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Radoslaw Nabrzyski WR 13300 Dr. Erin Dietel-McLaughlin 15 November 2013 Religion, Science and Media In todays world we are surrounded by media. It impacts the way we think, behave and feel. Most of us resort to media in search of entertainment or some sort of intellectual enrichment. Media serves us effectively and easily provides us with both of those aspects. However, at times media can also cause divergences and disagreements among people. The clash of science and religion is one of the most common examples of that situation. As opposed to ages such as the Renaissance, where religion was central to nearly everyones lives, today the majority of humanity trusts science more than anything else. In the modern age, people seem to have a nearly blind faith in anything that the media teaches the rhetorical power of global media causes our society to carry nearly doubtless attitudes about the news. Therefore, the sense of religiousness has deteriorated quite recently and all that is tangible or provable has taken the place that the divine once held on the list of our societys priorities. The medias promotion of scientific progress delivered in an effective fashion has led our society to rely almost completely on science and simultaneously caused recent generations to push religious teachings and morals into the background. Primarily, the online and televised news heavily influence a broad spectrum of people in terms of their opinions concerning the validity and scholarly merit concerning scientific progress. Such media presents reports and articles mainly praising scientific advancements with channels like the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. It is also important to acknowledge

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that education through screens is the dominant source of scientific information in our society, with seven out of ten youngsters [stating] that most of their scientific knowledge comes from watching television and 39 percent of the people surveyed in the same study claimed that specialized magazines (including online editions) compose their core of scientific knowledge, making those magazines the second highest in order of preference, right next to televised science shows (Delacote 44). BBC could easily be considered a pioneer in the art of communicating science to the society in just the right ways it serves more than the function [] of entertainment alone (Goodfield 23). Instead, BBC also serve[s] by exercising a deliberate and conscious choice in the quality and the level of the programs, forcing the viewers to develop new standards [] of objectivity and truth as well as a [] reasoned and accepted morality (Goodfield 23). Hence, BBC serves as an ideal example of a medium affecting the viewers perception of science, injecting the audience with an idea of infallible discovery of knowledge. It is also very important to keep in mind throughout this paper the fact that, as just stated by Goodfield, the media has an impact on our standards of morality. Goodfields claims can be easily integrated with Delacotes study mentioned previously, where the people surveyed also consider scientists to be competent, rigorous, [and] precise (Delacote 43). However, BBC is only a reflection of a larger pool of science-themed television channels. In the United States many people have access not only to BBC educational programs but also to local channels containing a slight overload of interesting information, presenting science in favorable ways. Those channels facilitate the publics support of scientific progress, and such support influences where science stands in our society in the end it is undeniable that in todays world any sane individual would not be even slightly doubtful of the validity of a scientific discovery. Instead, the society would accept the results of that breakthrough immediately, without any questions. Let

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us look at what science looked like before the media component came into play. A very common example, namely the one of Galileo Galileis case, is a perfect example. Galileo expressed his support Copernicuss heliocentric theory (essentially meaning that all the planets travel around the Sun, located in the center of our solar system), which resulted in the society and the Catholic Church ostracizing him and accusing Galileo of heresy. The public was convinced of whatever the Church taught was true. In todays world, however, this situation would not be likely to occur. Instead, the society would just nod and agree. The idea of the infinite Universe is the best example of such attitude. Even though it is not tangible to us that the nature of the Universe is that it is infinite, we still believe the idea that it has no end. The media reinforces the world of science, presenting us with such information in a relatable way, making it easier for us to understand and see science as something beneficial for the society. In the light of this, while the media discussed in the above paragraph draws our attention to scientific progress and presents it from a very favorable perspective, it simultaneously deteriorates our sense of religiousness and alters our sense of morality in a rather negative way. One of the instances where theistic values are put down is advertising. Approached from a Christian perspective by Peg Slinger, televised commercial advertising [] urges the minority of worlds population to devour a huge amount of its resources while millions of others drown in poverty (Slinger 204). What should happen instead, according to Slinger, is the fulfillment of what occured during Creation, where all humans are supplied with at least a minimal amount of resources to lead a decent lifestyle. Advertising causes the people of any religion, not just Christians to fall into material temptations and replace their faith with material goods, tangible goods, goods that we can know, feel, and most importantly, goods that bring us pleasure. People of Christian denominations are taught in their sacred scripture not to get too attached to earthly

