Faith versus Science

     Many of the available reading matter seems to pitch ‘Science’ and ‘Faith’ on diametrically opposite ends of the field, two philosophies or concepts that cannot match or merge. Faith is built purely on belief and submission, without any solid evidence yet with powerful convictions based on subjective intuitions. Science, on the other hand, is based on accumulated knowledge, tested out and proven by reproducible hypotheses and applied in various situations. The products of science can be duplicated, modified as needed and are made available for the benefit of all. Experience is very individualized, purely personal and practiced in an exclusively private manner.
     Exploring to establish similarities between science and religious faith is perhaps within reasonable postulation. Scientific knowledge and the information derived from educated analysis and inference is available in the open, yet is utilized by only a limited circle, which can comprehend and understand such information. Even though such knowledge is profusely used in a variety of applications for the benefit of humanity, a deeper understanding of science is not required or sought for by most of the consumers. Their lack of curiosity or level of education may be the reason behind such indifference, which nevertheless is a reality that exists. The fact that Newton discovered Gravity or Einstein postulated the theory of Relativity, may not necessarily make an impact to most humans who remain not inquisitive to dwell on those facts in their daily lives. Such a statement can also be made of the religious convictions of those who revere such faith yet do not subscribe to an analysis or inquiry of the details. Scientific theories make only little sense to those who are unable to comprehend them just as much as the religious beliefs make no relevance to those who do not subscribe to accept an entity that is the existence of a god concept. In further explaining the issue, the knowledge that water is a chemical product from the union of two Hydrogen and one Oxygen atoms does not have any impact or importance to someone consuming water to quench his thirst. The radiance of flowers or the greenery of the foliage that embellish our nature can be graciously appreciated even without a trace of understanding of what contributes to the greenness of the leaves or the brilliance of the flowers.
     As we dig deeper into the laws of Physics as they apply to and manipulate our lives, it has been mentioned that these laws as we have been taught and understood as absolute, may not be the whole truth after all. It is brought up by the newer findings that the physical laws that we consider ‘universal’ may be more like ‘local’ bylaws, governing the planet or the surroundings that we inhabit; that these laws may be different from place to place when they are applied on a megacosmic scale. If we can ever visualize a mammoth patch of the cosmos, stretching beyond the limits of our comprehension, then it may be conceivable to have different sets of physical rules that control those different territories. Such a concept, if it can be termed ‘multiverse’, may be subjected to a variety of laws that are controlling various regions of the colossal puzzle. By the same laws, we were chosen and sent to a speck in the whole gigantic game where our life, the human existence, is protected and supported by a certain set of guidelines. Who decides about such an outcome and who manipulates the different crumbs similar or diverse from us in the various corners of the spread of such existence, is for anyone to brood over and come up with own answers?
     In the book ‘Evidence of Purpose’, edited by John Marks Templeton, it is stated that as we pay attention to and become complacent about our limitations as restricted creatures in a vast universe of immeasurable complexity and obscurity, perhaps we can be released from our prejudices of scientific, philosophical or religious nature and open our minds to the ‘great plan’ of which we are all a part. As science has discovered with amazing clarity, the myriad of fundamental explanations about life and the immensity that it is part of, it has also come up with revelations of its own limitations. As more is revealed about scientific rationalizations, more also comes to light about its limitations. Whether there will ever be a convincing, scientific explanation of spirituality and faith that molds our minds to believe in a supreme entity, is beyond anybody’s comprehension at this time. Arguing along the same lines of thought, it will be beyond our guess or even the grasp of scientific concepts, whether evolution will ever take us beyond humans or homo-sapiens to another level or species. For that matter, no science at present can convincingly make a statement as to the existence of such living units in any remote corners of the cosmos.
     If one is able to appreciate the findings of science as it explains the physical and chemical reasoning behind many objects and events as we perceive them, the same courtesy should be offered to admire the existence of a different dimension which donates to such marvels that we are blessed to benefit from. It will be desirable to go further and accept science as which explains the ‘what’ about the happenings as much as the faith consoles one to offer the ‘why’ of the same issues. Perhaps it is conceivable that a day will arrive as human brains continue to gather information will come up with answers about more objects around us and happenings that we perceive. Yet it may elude us that we ever can elucidate all the ‘whys’ about the precise patterns of our existence and the enormity of its significance and purpose.
     A symbiotic application of all the scientific understanding to augment our convictions about religious teachings and in turn, a submission to humble acceptance of the limits of human comprehension will be a comfortable situation amicable to the different factions of the human race. In a similar line of approach, it can immensely benefit humanity and human relationship, if we can instruct our probing minds to adapt and accept the various religious instructions from the diverse philosophies just as we tend to tolerate the ever-changing scientific understanding. As much as we endure newer findings of science, which repeatedly refute and modify old knowledge, it will be so desirable if we are able to bear and even respect the various lines of religious doctrines and preferences.
     No amount of passionate theological submission and no attitude of scientific wisdom and even its proud postulates can distinctly and conclusively explain and establish the precision and legitimacy about life, about the universe, about evolution or creation, about a soul or meaning of life. In fact, we know an infinitesimally small fraction of the truth. What we know or claim to know is mostly conjecture and faith, along with the reports from science that keep changing and adding new knowledge.

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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