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Religion and Science - Complementary Forces
|by Prof. Shubha Tiwari|
When the world was a chaos, when disorder was the order of the day, when human animal followed no rules, when one man lived with many women and vice versa, when taking toxic substances was considered no folly, when human animal killed or hurt any of his species just for his selfish gains, some wise creatures of the breed (because human-beings were human after all and not more animals) formed a sort of a code of conduct and ordered others to follow it. To give those rules a compulsive tinge the power of the unknown was introduced. The fear of an omnipotent force was popularized so that human beings follow the code. This set of vague rules later became an established tradition and was named as 'dharma' or religion.
Now the dictionary meaning of science is 'systematic and formulated knowledge' while technology means ' science of the industrial arts'. The validity of the topic of this essay arises from the fact that while religion demands a complete faith and an unquestionable acceptance of certain ideals, science and technology demand open, unbiased study of facts and give a right to question whatever is in our power to question. While in religion certain areas are simply sacred and are not to be touched, science and technology never accept any heard of or reported concepts. Science and technology are for what we touch and what we see. Thus the question and a genuine one at that is how in this age of ever growing science and technology, the pillars of religion can be saved from getting shaken. Our quest in this essay would be to prove that though science and technology are inevitable in the modern world, religion must be given its own way to discipline people because if this freedom of impulsive conduct is to prevail, soon this creation will be turned into a polluted hell of diseases, brutal sexuality and eventually total ruin.
Religion needs to be understood in its true form. Scientific endeavors must go on. India must launch other Agnies, and bombs, develop supercomputers indigenously and advance magically in the field of laser technology – all this is science and technology. But the rule that the bombs and missiles must be used to prevent wars and not commence one or computers can be used to give farmers rich crops or laser beams should be used to cure diseases and not harm others – this is religion. That we have developed trains is science and technology but that trains are public property, that trains have to be kept clean or train service should be taken to the masses is religion. In fact, science and religion are two sides of the same coin.
Bertrand Russell championed the cause of science and mathematics all his life but at the age of eighty the scientific soul burst forth –
One must agree with Russell that if one has that precious pearl called love, one has all religion with him,
Thus, clearing all fog of vagueness, religion must be interpreted in the real from. One is reminded of the exotic words of Swami Vivekananda,
So one who rises above him self, feels the pain of others tries to help them, think of the general goods is a religious person.
Thus a person who takes the responsibility of public immunization or who teaches the children of the maid servant is a religious person. How can such a person be any hurdle in the path of science and technology?
The point is that religion must exist and perform its vital duties in the scientific and technological age of ours. Let it be clear for once and for all that chattering 'mantras' decorating one's forehead with vermillion, rising and sitting in different positions five times a day in order to offer 'namaz' or even the modern style of fanatically calling the name of some self ordained god, pursuing and forcing others to follow him - all this and much more has nothing to do with religion; it is anti-religion. There can be no mediatory class of priests and pundits between the individual and his God. God only loves. There is no God who punishes us with the fire of hell for our evil deeds.
Let us, therefore say that in this age of science and technology, the dread of venereal diseases ever increasing with new and fatal chemical drugs, with nuclear weapons threatening the existence of creation, religion with its lessons of discipline and purity has become humankind's destiny.
All this ritualism, we must know, is not the core of religion. Religion and God are abstract ideas. For the common man, it is not possible to realize and live the abstract ideas of goodness or virtues. Thus he has evolved through the ages certain physical symbols whose presence brings to his mind all good ideas notions. Even where idolatry is prohibited, symbols and idols have slowly crept in. After all what are Lord Ram or Lord Krishna but symbols of goodness, righteousness and justice! Muslims, who do not believe in idolatry theoretically, imagine the temple of Caaba while offering 'namaz' and hold the black stone of the temple of Caaba to be specially powerful and sacred and like to drink water of the well of Zimzim just and Hindus crave for the Ganga Jal. So their Lord is the temple of Caaba, their symbol of high values, similarly, Protestants, non-idolaters theoretically, consider Church to be more sacred than other places and again yield to idolatry.
In the culminating years of the twentieth century one cannot help having almost a sacred trust in science and technology. An ideal picture of world can be built only with the help of science and technology. If our country is to survive and thrive, we must take the latest of our scientific and technological comforts to the masses. Above all there must be inculcated a deep scientific, rational and objective thinking among the people. And yet, at is best all this is but half of the story. Let us, for some moments be unbiased ourselves. Just as fanatics go for religion, we, the modern folk go for science and technology. Science and technology is no 'mantra' that having recited it hundred times a day, we will get a society that we desire. We must evaluate science and technology and its multiple effects critically. Let us look at the alien models – the society that the highly scientific lands like America, Japan, France or Britain have developed. There are all modern comforts available right from personal computers to supercomputers, from cycles to airplanes. It is all so glamorous, prosperity flows on the streets. Everyone has car. Houses are richly carpeted.
