I think that some of the friction between science and religion comes from the double-speak of religion, where many words are given meanings that are counter to the word’s secular definition. Take the word “truth” for example. The Encarta Dictionary defines “truth” as:
- Something factual - the thing that corresponds to fact or reality.
- True quality - correspondence to fact or reality.
- True statement - a statement that corresponds to fact or reality.
- Obvious fact - something that is so clearly true that it hardly needs to be stated.
Note that any belief derived from faith alone cannot be considered a truth, yet the word is used constantly by the religulous . Every major religion, and every one of the thousands of sects within, claim that they are the only “truth”. I would be willing to wager, for example, that nearly every major radio market has a religious radio station called “The Truth”. Most of these stations are about as far to the left as possible. Pastor Chuck Smith on “Pastor’s Perspective” the other day was discussing how man and dinosaurs coexisted. I’m not sure whether belief in that “truth” is funny or sad.
Let’s take one more word. The Encarta Dictionary defines “religion” as:
- Belief and worship - people's beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life.
- System - an institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine.
- Personal beliefs or values - a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.
- Obsession - an object, practice, cause, or activity that somebody is completely devoted to or obsessed by.
Many times I have heard Christians attempt to completely sidestep anti-religious arguments with the classic “But Christianity is not a religion. It's a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Yes, Virginia, it is a religion. You can’t change the definition of something simply by calling it something else. A rose is a rose and all. Suppose you accuse someone with a drinking problem of being an alcoholic and they say, “I’m not an alcoholic, I have a personal relationship with Jim Beam.”