An exchange i just had with some not very bright individual on Quora. I've heard those tired arguments so many times, i think we should call this bullshit out more frequently in our #atheism
My opponent started with defense of the NOMA - one of the dumbest ideas of the last century. When i pointed out to him that NOMA is just a final attempt to defend the "God of the gaps", and there are no questions that can be better answered by #religion
than by #science
, he produced this piece of nonsense: Answers to moral questions are not verifiable or reproducible, therefore, not scientific. Just because you don't think there's value in asking questions that are outside the reach of science doesn't mean those questions don't exist. Just because religion has been used to do bad things doesn't make religion bad - science gave us the nuclear bomb, does that make science bad?
So here's my reply:
1. Answers to moral questions are perfectly verifiable and reproducible - we do that all the time, especially lately when the shackles of religion have weakened. The latest example of this would be our attitude towards homosexuality. According to religious morality, it was considered immoral. We tried decriminalising and destigmatising it in a few countries - and it worked, it made of lot of people happier - so it has become the norm. Science played a huge part in it. Religion was wrong on this one, as usual.
2. Science doesn't have to be directly reproducible. To study black holes, we don't need to create them in our labs. Science can work with indirect observations. And in this way it can study everything that exists in this universe. And if some things doesn't exist in this universe - like gods - then yes, questions about them are also meaningless. If there are no observable consequences of the existence of something, that means that too all intents and purposes that something doesn't exist.
3. Religion is bad and science is good not because of the things that were done using them. As you correctly pointed out, they are just tools. Religion is a bad tool, and science is a good tool. They are also tools for different purposes. Science is a tool for gaining knowledge, religion is a tool for organising (or controlling) society. And even in that capacity religion has been replaced by better tools, such as democracy.
Religion can not and should not be used to answer any questions. It cannot do that, it was not made for that. It can, but should not be used to stop people from asking questions.