Science and religion. Completely different, or exactly identical?
I was struck silent the first time I came across this question. While studying Mendelian genetics, my book used a very unique example to explain the concept of heredity: Jacob’s spotted sheep, from Genesis 30:25-43.
To cut to the chase, Laban is making an unfair deal with Jacob. Jacob will take all the dark-colored sheep, while Laban will have all the white and spotted/speckled/streaked sheep. Funnily, spotted sheep “magically” appeared among Jacob’s flock and Laban is either accusing Jacob of stealing his sheep or practicing witchery on them.
Of course there’s a scientific explanation behind it.
Dark fur color in this population of sheep is dominant, while colored is recessive. Therefore, heterozygous sheep will appear to be black but also carry the recessive allele. In Jacob’s flock, all sheep are phenotypically black, but there are two possible genotypes: Cc and cc (assuming “C” and “c” as the two alleles for fur color). When two heterozygous (Cc) sheep mate, there is a 25% chance that the offspring will be homozygous recessive (cc), as shown in this punnett square. So, it is possible that spotted sheep will appear in Jacob’s flock.
Here, religion makes good observations but fails to explain the “how?” It is easily dismissed that Jacob used magical spotted branches to induce color change in sheep. The above scientific explanation is a more…plausible analysis. This scientific paper makes an interesting attempt to explain the significance of the presence of the branches in the story.
Jacob and his sheep brings up a startling similarity and also a stark contrast between science and religion. Science is generally more methodical, based on the scientific method which leans heavily on reason and empiricism. Religion is solely based on faith and revelation. Yet science and religion are more like two different takes on the same ideas. They’re constantly overlapping and both strive to provide an explanation to naturally occurring phenomenon.
More evidence points to the agreement of religion and science. Evolution and the Creation? Sounds like the same story, just told from two different perspectives. Many famous scientists (such as Einstein, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Pascal, Mendel, and Faraday) were also religious men. They believed that studying science is a quest which would ultimately lead to God. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. I’m an atheist, but this relationship between religion and science has definitely captivated my attention.
Will science and religion go hand in hand in the future?