The interrelationship between science and religion always fascinates me. Of course some think religion and science are opposed ways of understanding the world and have nothing in common with each other. They feel science is secular and atheistic. Others hold to a notion that truth is truth, and in as much as science and religion both are concerned about truth/reality, they actually are on the same side of the issue – ever seeking and searching for truth. Thus there is not scientific truth which is in opposition to religious truth, but rather there is simply truth and we all are looking for the same thing.
In as much as science limits its interest to what can be observed and tested, it is fascinating when science approaches issues related to spirituality and religion. I found NPR’s interactive IS THIS YOUR BRAIN ON GOD? to be an interesting way to approach spirituality from a scientific point of view. The interactive webpage allows you to go deeper into the story and read more about the topic if you are interested. Still for the most part it embraces of the point of view of a scientist more than that of a believer.
However, believing in a religion – Orthodox Christianity – which teaches that God became man – became incarnate – it is totally within the realm of science to study how spirituality is experienced by humans since at some point for the human to experience the event, it has also to become something observable and detectable. At some point the brain becomes involved in the experience, and science can observe the brain’s activity. This is as true about prayer and meditation as it would be about receiving a message from God. In the first what begins as a completely human activity (prayer and meditation), we believe eventually becomes something spiritual which God receives from us. There is a point of interfacing between God and humans. The same is true if God conveys a message to a human, at some point that message to be received interfaces with the human brain (not just the mind or soul). Thus, the spiritual world and the physical world are not oppositional realities, but interrelated – they do interface at some point. It is why Christians can claim there is a sacramental reality, or that icons are windows into heaven, or that relics can convey spiritual power or healing.
Christianity is a materialistic religion. It is not trying to escape the material world, but rather is trying to redeem, transfigure and transform empirical reality – to show that the world always was meant to be the means through which we experience God the Creator.
We come to know God through the senses of touch, hearing, smell, sight and taste. God created our bodies with the capability of experiencing the spiritual through them.
God created the world and loves that world and saves that world. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh – His incarnation, death and resurrection are all about saving the physical world, not just giving immortality to the soul.