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Science cannot explain everything; religion can. Discuss.

- Manyu Angrish manyuangrish@gmail.com

Many claim it to be pure melodrama, but a war has been raging since the first civilization established itself between two very influential forces of our lives science and religion, both yielding unfathomable power of creativity and destruction. And though the friction between them has become more subtle, they continue their eternal quest to establish supremacy in the understanding and functioning of our world. One such component of this never-ending conflict is an argument put up by the proponents of religion, generally to undermine the authority and assurance provided by science, that science is clueless about some very important questions of life, which religion claims to have complete knowledge of. Many great scientists are humbled by this finger-pointing against their profession, and way of life, because out of all the mudslinging by religious leaders that science puts up with, this particular accusation does have a ring of truth about it. Science, armed with even the latest technology has nothing but vague theories to the questions of life and death, while religion claims to know it all. However, almost all of these assertions by religion have faced severe intellectual criticism and have been falsified time and again by employing logic and simple reasoning. The very first question of life is that of its origin. While leading scientists merely offer an opinion on this, religious chiefs conveniently point to a religious book or a heavenly stone for all the answers. Acknowledging its current inability to successfully explain the origin of life, science has rightly chosen to focus the majority of its resources on abiogenesis and evolution, while religion has harped on and on about mythical creatures creating earth in the most bizarre ways possible. Whether its the tale of the African God Mbombo, who on experiencing an unbearable stomach ache (so much for omnipotence!) one fine day, vomited the celestial bodies followed by humans, or the more popular Judeo-Christian belief that God created the world in seven days, it is evident to even a moderately intellectual individual that these accounts are fictitious works of a brilliant imagination. In fact Creationists invariably try to put down science by their popular pop quiz that goes something like Have you seen a building without a builder? A car without a maker? before finally ridiculing nonbelievers for accepting a creation without a creator. However, even this argument is fundamentally flawed because it implies that God, our assumed creator is also a creation, and hence cannot be the supreme being of the chain. Therefore, science may not have absolute knowledge of our origin, as of now, but the religious answers, if they can even be called that, lack any credible evidence and have proven to be entirely fallacious. The second question that has puzzled humankind for ages is that of death. Science is not aptly equipped to discover that realm, while religion once again proclaims its supremacy, despite the lack of any credible evidence. By advocating ideas of an after-life, it reduces the value of our present, and

possibly, only life. We have all seen the mind-numbing scenes of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the more recent Mumbai Blasts, by testosterone-sodden Muslim fanatics, who consciously ended their lives and dragged others along, for their seventy two private virgins in the next life. Science, with its current knowledge, tells us that this life is all we have, and therefore, to make its best use so that we may die feeling fulfilled and leave a legacy of goodwill. Ideas of heaven and hell, cleverly crafted to make individuals spend a life without sin, are again nothing but myths and do not give a realistic and rational answer to the question of death. Yet another question that haunts science is its inability to distinguish right from wrong. Proponents of religion rightly argue that science comes with no signposts about good and bad. In fact, it appears that religion scores the maximum, and perhaps the only, points here with its countless moral teachings that make individuals lead a principled life as sensitive and moral human beings. However, modern day atheists rightly refute that the lack of religion has not transformed them into killers, rapists, or otherwise morally challenged individuals. Religion preaches about heaven and hell and enforces religious doctrines, and though proponents of religion may argue that this allows an individual to lead a relatively better life, we must not forget that most, if not all, conscious decisions of a believer are influenced by the fear of eternal damnation. Ignorance on such a grand scale is an absolute abuse of our right to life and truth. Therefore, though pure science has no ethical framework attached to its research and findings, humanity does not need to rely on religion for a moral code engraved in stone. The underlying cause of the decreasing popularity of religion in intellectual circles is its inability to evolve, which is perhaps the greatest strength of science. The once awe-inspiring power of religious doctrines is witnessing a staggering fall, while science meets the challenge head on with diligent hard work and transparent effort. And while all the answers may not be available to us just yet, that is no reason to lose hope and fall back on fantasy. It is here that the confluence of the scientific quest and hope, perhaps the most human emotion, takes place, thwarting religion in its attempts to woo spiritually drained and morally weakened individual into leading a life of ignorance. Science, despite its phenomenal success, humbly accepts that it has barely discovered the tip of the iceberg that our universe is, and in doing so, exhibits its absolute greatness. It is indeed due to its willingness to give each theory a fair chance to establish itself and at the same time making judicious use of logic and reasoning in its everyday functioning that science emerges as our best hope to unfold lifes mysteries. After all, as biologist Richard Dawkins amusingly puts it, By all means let's be openminded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.