Religion and Science


On October 22, 1844 thousands of people sat in their armchairs, waiting for the end of the world.  William Miller declared Jesus Christ would return that very day, bringing about final judgement.  He convinced his ever expanding flock that the absolute word of God was revealed to him in the bible.  And so those thousands put their affairs in order and sat down to welcome their fate.  But October 22 came, then the 23rd and, as you have probably guessed, the world didn’t end.  Those disappointed thousands, and the untold millions around them, observed another sunrise, and then another.

It would seem this is one of the few cases where we can use the expression “Science versus Religion” because someone made a testable Religion based prediction, and it was shown to be false.  Since all science consists of observing and measuring what is happening all around us, if someone makes a prediction that can be tested, scientists, or indeed any one of us, can evaluate its validity.  We haven’t really proven religion false, but rather one man’s interpretation of it.  Perhaps we could go so far as to say that Miller’s religion was shown to be false, but Miller’s religion is not all of religion.

It is a short step from trying to understand God’s will to wanting to be the worldly authority on how God acts.  What actually happened in 1844 was that those who wanted to dictate to God what he must do, had been found wanting.


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