Here's a basic fact: science is well-suited to understanding the nature of reality.
Religion, on the other hand, is a very poor way of knowing reality. So religious belief must bow down to the scientific method if a believer makes a claim about God, soul, spirit, heaven, life after death, or some other supernatural subject.
Below are excerpts from a book that I've finished reading, "The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes." In a concluding chapter, Donald Hoffman, the author, makes some great points about the primacy of science in separating fact from fiction.
Because we humans are prone to so many perception and thinking errors, science uses debate, arguments, and reason to distinguish flimsy dogma from solid truth.
I especially liked how Hoffman demolishes the viewpoint that because some aspect of reality supposedly is beyond the bounds of language and concepts, beliefs about this ineffable something-or-other have to be accepted by other people. Wrong. If something is outside of language, nothing can be said about it.
Including "this is true." Meaning, if someone claims to have experienced the ineffable existence of God, they should say nothing, because there's nothing that can be said about God.
On the other hand, if this person wants their belief to be adopted by others, then they've entered into the realm of science. Present your arguments for the existence of God. Show us your evidence for God's existence. Engage in debates with people who disagree with you. Refute arguments for the non-existence of God.
Here's the excerpts from the "Community" chapter of The Case Against Reality.
Science, like philosophy and religious practice, is a human endeavor. It is not infallible.
Each of the many attempts to demarcate, from first principles, science from pseuodscience remains, at best, controversial. What science offers is not gold-standard beliefs, but a potent method for winnowing beliefs that derives its power from the way it engages with human nature.
We are a species that argues.
Experiments show, and evolutionary theory explains, that we reason best when we argue for an idea that we already believe, or against the idea of another that we disbelieve. We did not evolve our ability to reason in order to pursue the truth. We evolved it as a tool of social persuasion.
As a result, our reasoning is plagued with foibles, such as a bias toward information that supports what we already believe. The scientific method exploits all of this.
Each scientist argues for her idea, and against contradictory ideas of other scientists. In this argumentative context, our reason is at its sharpest: each idea garners the best support of reason and evidence its proponents can muster, and each endures the best impalement by reason and evidence its detractors can counter.
Add to this sharpening of reason the demand that ideas be precise -- mathematically precise, when possible -- and the phoenix of science arises from foibles of human nature.
Science is not a theory of reality, but a method of inquiry.
It orchestrates the better angels of our nature to promote reason, precision, productive dialog, and an appeal to evidence. It curbs our proclivity for the vague, deceptive, dogmatic, and imperious. Inquiry into any question that captures the human imagination -- including meaning, purpose, values, beauty, and spirituality -- deserves no less than the full benefit of this orchestration.
Why not deny our best chance to better understand?
...If a system of thought, religious or otherwise, offers a claim that it wants taken seriously, then we should examine it with our best method of inquiry -- the scientific method. That is taking it seriously.
Some topics -- such as God, the good, reality, and consciousness -- have been claimed to transcend the limited scope of human concepts and thus the methods of science. I have no quarrel with someone who claims this and then, being consistent, says no more about these topics.
But if one does say more, then "What can be said at all can be said clearly" and probed with the scientific method.
Can science describe who we are? I think so, in the sense that we can, by the scientific method, evolve and refine theories of who we are. But if science cannot describe who we are, then imprecise natural languages such as English certainly cannot describe who we are.
We have no better means of crafting explanations than the scientific method. An explanation that descended from on high, but could not be tested and debated, would be no explanation at all.