only attended Sunday School once that I can remember. I know I didn’t like it and preferred being with my parents in the regular part of the church. The other kids in Sunday School just seemed weird and ill-mannered. They were not living the same life that I was living. These kids were believing the supernatural stories they were being told or at least not questioning them. There were jokes in the services, but none as good as the jokes I heard from more unconstrained comedians.

I believe they called themselves “Religious Scientists” because they were using the word “science” to bring some legitimacy to their religious beliefs. This is fine in theory but no examination of deities can stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific method. I put a link to the Wikipedia article on the “scientific method” because I don’t think most people actually understand what the scientific method means. It involves asking questions, experimentation, examining results, and peer review until scientists truly call something fact. A theory only becomes fact after many scientists have run that theory through many independent scientific studies. Evolution is not a theory because it has been proven correct so often that it is considered overwhelmingly by scientists to be true. What you believe doesn’t matter. You can believe a hypothesis but it will not stand up to the scientific method if it can be proven false.

Religious people see the scientific method as unsuitable for examining what they believe to be true. Scientists can be just as biased as religious people when they believe something to be true. Both of their beliefs can be found to be unsupported when they come up against the scientific method. When a legitimate scientist encounters a false result, they try more experiments until they come to a positive result. Even after they find a positive result, they run the exact same tests several more times to confirm the result was not a fluke. After that, the results get peer reviewed by other scientists. Admittedly, the steps I have given here have been overly simplified. When religious people have attempted to “scientifically” prove the validity of their religion, the scientific method becomes far too stringent. If you don’t have faith in the religion, no amount of science is going to help you gain the faith. You just have to believe.

I don’t think Religious Science is a bad religion (Catholicism, Scientology, and Mormonism definitely deserve high honors in this category), but I do think the followers are being lied to by the practitioners of Religious Science. Because a religion lies to its followers less than other religions does not make that religion good for people. All religions lie to their followers because there are no facts to back up the supernatural elements that all religions have in common. Supernatural equals unsubstantiated. This kind of narrative or text is fine in the realm of fiction but not fine for supposed non-fiction. Religious Science is a religion based on fiction as are all religions.

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