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possessions because they will not be needed in the afterlife. However, any American can quite easily spot such Christians in the United States who gives him or herself into material desires, given that, as of 2008, as much as 78.4 of the American population identifies themselves as members of some Christian denomination (Lugo 5). So many upper-middle (and higher) class U.S. citizens are so severely driven by material needs, which, as previously mentioned, are caused by advertising, that they buy more than they can afford. A greater percentage of America is in debt. And all that is because people want newer houses, better shoes, nicer clothes and cars. All those goods are advertised as exclusive. However, as the Christian faith teaches, those goods will eventually deem unnecessary. So why do people lose their sense of religiousness and fall into earthly temptations deviating from what they claim to believe? The simple answer is the media. Although one could argue that the media has a mostly positive impact on religious values, it is important to realize that it isnt so, because even though there might be some beneficial factors of television or Twitter incorporating religion in one way or the other, the evidence points to media having a negative influence. A common argument for the media being a good thing for religion could revolve around Pope Franciss tweets. Yes, he does send out an inspirational religious message to the youth of the world almost daily through Twitter. Yes, he does have over 3 million followers (as of November 11, 2013). Yes, he does have 10 different accounts preaching the good news in 10 different languages. However, despite the fact that the Catholic Pope has quite an amazing group of followers and some truly inspirational tweets, he seems to be overwhelmed by Twitter accounts containing jokes mocking the Catholic faith. There are multiple examples of such mockery. For example, if one were to type in Jesus into the Twitter search engine, the accounts @jesus and @Jesus_M_Christ would pop up. Although

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those user does not have as many followers as Pope Francis himself does, they both hover around half a million. The tweets coming from those accounts are quite ridiculous, mocking religion in a fashion, which can be easily considered rude and inconsiderate. Another example is the one of a rapper of the stage name Lil B, who seems to be popular among teens. His twitter handle (the colloquial term among Twitter users referring to the account name) is @lilbthebasedgod, putting him in line with the divine. In fact, many of Twitter users refer to him as Based God. This of course would be considered sacrilegious or blasphemous by many, and yet teens adore the rapper as if he in fact were God. This is a reflection of what the media toes to our sense of spirituality. Social sites like Twitter contain a myriad of accounts mocking the religious aspect of our society and diminishing its importance. Although the fact that media affects both the realm of science and the world of religion, and that the obvious correlation between the science and religion revolving around the media, deeper thought is necessary to explore the causal nature of science affecting religion or vice versa. Does science, influenced through the media also have an impact on how we see religion and how we interpret everything under the aspect of good morality? It is clear that science and religion are connected to each other through the media component, but how certain can we be of whether or not science alone changes our attitudes about religion? There have been many instances where religion (specifically the Catholic Church in this argument) managed to actually coexist with science. On many occasions, Christian authorities were able to integrate scientific discoveries with what religion taught, omitting the media component. The Church and the world of science can in fact coexist on the same intellectual plane, and the examples of such coexistence can be found all throughout history. The case of evolution and creationism tends to be the one discussed the most often by intellectuals. Usually we hear accounts from both ends of

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the spectrum and the debates are led by extremists, who typically claim that one excludes the other. In actuality, however, one must take into consideration what is taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where the idea that the scientific exploration of the origins of man are not invalid at all and that that scientific progress invite[s] us to greater admiration of the Creator, prompt[s] us to give Him thanks for all his works (Catechism). Therefore, it is logical to conclude that there is no direct link between science and religion. Another interesting and this time more in-depth piece of evidence supporting the coexistence of science and religion is Arthur Smethursts work. He also entertains the idea of the theory of evolution not being necessarily contradictory of what the book of Genesis teaches. He first begins by explaining that some of the writings of the Old Testament, including Genesis itself, were influenced by pagan creation epics current in these nations (Smethurst 108). Preceding that statement is his analysis of various geographical and paleontological findings concerning the approximate age of the Earth as well as the first signs of life on our planet. Clearly, the evidence points to everything but the fact that all of the world was created within six days, [t]hus, the important point in the first chapter of Genesis is not the precise order in which various living organisms came into being, or the details of the process of creation there suggested, but rather the central fact of creation itself and the doctrine that God is the origin of all created things, all life, and all existence (Smethurst 108). Hence, we can see that the evidence found by archeologists is not necessarily incoherent with the Christian faith and morals. In fact, scientific progress is considered good by the Church, as mentioned in the paragraph above and this fact is only confirmed here. However, if science generates a positive impact on our societys understanding of religion, then there must be another

