Wednesday, January 14, 2009

RELIGION AND SCIENCE

RELIGION AND SCIENCE

Albert Einstein, the renowned scientist, once remarked, "Science without religion is LAME; Religion without science is BLIND." This suggests that both religion and science are necessary for human progress. They are complementary. They are not contradictory.
The relationship between religion and science has created considerable controversy throughout history. Four basic approaches have been adopted:
1…Only science is true; Religion is false: This is the view of atheists who deny the role of religion. Science cannot have a human touch without accepting the role of religion.
2…Only religion is true; Science is false: This is the view of certain theologians who are blind to the realities discovered by science. Modern man finds this view unacceptable.
3…Religion and science are independent and unrelated: This view was held by theologians and scientists who were not proficient in the other system. This view caused difficulties in co-operation between religion and science.
4…Both religion and science are correct and are complementary: This approach resolves many controversies and misunderstandings between religion and science.
The fourth approach assumes that religion and science are complementary or alternative ways of approaching the same truth. Since there can be only one truth, there cannot be any controversy between the two approaches. When the two paths to the same truth are used together, the path becomes wider and results are reached faster.
To cite an example, the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible describes the creation of the world. Light (energy) was created on the first day. Matter was created from the second day. Matter, including the earth, is composed of over one hundred different chemical elements. The first man was created by God from soil: "Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; He breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live" {Genesis 2:7}. It is the duty of the scientists to analyse the mysteries of creation. The scientists have analysed the human body and found that it is composed of twenty two different types of chemical elements in definite proportions - eleven in large amounts (bulk elements) and eleven in traces (trace elements). The bulk elements in man are: calcium, carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, magnesium, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. The trace elements in man are: chromium, copper, cobalt, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon and zinc.
A mere mixture of these elements does not make living matter. The 'soil' which God used to make the model of man can be interpreted to mean the combination of these twenty two selected chemical elements found in the earth. When 'life' is instilled into this non-living matter, it becomes a living organism (man). But only God can infuse life into the inanimate mixture of elements created by Him before the creation of man. The summary is:
11 bulk elements + 11 trace elements + Life = Living Man
After death the living body decays and the elements return to the earth: "You were made from soil, and you will become soil again" {Genesis 3:19}.
Though the Bible is not a text-book of science, it reveals the truth as it is inspired by God, the Creator, the only person who knows all the truths in full. He has given man the intelligence and capacity to explore God's creations. Hence the truth about creation cannot be different from what science has proved, by experiments, observations and intelligent inferences. The descriptions in the Bible may be viewed as presentations of scientific truths in a style that could be easily understood by the people of the period when the Book was written.
The Universe is like an open book, spread out before us by the Creator. It is a treasure-house revealing the majestic, miraculous and mysterious works of an infinite intelligence, God. Looking at the exquisite elegance and harmonious variety of nature, including the beauty of butterflies and the fragrance of flowers, poets and scientists have praised the glory of the Creator. Let us read the book of nature, with a sincere vision and a genuine mission to learn the truth. The truth shall enlighten us.
The great poet of Malayalam, Mahakavi Kumaranasan, in his famous poem entitled, “PSALM” (സങ്കീർത്തനം) says,
“ചന്തമേറിയ പൂവിലും ശബളാഭമാം ശലഭത്തിലും
സന്തതം കരതാരിയന്നൊരു ചിത്രചാതുരി കാട്ടിയും
ഹന്ത! ചാരുകടാക്ഷമാലകൾ അർക്കരശ്മിയിൽ നീട്ടിയും
ചിന്തയാം മണിമന്ദിരത്തിൽ വിളങ്ങുമീശനെ വാഴ്ത്തുവിൻ.”
These wise words may be translated as:
“In the blooms very beautiful and in butterflies which are beauteous,
Ever showing the artistry of His skilful hands which are marvellous,
And extending His kindly gaze through the brilliant rays of the blazing sun,
Praise the God who resides and shines in the mansion of human reflection.”
(Translator: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip)


Dr. Babu Philip, Professor of Biochemistry, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.
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