It's a common meme: If you are an Atheist, and you support science, you are frequently accused of trying to replace religion with science. A recent example is here: What's wrong with science as religion? The zen answer to that question, of course, is mu. What exactly is wrong with the question? Few if any Atheists have actually advocated such a thing. What atheists support, by and large, is abandoning religion.

So why conflate abandonment and replacement? This is an especially confusing question, given how many religious advocates regularly state that science and religion are not mutually exclusive (and thus that one cannot replace the other.) They cite ideas such as separate magesteria to support this position. Now, I don't buy in to separate magesteria. However, the existence of good scientists who are also religious (though in modern times they are few and far between) rather supports the notion that science and religion don't address the same issues, and therefore science can't replace religion.

What about other facets of religion? Can science replace those? Here are some purported benefits of religion. Try to imagine either an atheist or a theist suggesting that science can replace one:


Now, obviously, these aren't things that stump the atheist philosophy. Equally obvious, however, is that science can't fill in for any of them. Which, of course, is why (almost) no one is suggesting it should.

So again, if science can't fill in for religion, and few if any atheists are actually suggesting it should, why is it that the "science replacing religion" meme is brought out so often? I don't know. All I can say is that it is striking irony when such a frequent retort boils down to "you're just as bad as we are." That irony only intensifies when one realizes that being "only as good as we are" is exactly the atheist argument for why abandoning religion is a reasonable idea.

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