At one time, the Catholic church not only had scientists in their hire, but in order to increase in rank, the bishops, priests, etc, had to be fairly fluent in science. At that time, they used science to prove the existence of God. For example, Ptolemy's science showed that Earth was the very center of the universe, clearly indicating that we who live on Earth are the creation of a Supreme Being.
Granted, Ptolemy's math was no where near the level of today's, but with all its imperfections, it worked for that time.
As later science emerged that showed that not only was Earth not the center of the universe, but just one of several planets orbiting a sun, which also wasn't anywhere near the center of the universe (indeed, our sun lies well outward toward the edge of our own galaxy), Religion and Science separated.
But after watching numerous PBS specials dealing with not just science in general, but also science dealing with the galaxies, planets, life, the universe, and all sorts of other phenomenon, I have noticed one common thread among scientists that does not seem to be recognized. Just about all of the great scientists still refer to anything in existence as the work of God. Even Einstein said, "I do not believe that God plays dice with the Universe." Stephen Hawking, regarded as one of the most brilliant minds of our time regard cosmology and black hole theories still gives credit to God.
A co-worker and I got into a discussion last night at work. Basically, he was saying that our scientists will only realize that they are wasting their time trying to prove this, or discover that, after they have died and are standing in front of God trying to explain to Him why they did not spend their energies focused on Him.
I asked how he knew that they were wasting their time if the ultimate discovery proves His existence.
I got the typical, God does not need to prove that He exists, but he does it anyway, all the time.
I had several retorts. a) This is not God proving that He exists, this is we who are doing the proving. b) I asked how he knew if God didn't want us to know this information (his response being that we would know all once we die). c) Upon his query of what good this information will do mankind, I responded with that at this time, we don't know, but if our world lasts long enough, it may reveal to us many things which we are incapable of understanding now.
We went back and forth for over an hour. I mostly did the listening, simply because I do have some interest in what people think about God.
You see, in my point of view, God is just as abstract of an idea as String Theory would be to a catholic priest. To me, God is a cop-out, a way to explain away the unexplainable. People in misery wonder why God is punishing them so. People who are at the top of their field do not necessarily believe that their brains could have thought of a particular idea without some sort of divine intervention. There are those of us who give ourselves too much credit, and others who do not give ourselves enough.
The majority of the world believes in a God in one form or another. In fact, over 80 per cent of all people believe in something other-worldy.
I have been asked if my belief that there is no God leads me to the conclusion that the majority of the world is wrong. I must now say that with the numerous number of religions which believe in completely different gods, which also say that those who worship another God are worshiping a false God, are committing this same act. When a Muslim says that you are either a Muslim or an infidel, is it not true that they are also saying that the rest of the world is wrong? When a catholic says there is only One God, and not to believe in Him makes you a non-believer, and therefore wrong, is that not also calling the majority of the world, which does not share the catholic belief wrong?
If they can say that the rest of the world who does not share their belief is wrong, then why can't I?
But I am not really what you would consider an atheist. You see, I just don't share the same view as anyone else does about who are what God is.
If God is even 1/100th as powerful as any one religion claims Him to be, then He is still powerful enough to be what anyone views Him to be:
If a Catholic believes he will go to a heaven made of gold, then when he dies, that is where he will end up. If an atheist believes in nothingness after death, then surely that same God has the ability for that person to know nothing after his demise, not even that God exists in the first place. A Muslim fighting a jihad, upon his death, will end up exactly where he believes he will. A Buddhist will be reincarnated. The list goes on. And it doesn't matter which God you choose. Put all the gods in a hat, and pick one out at random, and the same will be true.
To the vast majority of you, this concept may be difficult to understand, and even more difficult for you to believe. Because what I am ultimately saying is that we all, all 6 billion people on this blue-green planet, believe exactly the same thing. Science is no different. We are all reaching to understand something intangible. Some of us use religion, some of us science. We are all thinking of an abstract concept. And the goal is the same.