Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Science and religion:Open-ness is a quality of a an uncluttered mind; prejudice a preorgative of a narrow vision.
Two popular myths about religion and science - that one demands blind faith and the other has logic and logical approach alone as its basis - betray a certain lack of understanding of both. Some of the finest moments of science belong to the realm of inspiration rather than logic while some of the greatest revelations in spiritual progress have been the result of persistent inquiry. Neither religion in its highest form nor science in its essence relies on an unquestioning obedience to dogma. But the followers of pop-versions of each discipline are ever so eager to reject the other out of hand and run each other down.Some of the greatest scientists of the world have taken the frontiers of their pursuit beyond the world of logic; almost all religious visionaries have battled against prejudice and popular versions of religion, ridiculing and rejecting prevailing beliefs and rituals.The journey has not stopped. The problems of prejudice prevail at the popular level only . The greatest minds on both sides have always been free from it. Followers of popular variety religion childishly declare the existence of an autocratic God without having any direct experience of that. Similarly, juvenile enthusiasts on the other side deny religious experience without a scientific basis for their denial. Not even the likes of Guru Nanak and Einstein ever talked about truth with the kind of blind certainty that we normally see in the man on the street.And this is worse: religion is often confused with morality and science merely with inventions of its applied version. Time and again, the Buddha and Kabirs questioned the existing versions of religion and relied on direct experience: and time and again have scientists cautioned against an irrational rejection of any (hypo)thesis about the nature of truth and reality. But half-knowledge about the essentials of science and religion,which is the basis of prejudice among the followers of pop-versions of two of the most exalted pursuits of human mind, has seen a lot of unnecessary and avoidable intellectual bloodshed. A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing. Since both sience and religion are essentially activities of the human mind, both need to be respected. And each can -- and does -- enrich the other. Open-ness is a quality of a an uncluttered mind; prejudice a preorgative of a narrow vision.