- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
Science with perspective of religions & various approaches
It is a thought-provoking subject, involving a complete understanding of the two seemingly opposite disciplines. It seems necessary to gain an understanding of the two disciplines in order to comprehend their distinct roles in life.
Science, as is generally understood, is an organized body of knowledge, obtained by observation and testing of facts. Science is the most exact discipline dealing with the natural laws. Science gives us knowledge of natural sciences like biology, geology, physics, chemistry etc. The facts are tested about the physical world and generalizations are derived, based on empirical testing. The laws of science hold true under all conditions provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Science thus yields exact laws relating to natural sciences.
Another name of science is rationality. Its edifice hinges on why and how. Every fact is interpreted in terms of scientific phenomenon. When a society beliefs and ideas. Socieities where science grows, are blessed with a scientific outlook. People have rational ideas and reject straight-away rational beliefs. The use of amulets or charms is abandoned. This happens in primitive socieities where charms are used to ward off the influence of evil forces.
Late Lord Russel is a great admirer of science is the sense that it promotes rational thinking in the people, who try to interpret things in terms of rationality. The yardstick of rationality is applied and that helps dispel irrational ideas and beliefs. Science inculcates in the people scientific outlook, which is necessary to have an objective view of things. Reason triumphs in every walk of life and irrational emotionalism is rejected. The latter doesnot have any scope in a society that wears a scientific outlook. The western society demostrates the spirit of enquiry and rejects beliefs, which cannot be supported by reason and tested on the touchstone of rationality. The third world societies with low literacy rate are prone to irrational beliefs. Most of the people, who are not educated, ascribe the occurence of certain disease to evil forces. The use of charms is popular amongst the ignorant persons, who think that the evil forces can be halted greatly. It is the primitive section of the society that shows this type of thinking. However, with the spread of education, people get away from irrational outlook on life. The educated and enlightened section of our society is influenced by the spirit of independent enquiry. When education takes hold of a society, various kinds of prejudices tend to be shed off, thus paving away to enlightment and rational thinking. Education takes a society to progressive thinking, thereby leading to the dissolution of prejudices.
As far as religion is concerned, it is based on the belief in the existence of a god or gods, who has/have created the universe and give man the spiritual nature, which continues to exist after the death of the body. Religion gives a particular system of faith and worship based on such a belief. Religion is thus founded on belief as described above.
Islam, on the other hand, is called 'Deen', which gives a complete answer to all the problems that believers face in life. It is action-oriented in that it invites the attention of believers to reflect upon the orderliness of the universe, how spatial bodies move within their defined orbits, how with a great precision the working of the universe is regulated etc. God is harmony, which chracteristics the universe. Islam unlike other religions, thus lays a great emphasis on the spirit of enquiry in its own way. True the Holy Quran does not propound scientific propostions rather brings home to the believers realities in an axiomatic manner. Islam thus cannot be compared to other religions like Hinduism that believes in many gods/deities. Islam preaches the unity of God, who alone is powerful, Merciful, and Bemeficient. Islam believes in oneness of God, which belief cannot be tested on the criterion of scientific empiricism. The various beliefs underlying any religion cannot be rationally tested and proved, though their interpretation is possible within the defined parameters of each religion.
We live in a scientific era: the outgoing century saw tremendous development in different fields of technology. The twenty-first century in which Pakistan has already entered is going to witness super developmets of technology. There is no escape from science which has made its impact felt in every walk of life. Hence we cannot close our eyes to scientific developments. If we wish to survive the tough demands of the twenty-first century, then we will have to concentrate on the front technology. We will have to modify the foreign technology to suit our indigenous requirements. The present times demand of Pakistan to pay particular attention to industralization. Pakistan has already achieved a breakthrough in nuclear technology, which further is to be developed and perfected to cope with the requirements of energy and defence. In short we have to accept science as the basis of our economic and technological development. We can’t ignore science. As mentioned earlier, the Quran enjoins upon believers to improve their living condition through research and development and that is possible by giving due importance to science. In the age of Information Technology, we have to keep peace with the developments in the field.
We quote Bertrand Russel who says “Science can confer two kinds of benefits: it can diminish bad things and it can increase good things” (Science and Values)
Science can diminish hunger, misery and increase the longevity of human life by overcoming fatal diseases like yellow fever, tuberculosis, dysentery and other various epidemics. Science can also help abolish poverty to raise the standard of living. To quote Russel ”The growth of industrialism has coincided in the west with the growth of democracy-It use in raising the standard of life has depended mainly upon three things: democracy, trade unionism and birth control”. The observations of Russel are relevant to the west where the three things have occurred as a result of science. The west has developed technology with which it utilize the resources to increase GNP. The developing countries are dependent on the foreign imported technology, which apart from being expensive is capital-intensive in nature. The developing countries need labor-intensive technology, which should help absorb maximum quantity of labor instead of capital. They depend on the western technology, which requires a lot of foreign exchange and that cannot be made available due to poor export performance. The industrialization cannot be speeded up on account of a number of constraints. The use of public health technologies developed in the west is increasingly being felt in the present day developing countries. While the death rate has significantly fallen, the birth rate has risen, yielding a high population growth rate. Economic development has affected birth rate in a number of ways. The effects of development have also been felt in the form of lowering of birth rate in developing countries, but these remain largely confined to elite classes. As for democracy it has entrenched itself in certain developing countries, while in Pakistan it has not stabilized itself so far. The developing countries are benefiting themselves from the experience of the developed countries. Pakistan thus cannot ignore the influence of scientific developments. It must expect science as a force to harness the physical resources for increasing the GDP with the ultimate objective of promoting the welfare of the common man. Despite the opposition from certain obscurantist forces, Pakistan cannot bypass the growing importance of scientific developments. Science has entered into our life. We cannot turn it out from our life.
Although there is no escape from science, yet to run after it blindly is not good. The west has made science the be all and end allof life. Science has given comforts to the people in the west. It has made the living comfortable. People, cater to the material urges, while the inner urges of man. That, of course, is not the subject of science, as it deals with material objects. The latter donot fall within the scope of science. Science has catered to the body of man, but has ignored the other urges of life. There is a Biblical saying that man doesnot live by bread alone. If we run after modern comforts blindly that means we are looking after the body but ignoring spirit. Material comforts are not everything. Despite the availablility of comforts, men may still be dissatisfied. The young men in most of the west europeans are not satisfied with that they get all the modern facilities of living. They use heroin and other drugs. They comeout of their own societies which offer them the best possible comforts of living and live in countries like Nepal, which has only to offer them poverty and wretched living. They excessively use heroin, opium, which could intoxicate them and free them from turmoils of life. This means that something inner remains dissatisfied, which itches the young men to opt for a bad way of living. Use of heroin is a reaction to economic affluence. In other words, dissatisfication with the socieities they live in is quite apparent. Material prosperity is not enough to satisfy people. Something beyond lies economic prosperity, which must be searched for to promote peace of mind and contenment. Science alone cannot bless man with contenment, without which life is immersed in tension. Islam gives the message to belivers that they must improve their living economic condition through the acquisition of honest means. It equally touches the inner self of the belivers by suggesting that every time they should remember their creator who through, his infinite mercies has provided them with every blessing in life. It is through the continual rememberance of God that the tormented soul can seek satisfication and bliss.
Religion has a great role to play in the life of man. It creates humanizing influence of man. The pursuit of religion can help man remove forces of friction in his life. He must sooth his heart through the rememberance of God. The best way to dye the human heart in contenment and happiness is to resort to the remember the name of God. The west has to abandon its partial approach. Material comforts have driven it away from religion.