Whatever has been said or written about science and religion by eminent scholars, philosophers and scientists suggests that they are by and large antagonistic schools of thought and action. This view is based on the following facts:
The scriptures say that life including human beings has been created by God. The scientists like Darwin propounded the theory of evolution proving that man evolved through a process of biological changes. Science deals with material aspect of the world while religion has the element of the supernatural. Science relates the diseases and deformities to bacteria, viruses and deficiencies. Religion calls them the result of actions of our previous births.
Science expresses doubts over the cycle of births and deaths. Religion says that life is not limited to physical world of body and matter. Man is not just a plethora of bones flesh and blood. There is a soul which lives beyond the corporal realms. In short, science does not believe what it does not see.
Why can’t science and religion be complementary instead of being competitive? This is another complex question. Both these aspects of human mind have shaped human life in their own way.
It is an accepted fact that human life has not seen more changes in any other period than the twentieth century. The development of science and technology has totally changed the life of people. The industrial revolution changed the modes of production. The new inventions made manufacturing, transport and trade easier and widespread. Trade relations paved the way for more interaction between various groups and nations.
Newer methods of communication brought the world closer. Small and big machines became an inseparable part of human life. Engineers, industrial gadgets, trains, cars, buses, aeroplanes, ships, TVs, computers, ACs, mobile phones and artificial fibres revolutionised the living style. Developments in the field of medicines, therapy, survey and immunization overcame deadly diseases and controlled the frightening epidemics. Man felt more secure, safe and healthy. The life expectancy doubled in almost every country.
Man’s mastery and dominance over the physical world has almost wiped out his fear of the unknown. He has started called many spiritual realities as mere superstitions. He has no time for meditation and worship and no penchant for penance. Most of religious activities are considered by him a mere wastage of time. Emotions hold little value in today’s material world. Science and religion for these reasons cannot become complementary with each other.
What has human mind exchanged for material development? This is perhaps the most important question facing human body. Today’s man thinks that he has overpowered everything in this universe. But the reality is that in the long run, he seems to be losing everything. This can be proved as follows: The material development has sown the seeds of pollution which may destroy the world one day. The toxic gases in the atmosphere are increasing day by day with the release of smoke from industries, vehicles and households.
The industrial and chemical wastes are constantly being released into water bodies. The garbage is being dumped in oceans. The jungles are being recklessly cleared to get timber, other exploits and land to set up more industries and housing colonies. All these polluting processes have been triggered like a ticking time bomb which cannot be diffused. The only difference is that instead of destroying everything in one explosion, they are destroying slowly but surely. These polluting processes which are on, since the last century, coupled with global warming, destruction of ozone layer and excessive greenhouse effect will ultimately have catastrophic results. Whatever is being done to check, it is too negligible to save the world.
This is but one distressing aspect of science. There are two more, and as serious. The scientific inventions have led to the creation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) like nuclear bombs, biological and chemical warfare which can wipe out the entire population of the world many times over. Scientific developments have made it possible for countries to keep large armies. Today’s wars are deadlier and fiercer. The automatic weapons like stem guns, mines and rocket launchers and explosives have made every corner of the globe vulnerable to the threat and strike of terrorism.
The acts of terrorists have become far more destructive, lethal and dangerous. It is an irony that these threats pale into insignificance when compared to the destruction caused in the World Wars I and II. R.B. Fosdick in his A Treasury of Science expresses his deep concern over the dropping of atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His concern is over the death, destruction and diseases caused by the nuclear fallout. To use his own words “August 6, 1945-the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima-brought home to all of us in dramatic fashion the significance of science in human life.
The impact of that bomb has left us stunned and confused. Certainly, we laymen are frightened by science as we never were before. And certainly too, we are bewildered by the power which science has suddenly placed in our laps-bewildered and humbled by our realisation of how unequipped we are, in terms of ethics, law and government, to know how to use it.” It is a tragic irony that the power of science has endangered the very life of human beings on this planet. With the kina of military might and arsenal that a large number of nations of the world possess, it is not difficult to guess what would happen if there is a Third World War. It is, therefore, imperative that scientific research and innovations are not only linked but controlled by humans and constructive purpose. The value of self-discipline and universal brotherhood which is the hallmark of every religion assumes greater significance today and the days to come.
Science has no doubt, brought all-around material progress in every aspect related to human life. Today, we are living amidst comforts and luxuries which were beyond the imagination of our ancestors. But, at the same time, it has made our attitude materialistic, calculative and ruthless. According to Bertrand Russell, competition is the key to the modern day society. Man wants happiness which is derived from competitive advantage. Man’s real happiness does not come from the consumption of goods but from outshining others.
He shifts to a larger house, sends his children to an expensive university or buys a gallery of modern paintings without being able to tell one painting from the other only to outdistance others in society. This materialistic attitude has isolated human beings in their own chambers. There is hidden discontent, monotony and tension. The pure and fine aspect of true emotions in interpersonal relationship is missing. By and large, the world has become a place where ends justify the means.
There is a consensus of opinion that science has brought material progress but happiness is eluding us because we are chasing the mirages instead of being satisfied with the truth of human mind and spirit through meditation and fellow feeling. If we do not allow science to sweep us off our feet and uphold moral and spiritual values, our future can be in right direction.