Monday, July 22, 2024

Science v/s Religion

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In the science v/s religion can we do away with religion? Is science the only panacea? What is the way forward? What should be the goal of us?

The intellectual life of societies globally has been animated by a highly interesting debate-science v/s religion.

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Religion in that context is not just organized religions that we see today but also the old Pagan faiths which is slowly but surely making a comeback.

Religion has been around for thousands of years since the Cognitive Revolution of human beings some 70,000 years ago.

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It has become a distinct part of one’s life.

Having said that, it is the inquisitive nature of the Homo Sapiens species that contributed to the growth of science.

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Science, has been for us, a blessing. Today, we owe the comfort of our life to science.

Without science, life would never have been as it today is.

But the co-existence of two such great forces has led us to ask a question-can we do without one? Can we internalize only science and not religion?

Religion- A Source of Succour and Trouble

Religion can be anecdotally defined as a set of beliefs, ideas and perception of what constitutes an ethical code of conduct, the existence of in the words of Frederich Nietzsche a superman i.e., a deity preferably in an anthromorphic form.

The deity of God is the creator of heaven and hell and is the source of all creation.

Religion, according to Yuval Noah Harari has been a source of ‘storytelling‘ which isn’t seen in other species of animals.

Religion in its primitive format involved the worship of natural forces like wind, sun, water etc.

However, major organized religions arose in the form of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc. with their central book, deity and belief systems.

Taking recourse to religion in times of trouble has been a proclivity of humans.

While religions teaches us good values like charity (Zakat in Islam), non-violence (turning away the other cheek in Christianity), tolerance and inclusivity (Hinduism), it has been a source of sheer trouble as well.

Persecutions in the name of religion has been rampant throughout theological history. In this context the Jewish and Hindu people have been the biggest sufferers.

In fact, Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature documents that deaths in the 11th-13th century and in the 16th century in Europe were high due to the crusades and European wars of religion.

Similarly, religion also encouraged persecution of women in the name of witchcraft.

Terrorism is also carried out in the name of religion.

Science- A Paragon of Good Life

This on the other hand is a paragon of good life. Science is not just limited to discoveries and inventions.

It is not just limited to the field of academia and research.

But, science also involves cultivating a scientifically strong empirical mindset.

Science involves experimentation, observation and conclusion. Do not accept everything at face value.

Judge, question and then accept. This is perhaps what Jawaharlal Nehru talked of when he vigorously advocated the cause of science.

As such a lot of scientists do not believe in religion. They consider religion to be non-empirical and violent.

People like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Christopher Hitchens, Anand Ranganathan question religion and its very existence.

Way Forward

Since both religion and science command such a strong grip in society, so it is better to advocate what Buddha called the Middle Path.

As such religion has to be scientifically oriented i.e., follow religious commands that science legitimizes.

Question scriptures if they are non-scientific, do not be a scriptural literalist.

Scientific mindset must be the most important goal.

That is why Hinduism is becoming so popular, it has strong scientific underpinnings.

Therefore it is tricky to say who will emerge as the winner in science v/s religion.



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