Religion is light. Religion is awakening. Religion is inspiration. Religion is that tablet which vitalizes us, refreshes us makes us act, and kindles a desire in us to serve others. Religion gives us the sense of universal brotherhood. In short, religion makes us what we proudly say we are- human beings. Here is the translation of a famous Sanskrit couplet –
Similarly, we have also to think about the negative impressions of science. There are serious problems that science has created like atmospheric pollution and technological waste. When a new factory is built, first there is ceremonial worshipping and then all the factory waste is continuously poured down in the life giving rivers of the land. In this jungle of concrete buildings and factories, what we need is trees and fresh air. Perhaps that is why religion asks us to worship trees and water them duly and worship rivers and keep them clean.
Psychologically, this age of science and technology has weakened the individual and his self-confidence rather than boosting him. With the help of science, where on one hand the world has become a small village, the individual has become a non entity. One individual counts for nothing. In an office or a factory or the world as a whole, one man is not even an ant. If he wants to do something genuine or bring some changes, he finds himself helpless. In this mammoth machinery of the world, the individual has lost the sense of self dignity and importance. Them another psychological factor is the self – encasement of the modern man.
We should think what type of generations we are producing. Electronic inventions in the form of television and video have turned our homes into complete picture halls. The effects of cinema are definitely going to be disastrous. Specs-eyed generation, full of drug- addicts and AIDS patients will play the drama of final calamity. This is not an exaggeration. Slowly but surely we are moving towards final downfall. If we have any capacity to learn from others' experience, let us open our eyes wide and see what is happening across the continents. We should not aim at such a society where immorality, corruption, hatred and diseases are the dictums of the day. No science and no technology can teach us the lesson of purity, discipline and benevolence.
It is true that religion in the modern times has been debased like anything. But from time to time we have had our Shankaracharyas and Vivekanandas who have presented religion in its true self and have explained its necessity. It is a known fact that the greatest scientists like Einstein, Newton and Ramanujan have been the greatest of theist as well. In fact almost all true scientists are deeply religious because they realize the limits of science very well. If science is energy, religion is matter. If science is soul, religion is body. All science and technology will negate its own purposes if not duly co-operated by religion.
But these self-ordained contractors of religion, this well organized machinery of pundits and pundits must be removed. They have done their best to defame the noblest of all ideas i.e. the idea of religion. In fact, it is a profession like any other profession where bluffing and cheating are the professional arts. The way these professionals extort money from the ignorant masses will always stand a witness against the religiosity of this class. True religion never says that even if an evil soul stands or sits in different positions, drinks the so called holy water, donates money to these pundits, spreads different colored powders here or there, all his sins will be pardoned. These things must be discarded. As Koran itself states, “Every age has its book.” Being scientific we must not endure corrupt practices in the name of religion. Let us follow that religion which teaches us action, which tells us that individual is not a puppet in the hands of unknown powers but is a creator of his destiny. In Bible God commanded Adam, “In the sweat of the face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." We also remember the well known words of Lord Krishna, “Action is thy duty, and reward is not thy concern."
Lord Christ loved and saved a degraded woman who was going to be stoned to death- this is the spirit of religion. Prophet Mohammad said that one will receive more blessings from God if one educates the uneducated rather than offering 'namaz' –this is the spirit of religion. Guru Nanak, instead of guarding his farm, allowed the birds to eat as much crops as possible because both the farm and birds were of Ram and so there was little sense in stopping the birds from eating grains-this is the spirit of religion. One of the greatest souls ever born, Mahatma Gandhi, about whom Einstein's famous words must always be remembered ("Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.") this Gandhi, whenever entered a village or town or any other place, first rushed to the locality of the untouchables and stayed there only - this is the sprit of religion.
We should know what the stories of reincarnations of God or sons and messengers of God signify. It is not significant whether Lord Ram really lived or not, what matters is what does the story of his life mean, what it stands for and why it has lived through ages. For instance, Lord Krishna seems to present goodness justice and love accompanied by a life of exuberance and joy. Lord Ram, on the other hand may symbolize the achievement of the very same ideals – goodness, purity, justice, public welfare and love, accomplished by a life of limits, a life demonstrating highest ideals. Similarly Lord Christ may symbolize a life of simplicity, trust and innocence embellished with the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the human race.
Now, these ideals, if followed by and large by the masses can only boost the age of science and technology. These ideals can convert the age of science and technology into a permanent heaven. While on one hand scientific and technological forces may invent new laser techniques and superconductors, religion may tell the proper use of these means. The place of religion in the age of science and technology cannot be questioned, it is obvious. Likewise the place of science and technology in a religious society cannot be undermined. These two forces dwell deep in human consciousness. As our two legs cannot walk if they are forced to go in opposite direction, human race cannot proceed on its path of glory if these two powerful forces are separated or treated as antagonists. We must develop a life style where both science and religion form the essence of an individual's life.
Finally one cannot give a better conclusion to this essay than given years back by the great mathematician philosopher, scientist and theist, Bertrand Russell -
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Comments on this Article
Prof. Shubha Tiwari
11/07/2011 23:58 PM
11/07/2011 08:46 AM