Since the time of origin of human race, the one things that have united us, was our diversity. Irrespective of race, creed, cast, religion and even concerned geographic location, human have always the tendency to think independently and differently. This thinking difference has existed not just between immediate neighbours, but also between members of the same family. This difference of attitude, has at times contributed to friction among populace, but has also contributed to development of the human species, from cave dwellers to the modern man.
When humans first appeared in earth (Homo sapiens) almost 200, 000 years ago, the world was a very different place. The ancient man viewed everything with either marvel or fear (The Giant Mammoth ( who could be up to 14 feet tall and weight up to 10 tons or more) were roaming the earth ,along with 10 foot tall relative of Orangutans – Gigantopithecus ; and other giant cats and bears. Thankfully (or not) all these animals are extinct now, but for our ancestors, they must have been a really frightening experience. They chose to react differently to react to it. Some thought, that best way to solve their problem, was to understand it’s nature, so solutions could be obtained. Others thought that, the best way to escape danger was to try their best to avoid the challenges and hope that some miracle would help them survive. Fire, which would burn down forest would be revered as God by some ; and for others, it became a means of self defence and protection from animals. The first scientist and the first believer was born at same time; and was born a conflict, that would survive most of the challenges, that gave rise to these two groups, in the first place.
As the first humans moved out of Africa, they spread into different parts of the world ; division of the human race originated. Slowly Asia emerged as the cradle of civilization. Babylonians, Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians and Indus valley civilization started to give the world a new colour, almost starting simultaneously almost 7000 years back.
started out on the bank of rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, in Mesopotamia (modern day southern Iraq) and were divided into multiple city states. Sumerian civilization’s contribution to history would be immortalized, because it was here that first writing system developed around 3200BC, which soon evolved into cuneiform writing system. A lots of clay tablets have been found giving a detailed information about the time and culture. Scientific advancement took place (along with development of writing) in form of development of wheel, arithmetics, geometry, hammer, chisel ,pins axes and knives, swords and daggers developed. At the same time their religion prospered in the form of Gods like An (sky) and his consort Ki (means earth), Enki ( god of water), Enlil (god of air), Utu (sun god) and Sin (god of the moon).
Started around 3100BC, along Nile river. Glorified by history and modern day entertainment media, Egyptian civilization indeed gave the world, the gift of many wonders. It gave the world valuable gifts like Egyptian hieroglyphs (writing), Great Pyramids, Mummies (and the science of embalming dead bodies – a rare example in ancient world where science of human body preservation was used for religious purpose), Medicinal skills of ancient Egyptian physicians, technology of ancient shipbuilding and mathematical advancement in form of numeral system. At the same time religion was an integral part of the society . Main gods worshipped were – Ra( sun god) ,Geb ( god of earth), Shu (god of air), Osiris (god of underworld ) ,Isis (goddess of magic), Set (god of desert), Anubis (god of funerals) and Bast (goddess of cats).
Started around 3300 BC and would be the only civilization, which has survived in a modified form to this day, in form of Hindu culture, in Indian subcontinent. Indus valley civilization achieved a lots in term of technological advancement. It was here that first weights and measurements were invented. Engineering and dentistry skills was very advanced. The well planned cities had the world’s first sanitation system in terms of sewerage and drainage. But religion was an integral part of daily life. Hindu gods and goddess were worshipped freely in the succeeding Vedic period, which also saw remarkable progress in science and other allied subjects like -- Surgery (Ancient Sage Sushruta who lived around 1500 BC, is considered as father of modern surgery ) and flying machines were described in ancient Sanskrit epics like the Great Hindu Epic – Ramayana, where the main villainous character – Ravana, had a flying machine called, Pushpaka Vimana. The ancient Vedas, also describes different kind of flying chariots, for the Sun God and also for Indra, the king of Gods.
