Do you have to be an atheist to be a scientist?

This blog is written and copyrighted by Harrison Homer ©

What is the purpose of life? To fully comprehend and to even begin to attempt to answer this question, a definition of life is necessary. So, what is life? Here’s my definition. Life is any living thing that abides by the following guidelines: the organism must contain DNA, adapt or evolve in a change in its environment, be self replicating (either sexually or asexually), use energy (metabolize), and be sentient. Life consumes water, contains cell(s), and produce gas(ses) as well as heat.  These definitions will help us to try and find the purpose of life, for, exemplified by all the definitions above, life does not simply apply to humans. One must include bacteria, fungi, reptiles, mammals, birds, etc. Thus, a strict biological scientist might declare that the purpose of life is simply to reproduce. Most biological functions of all organisms point to faculties that allow and help reproduction.

However, I do not believe that this is the only purpose for humans. Evolutionarily (or perhaps religiously…whatever floats your boat), humans have become the most intelligent beings on earth (that we know of). Like all other organisms, humans can reproduce. However, in addition to this requisite, we also have incredibly complex brains, which allow us to carry out abstract thought: concepts such as philosophy, questions of morality, etc. So why would we “be granted” this intelligence and yet have no reason to use it?

Neil deGrasse Tyson, a famous atheist scientist, puts forth another interesting perspective. He notes“How about human life itself? If you are religious, you might declare that the purpose of life is to serve God. But if you’re one of the 100 billion bacteria living and working in a single centimeter of our lower intestine (rivaling, by the way, the total number of humans who have ever been born) you would give an entirely different answer. You might instead say that the purpose of human life is to provide you with a dark, but idyllic, anaerobic habitat of fecal matter…”

Tyson concludes that true scientists must state that there is no greater purpose or special meaning to life, and that a belief in God and or a greater purpose to our existence is not necessary to explain our existence and is therefore unscientific. Therefore he believes that the true scientist must be an atheist. Do you agree? Do you think that he is entitled do make this statement?


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