Science and Religion

English Essay on "Science and Religion"

Science may be broadly defined as systematic or formulated knowledge of anything. Popularly, however, science means material or positive science, connoting that branch of human knowledge which seeks to solve the mysteries of the universe. Religion means a system of faith in the existence of a superhuman power, supposed to have created universe and all that it contains.

The age of modem science is a little over two hundred years. But religion was born in the time immemorial. Its roots maybe traced to man’s lack of understanding and fearful admiration of the phenomena of Nature. It was then a submission before the awful majesty of the Nature around and its forces — the sun, the moon, the storm, the sea and the likes were all worshipped at random. The concept of “God” or “gods” came much later and was contributed mainly by prophets and preachers. since then religion was born as a “faith” and was identified with the belief in the existence, and submission to the will of the supreme being called God. Hence, religion has been called by Whitehead as “the reaction of human nature to its search of God”. This goes to account for the divergence of religion on earth, though almost all of them seek to establish the sovereignty of the same God.

For hundreds of centuries after its origin, religion had exclusive way over man. Everything which happened, whether mundane or spiritual, was being explained as the doing of God and mankind in general reposed perfect faith in such explanation for want of anything better. Then, about two centuries ago, science came and sought to explain things by attributing causes. Thus began the struggle between religion and science, more correctly, between faith and reason.

It was initially an unequal fight — and religion still holding so powerful sway over the state that it could easily get the champions of science punished as heretics. But nothing could frustrate the onward march of science. In course of a hundred years or so, science came to dominate the realm of thought and judgement so powerfully, by unveiling and explaining in positive terms hundreds of mysteries, that religion had to give way quietly. So reverse is the present position that religion is now standing on its last leg, struggling hard for its survival. The question has, therefore, arisen; What is the relation of science to religion? Are they mutually exclusive? Can they exist side by side or will science ultimately banish religion?

Science and religion may not be mutually exclusive but are definitely antagonistic. Science is Concerned with the material world around us; religion aims at a divine order that lies far above and beyond our Comprehension Science is based on proof and religion stands on faith. Science deals with facts and experiences, while religion deals with entities, unknown, and beyond the range of knowing. Science believes in those things only that can be proved, religion is preoccupied with notions that can never be proved. Science places matter over mind and considers observation and experiment as the only dependable Sources of knowledge while religion ignores matter, adopts mind as its sole foundation and Considers intuition as the final source of knowledge. In short, science and religion are at variance in all the stages of knowledge — premise, finding and Conclusion.

In the background of this antagonism between science and religion, a question is now being asked whether science will kill religion in the long run, particularly when the former is now developing so spectacularly that it may be able in the near future to solve all the remaining mysteries of creation? i do not think science can ever do that. Firstly, all the questions can never be answered by science. Some mysteries about life and death will always remain to baffle man’s wit and imagination. Secondly, the entire humanity can never be educated so highly as to apply science to the many problems that will face it. And the gap will always continue to be filled up by religion which can offer a ready answer and an immediate solace. Thirdly, however highly enlighten man may be, he will yet require some response to the secret and inexpressible cravings of his soul — one which neither religion can prove nor science can disprove. The scholar, the millionaire and the scientist have and will have their respective internal sufferings which material development cannot remove or mitigate. In such moods of hopelessness, man — the greatest and the lowliest alike needs the protection of some superior power who can restore peace of mind and alleviate inexplicable sufferings. Man is a psychic animal whose life does not conform always to a mathematical formula. it is where he finds his reasons baffled, his logic helpless and he keeps suffering without any apparent cause for It, that his mind, out of an urge form within, submits to the power of a being, infinitely superior to him. Thousands of people have found peace of mind and received new hope of life. Religion will exist among such frustrated people, if not among others and their number being not small, religion or no science, religion will never die. The example of Soviet Russia, which restored religion a couple of decades after banishing it, goes to show that man everywhere being basically man made of both body and soul religion will exist on earth, even if the whole world come under the sweep of communism.

What science will do to religion, as it has already done to a large extent, is to demolish its citadel of superstition Religion is already strikingly different today from what it was before the supremacy of science was established. No religion now attributes a natural calamity — a storm or a flood to the nemesis of God, when science has proved that every such calamity has its causes which have nothing to do with the favour or wrath of God. Similarly, as science is developing, it is increasingly bringing religion to its real form, much the same as it had been during its birth. Thus under the influence of science, religion will be remodeled and reshaped, except in fundamentals so as to be capable of performing its due role in the age of scientific reasoning. Religion and science can exist side by side respectively reigning over the spiritual and material worlds of man.

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