On science and religion

In his book, Rock of Ages, Stephen Jay Gould has this to say about science and religion:

Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain those facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values—subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve. Similarly, while scientists must operate with ethical principles, some specific to their practice, the validity of these principles can never be inferred from the factual discoveries of science.

I have been accused recently of being a religious bigot with an aim to furtively introduce religious dogma behind a scientific facade. In addition to making ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims (“…[I] criticized NARTH in order to make way for his own version of reparative therapy by another name”), Peterson says I put religious beliefs before science in thinking about matters of sexuality. I have addressed these matters before but I want to do so again in a more general manner.

Briefly and generally, about science and religion, I suggest that science concerns itself with “what is;” while religion is more concerned with “what ought to be.” Science is descriptive, religion prescriptive. As Gould notes above, values cannot be reliably inferred from the factual discoveries of science. Einstein said similarly: “For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.”

For those who believe science directs moral choosing, I would be interested in hearing how individuals should gain their moral compass from a fact or finding of research.