One of the most famous scientific conversations consists of a two-line exchange between Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.
His tidy mind repelled by the random equations used in quantum mechanics, Einstein brushed them aside with a dismissive, God doesnt play dice with the universe.
To which his friend and colleague, Bohr, replied in mild reproach, Please stop telling God what to do.
That two of the greatest minds in the history of science should cite the Almighty as an arbiter in a scientific dispute shouldnt cause any surprise to those who see no innate contradiction between the spirit of religion and that of science.
Indeed, far from being in an adversarial relationship, with each seeking to disprove and discredit the other, the two chime elegantly together in perfect harmony.
Both religion and science represent a common search for knowledge about the origin and nature of the cosmos, and our relationship with it.
If there is a fundamental commonality between religion and science, why is it that every so often they are seen to be at irreconcilable loggerheads with each other, as in the case of the ongoing battle between Darwinian Evolutionists on the side of science and Creationists on that of religion?
The answer lies in the concept of dogma, an article of faith that is beyond any doubt or debate. In the predawn of history our forebears interpreted natural phenomena, the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, solar and lunar eclipses, by attributing them to supernatural entities, which had to be propitiated by worshipful ritual and the offering of sacrifices.
Such animistic rites helped humans to be in consonance with nature. These practices, and the mythologies which gave birth to them, were a metaphor for the universe, a form of poetry before the invention of the written word.
Such metaphoric interpretations, were a reflection of reality devised to help consciousness focus better on what was being reflected, but over time through repetitive tradition, the reflection came to be seen as the reality itself, the mirror was mistaken for the light, which is does not generate but only transmits. This was the seed from which dogma sprang.
Dogma smothers the spiritual essence, of wonder and awe, which is at the heart of all true religion, and replaces it with mechanistic obeisance. Dogma turns religion into religiosity.
It is dogma that comes into conflict with science, whose guiding principle is that truth is not a destination but a ceaseless quest.
Now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest challenges civilization has ever faced, it is more imperative than ever that science and religion come together to shield from mortal harm both the body and the soul of humanity.
It is with this in view that leaders representing a multiplicity of faiths, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism among others, have issued a joint statement on the vital necessity of recognizing the synergy between religion and science.
Describing religion as the most powerful means of mobilizing the human conscience to serve the common good, the statement has categorically denounced the fanaticism, superstition and contempt for science that are being expressed in the name of religion.
Even as science strives to find a way to stem the fatal tide of the pandemic, salve has also to be sought for the grievous wounds of the spirit.
The essential unity of science and religion has perhaps never been better expressed than by astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, who described his lifework as an attempt to know the mind of God.
Is that science speaking, or religion, or both in one voice?
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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