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Religion versus Astronomy

Religion and science have always been in direct competition with one another. Religion, broadly, way of life or belief based on a person’s ultimate relation to the universe or a god or gods. In this sense such diverse systems as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Shinto may be considered religions. In a more commonly accepted sense, however, the term religion refers to faith in a divinely created order of the world, agreement with which ‘is the means of salvation for a community and thus for each individual who has a role in that community. Astronomy is a science dealing with all the celestial bodies in the universe, including the planets and their satellites, comets and meteors, the stars and interstellar matter, the star systems known as galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and quasars. Modern astronomy is divided into several branches: astrometry, the observational study of the positions and motions of these bodies; celestial mechanics, the mathematical study of their motions as explained by the theory of gravitation; astrophysics, the study of their chemical composition and physical condition from spectrum analysis and the laws of physics; and cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole.

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The ultimate goal of science is to prove the inexistence of God with facts, while the existence in God is simply based on belief and faith. While 95% of the people living on Earth believe in a superior being of some sort, some might say that religion clouds the minds of otherwise logical individuals and makes it impossible for them to pursue the truth of the Universe. Thus, the debate on which view is the right one continues on, while somewhere in the middle stand religious followers who are also scientists. Many people claim that the belief in religion comes simply from the “need of something to believe in”. However, it is difficult to argue against the fact that religion does not include its followers in something greater, then just a “need”. It allows for identification with a greater body of religious believers and for the inclusion in the love of a God. The only thing religion asks for in return is faith in its teachings which is made up of their morals and the existence of the God which they cherish and worship.

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In the movie “Contact”, Ellie Arroway represents many scientists in the world. She is torn between religion and science; however she is unable to rely on the assumed truths of the teachings of religions.

Science is the search for truth; it allows her to discover the truth for herself. As Palmer Joss later mentions in the movie, the purity of science is not involved in the furthering of technology. Technology is not the God that science seeks, for it seeks to create no God, science does not believe in any sort of God.

As religion accepts the truths written in its texts and taught in its teachings, science continues, through research, to search for “the truth of the Universe”. Both seek to fulfill the same thirst; desires that mass numbers of individuals have to understand and be part of something so vast that it includes everything, everywhere. Religion and science may be in competition with one another but the truth is they have the same goal; to find the truth, whether it be based on faith or facts.

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