Science Always Defeats Religion

by James A Haught

Writer-in-Residence–United Coalition of Reason

(Investigator 178, 2018 January)

The historic war between science and religion began in Ancient Greece, and it still roils more than two millennia later. Science has won every encounter, yet supernatural believers won’t surrender.

Classical Greece teemed with magical faith. Multitudes of animals were sacrificed to a bizarre array of invisible gods who supposedly lived atop Mount Olympus. Throngs gave money to oracles who allegedly conveyed messages from the gods. Even "sacred wars" were fought over wealth accumulated by oracle shrines.

Amid all this mumbo-jumbo, a few wise thinkers began seeking natural explanations, not supernatural ones. It was the birth of science—but it was risky, because believers killed nonbelievers.

Anaxagoras (500-428 BCE) taught that the sun and moon are natural objects, not deities. He was sentenced to death for impiety, but escaped into exile.

Protagoras (490-420 BCE) said he didn’t know whether gods exist—so he was banished from Athens. His writings were burned, and he drowned while fleeing at sea.

The most famous martyr was Socrates (470-399 BCE), who was sentenced to death for offenses including "not worshiping the gods worshiped by the state."

Through centuries, believers often killed scientific thinkers, but science always proved correct.

Hypatia (c.360-415 CE), a brilliant woman who headed Alexandria’s famed library of knowledge, was beaten to death by Christian followers of St. Cyril.

Physician Michael Servetus (c.1510-1553)—the first to learn that blood flows from the heart to the lungs and back—was burned in John Calvin’s Puritanical Geneva for doubting the Trinity

Bruno Giordano (1548-1600) was burned by the  Holy  Inquisition for teaching that Earth circles the sun, and the universe is infinite. Galileo narrowly escaped the same fate for the same reason, but was sentenced to house arrest for life.

By the time that Charles Darwin (1809-1882) perceived evolution, western religion mostly had lost the power to kill nonconformists. His great breakthrough unleashed a religion-vs.-science battle that still rages today. It caused the notorious “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee in 1925, and still flares when fundamentalists try to ban evolution from public school science courses. They contend that a supernatural father-creator made all species in modern form about 6,000 years ago—while science proves that life goes back vastly further, and that new species evolved from former ones. Evolution has become the bedrock of modern biology.

The struggle between science and religion also arises when some strong believers let their children die because—trusting promises by Jesus that prayer will cure disease—they refuse to get medical help.

Nowadays, nearly everyone realizes that science is a colossal boon to humanity, curing disease, eliminating drudgery, advancing knowledge, opening worldwide communications and generally making life better. In 1900, the average lifespan was just 48 years, but now it’s near 80, thanks mostly to medical improvements. In contrast, religion gives the world little, and Islamic extremism causes constant slaughter.

Science wins every showdown, constantly undercutting religion’s supernatural dogmas. World-renowned biologist Richard Dawkins says faith “subverts science and saps the intellect.” Luckily, it’s still losing the war between science and religion.

Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail, and is writer-in-residence for the United Coalition of Reason.
He may be reached by e-mail, either at or

Does Science Always Defeat Religion?


(Investigator 179, 2018 March)

In 2017 a former Olympic gymnastics doctor was sentenced to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of female athletes. Wikipeda says: "It is one of the biggest abuse scandals in sports history."

Other doctors have abused children, or committed rape, murder or other crimes. Josef Mengele (1911-1979) and Eduard Wirths (1909-1945) of Germany are especially infamous.

It would be easy to list more evil doctors and portray doctors as the most morally bad profession on Earth and, by listing primitive medical practices of previous centuries, as always defeated by science.

We could do similarly with any group whether teachers, politicians, students, atheists, etc. The bigger the group the more examples of horrid conduct and unscientific beliefs we'll find.

That's James Haught's first error, the group he considered in Investigator 178, i.e. religion, is very big.

What do we see if out of all religion we zoom down to just the Bible?

The Bible anticipated various biological facts about lions, hyraxes, ants, crocodiles and other animals, facts that science confirmed in the 20th century. In other words science was wrong until it caught up to the Bible.

Similar has happened in many other areas of science besides biology. For example, I found out from the Bible in the early 1970s about the threat of asteroids to civilization when almost no one else knew about it.

As regards science itself, I've shown in Investigator that modern science began in Christianity: Church-attending scientists blazed the trail for centuries and founded electronics, genetics, archaeology, oceanography and other sciences.

Science may defeat religion generally, but when it comes to the Bible they work together.

Lifton, R.J. 1986 The Nazi Doctors, Macmillan, London, p. 6 scandal