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source of the growing disconnect between peoples favoritism of intellectual progress over spirituality and morals. In the end, provided with all of the above information, one could attempt to draw a link between media, science and religion. In fact, it is media that actually mediates the changing attitudes in public. Without the media, science and religion would be able to coexist. Religious leaders would be acceptant of scientific findings and would find the connection between these findings and faith. Therefore, it is the media that drives us further and further away from our religion and into the world of science. The Shroud of Turin is quite a decent example for such occurrence. Of course, the way media presents the Shroud to the society shouldnt necessarily lead to the lessening of ones faith. Instead, the Shroud is put out of the central focus of the central focus of the faith because of the convincing ways in which the media portrays the Shroud of Turin. In his Time article, David Van Biema presents evidence from Oxford University, and includes details such as the fact that the odds of the Shroud having been a possession of Jesus Christ himself are one in a hundred trillion, as proven by the scientific research (Biema). Of course, the author of that article did not necessarily have to include that fact, but he did so for rhetorical purpose. That small detail puts the Shroud of Turin in completely different light. We are driven to believe the science if we were to believe that the Shroud were truly wrapped around Jesus, the chances of us being wrong would be incredibly close to 100 percent. Therefore, we are forced to rely on the ways of science and stray away from the ways of religion. This article, however, is only one of many instances in which the media implicitly attempts to influence the way we think about science and diminish our sense of religion. Of course, the instance of the Shroud only reflects the attitude within the world of the media and Van Biemas article isnt meant to disturb our religiousness. It simply serves as a strong representation of what

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the media implicitly does. There are many more instances, where our sense of morality is actually diminished by the media that promotes science. The growing atheist population in the United States can be categorized as a good reflection of that, where, between 2005 and 2012 there was a 13 percent increase in American atheists (Winston). The media promotion of science is, once again, a cause of such religious deterioration. In conclusion, the medias promotion of scientific progress delivered in an effective fashion has led our society to rely almost completely on science and simultaneously caused recent generations to push religious teachings and morals into the background. This conflict has been ever so slightly present ever since modern media like television and social networks have been a part of our society. In addition, that same problem is constantly growing. The media rhetorically causes our society to resort to science. The media afflicts our moral values and the place religion and spirituality hold in our hierarchy of needs. In order for our society to function properly, we must all take a step back and look at where we stand. It is obvious that media influences our religion in a rather negative way (especially social media and advertising, as seen above). As a community, we are obligated to not forget about our morals in our everyday lives. That doesnt only mean that we must pay attention to how we behave. We also have to be consciously aware of the message that the media is communicating and not let it come in the way of our spiritual life. Although the coexistence of a religious life and a life based on scientific principles is possible, as shown above, it is important not to let the media influence us severely in one direction or the other. Basing our ways solely on religion is just as unhealthy as basing our ways solely on science and resorting to atheism. Hence, as a society, we must find the balance between the two and separate the media component from the other two aspects.

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Works Cited Biema, David Van. "Science And The Shroud." TIME.com. N.p., 20 May 1998. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. "Catechism of the Catholic Church." Catechism of the Catholic Church. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Delacote, Goery. "Science and Scientists: Public Perception and Attitudes." (n.d.): n. pag. Rpt. in Communicating Science to the Public. Chischester: John Wiley & Sons, 1987. 41-48. Print. Goodfield, June. Reflections on Science and the Media. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981. Print. Jesus Christ (Jesus_M_Christ). 10 November 2013. Twitter account. Jesus Christ (jesus). 10 November 2013. Twitter account. Lil B From Da Pack (LILBTHEBASEDGOD). 10 November 2013. Twitter account. Lugo, Luis. U.S.Religious Landscape Survey. Rep. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Feb. 2008. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Smethurst, Arthur F. Modern Science and Christian Beliefs. Nashville: Abingdon, 1955. Print. Winston, Kimberly. "On Faith." Washington Post. N.p., 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.