On January 9th people drawn from various religious groups protested outside the House of Lords against The Sexual Orientation Regulations. This is a fairly simple set of rules that say you can’t discriminate against someone on the grounds of their sexual orientation. The protesting religious groups feel it is their right to continue descriminating against people on the grounds that (by their interpretation of the relevant books) their respective deities said so.
This for me is a great example of the science vs spirituality debate that will have a large part to play in defining our future.
A hundred years ago, there would have been no question about who was ‘right’. The idea of protecting people’s right to be gay, and to be treated equally to others, would have been unthinkable. Then the church had greater power over the state than it does today, and this would have been seen as a ‘moral’ issue. The word of god much more important than the ‘lifestyle choice’ of a few ‘deviants’.
Today we know that to be gay is no more a lifestyle choice than being black or white (however much some might try to dispute this). There’s a lot more learning to be done to understand the real nature of sexuality, but the science is strong enough for most Western governments to offer gay people and couples equal rights. Science overrules religion (now seen as a ‘lifestyle choice’).
The debate will continue, but the conflict between science and spirituality ranges much wider than just equal rights. The two groups are often on opposing sides of issues such as medical research, education, and foreign policy. Who wins these arguments is likely to be a defining factor in both the rate and direction of progress for the human race.