January 10, 2017

Science & Religion

A while ago, I got a chance to talk to a Guru and our conversation spanned in a variety of topics; religion and science being the primary.

The Guru claimed to have several one-to-one session with a Goddess, known by the name of ‘Devi’ and following from his words, it seemed kind of a private session. He said that he is never aware of what actually goes during the session but happens to speak the exact words whispered into his ears. Interestingly, the case isn’t that different from what happens with Gurus of other faiths. Being reminded of Rushdie’s satire whether it was a Satan’s verse, I put my point and asked if he was in deep hallucination because coming from his words, and several conceits that he already managed to make, it was seemingly obvious that he was an egoist, a kind of megalomaniac.

I was so curious to know more about the private session, especially because I wasn’t destined to have one. The all I was doing was trying to make sense of what the Guru said and I was doing it genuinely. As it was quite apparent that I wasn’t liking his dictums, he questioned me ‘what is the Earth held up by?’ very enthusiastically like it was apophatic.

I started off, explained Newton’s laws and the origin of gravity as a force due to mass of a body, and was next to starting Einstein as I was trying to make him understand why the Earth doesn’t need anything but gravity to be held up in space. He couldn’t resist his temptation but to say ‘Wrong! You know nothing about it’. I was bewildered and appreciated Einstein for ‘only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,……….’ The surprise didn’t stop any sooner when the Guru said quite confidently that the Earth is held on water. And it was at this point I realized Einstein’s quote needs an add-on to particularly address lunatics.

It’s a fact that the Earth is a planet that revolves around the sun in its elliptical orbit and is held by nothing but the mutual force of gravity. Many of us still might find it comfortable to accept the pre-seventeenth century proposition like the one proposed by Guru but our acceptance that something is true (or false) isn’t going to do any justice. If seeing with our own eyes is what we would consider the criterion for something to be true, then a lot of astronauts -who were kind of destined to be cherry-picked for space flight- have seen enough of it to know the truth. Just because we aren’t destined enough to be considered by that Divine sight, doesn’t mean such a glaring view of nothingness doesn’t exist at all.

It is also a fact that what we think of Earth isn’t going to make any difference except in our psyche. It isn’t possible that our thoughts about something manifest physically except in the complex neural associations in our brain. Does that mean we can take advantage of this irony and keep on hallucinating even when we aren’t?

Science is the rational inquiry into the nature of things and if it would be possible to actually know the true nature of things without being rational, science would not have been born because any mumbo-jumbo inquiry would reveal nothing but the true nature of things. But let us relieve of this nonchalance to focus on what science is in real. Science is a method that has to be employed, a system that has to be followed in order that true nature of things is revealed.

Basically, what the Guru was doing was being curious because it wasn’t that he never cared about the world. He was asking question, possibly the right one but the problem with his inquiry was that it was a creepy one. As can be evidently seen, he made common sense his friend and never ever bothered to doubt it. He didn’t even bother to think whether what he spoke was true because such would be a disbelief upon his Devi. She grants him enough freedom to coerce the reality by speaking like a lunatic, the boundary condition of whose would be to attribute the Devi for every miraculousness –even if it be not that miraculous at all.

He could have reasoned next “If the Earth was held up by water then, what is water held up by?”, argued to himself and ultimately following through the road of reason would have reached where science have taken us but that is not going to happen, not anytime soon because if that would be possible, some order of rationality in terms of public opinion would have been visible already and the number of thugs and lunatics would have decreased contrary to what is observed in real. A religion or a God-haunted mind is such a strange thing to see. Instead, he would argue that ‘the water was divine and held on nothing but space’. Had he bothered to ask, ‘If the Earth wouldn’t sink in water?’, his religious directive would give an immediate answer like this, ‘Why the Earth didn’t sink was a miracle and it was the whim of his Devi’, or could have said, ‘The God in the form of Devi held the Earth on her hands, or on her head or wherever (why should we even care?)’.

Many people seem to make a good impression of being intrigued by the elegance of nature and put forward that the world should have to be designed for this array of diversities to exist amid such an elegance. But they turn deaf as to how the god -complex enough to create such a perfect world- can come into existence without being created in the first place. What a fashionable way to stay foolish?

It is true that what the Guru thinks about Earth, is not going to make any difference to the Earth or to the universe but it will undoubtedly make a difference in our society. It might be that it is common for our common sense to be duped by voices of unreason. It might be that we have no genetic code to be competent for enduring transitions that is up for future. May be, when global warming hits up to the point that it threatens our life, Devi would silently whisper in his ears, ‘Don’t worry! I work in mysterious ways’. But here comes a joke that has to be made. Had the Guru been on a one-to-one session with Devi and suddenly, an earthquake hit up, and Devi wasn’t there. The frightened Guru shrieked ‘what now Devi?’. ‘Run!!! Idiot!’ came the reply and it was not a silent whisper but a bang enough to obliterate the history.

The idea of science may be boring to many people especially when contrasted with religious claims and speculations which have so much to offer. Religion is more like selling answers that people want to hear. More than anything, it offers an omnipotent, benevolent god who loves us very much, never ever caring if it is true; it offers us some purpose of life –no matter whether we concur or not- and provides us a panacea to all questions that we can be conscious of. Religious apologists speak all about love and compassion of a merciful creator that people from a psychological standpoint are more willing to hear. Surprisingly, they speak with such a brazen confidence that even the most pursuant of truth are easily fooled by their arguments.

Religion is like saying ‘Don’t think too much, don’t bother to ask questions. God will take care of everything. He loves you and he wants you to be happy’. If the one isn’t impressed enough to surrender to the god by such comforting words, religions immediately turn to their second part ‘If you don’t surrender to this almighty God, he is going to damn you in an eternal hellfire.’

On the other hand, science has no direct witnesses or revelations (in a religious sense) that we can entertain ourselves with. Scientists who devote their whole life studying nature are too honest in their opinions and try to explain even the least possible fallacy with sincerity and logic that everyone can see by themselves. A scientist speaks with skepticism over his own theories and is posed with a never-ending task of reconciling his otherwise logically inconsistent theories to a certain framework so that they make better sense. A scientist doesn’t try to infuse some directives to us like in a religious sense. But religious apologists speak of things as though they witnessed it all by their own eyes and explain everything from the origin of the universe to the reproduction of honey bees wholesomely by bringing in some divine intervention.

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