As could be clearly seen from the different examples, of different civilization spread throughout the world, in the initial days civilization thrived and prospered, with both religion and science progressing at side by side. Conflict between the two was very little or none in the ancient world. Most of the gods/goddess worshipped by people across civilization, was a human embodiment of a natural force, that people both respected and feared. But as time progressed, and human knowledge (and arrogance ? ) grew, the image of god changed from a natural force to a supernatural entity, living in a heavenly abode. The results starting manifesting in many forms, the most obvious of which in todays world, is the gross destruction of nature and human habitat, and increasing imbalance of the human ecosystem.
The conflict of science with religion is rather a recent phenomena, which started in the second millennium, as religion’s proximity to the ruling elite started growing. Nowhere were this phenomenon more observed, than in Europe, which was slowly coming out of dark age, into a period of renaissance. With the rise of a new intelligentsia, the church found it’s authority challenged, and it’s reaction in most cases, was to subdue any opposition ,by whatever means available. Some of the notable persecutions noted in history are
He was a very well known Spanish physician of his time, credited with the discovery of pulmonary circulation. Unfortunately, besides being a scientist, he was also an avid writer, who had written many books, which managed to antagonise many powerful people of the time and went against the classical teachings of church. He was burnt alive in Geneva on 27 Oct 1553.
A Italian mathematician and a astronomer gave the revolutionary concept that stars are distant suns, which may have planets of their own and these planets could possibly harbour life. Unfortunately his teachings went against classical views held by the church, and was burned at the stake on 17 Feb, 1600.
An astronomer from Italy, he supported the fact that Earth revolves around the sun. His views went against the Christian authorities of his time, and he spent rest of his life under house arrest, where he died in 1642 , and even after death he was not allowed to be buried alongside his father and ancestors.
One of the recent addition to the list, is the English computer scientist – Alan Turing, who is credited with breaking the code of “Enigma Machine” – which was used by Nazi Germany, for important secret communications, in second world war ; thereby singlehandedly contributing greatly to the victory of the allied forces. But unfortunately soon afterwards, it was proved ; that Alan Turing was a homosexual, which was a crime at that period and was chemically castrated. After a period of suffering from serious side effects, On 7 June, 1954 he committed suicide. There were other incidences also, which did not end in such a terrible note, but also worth mentioning. When Charles Darwin, gave his theory of evolution, he was criticised by many. Many people believed that humans could not have evolved from monkeys, and if it did, then that would have been only Charles Darwin’s family line.
We live in a society where everything is seen in black or white. If things are not good, then they are bad. Quite often instead of understanding the problem, we try to shift the blame.The pertinent question, which comes to the mind, keeping the above situations in view is, was it religion, which was responsible for death and destruction of the above mentioned good people and many like them ? Or it was the associated power, which was challenged and it’s authority threatened. It has to be kept in mind that – Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best. It has been seen, that in recent years, influence of religion has decreased tremendously in western Europe, with many churches closing down; as an enlightened millennials blame the church for the injustice that has been committed in the name of religion, in a period gone by. But the fine point being missed, is that it was handful of people, hiding behind the façade of religion, who were perpetrators of these wrongdoings. As Mark Twain, later said “ So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from Gospel – You shall be indifferent to what your neighbour’s religion is. Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it”.
There are numerous accounts in history and epics where religion and science has overlapped some how. In ancient Egyptian mythology, ATUM, was considered to be the first god, from whom other god arose. In modern science, ATOM, is the smallest unit of an element; which combines to form a molecule, from which everything is derived. Remarkable coincidence. Robert Oppenheimer – father of atomic bomb, who was instrumental in development of atomic bomb, that was used in bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after their successful test in New Mexico, quoted the famous lines, from the Hindu religious Epic, Bhagvad Gita – “ Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds”. This quote has been interpreted differently by different people. Some say he was quoting, the nuclear war, that has been mentioned in the Hindu Mythology Epic, Mahabharata (Gita) and believed that it indeed had happened ; and some belief that he was just speaking in much more, practical philosophical sense. But it is indeed remarkable, that a nuclear physicist , entrusted with creation of atomic bomb, would be quoting religious text, of a religion, which was not his own.
Josef F Blumrich was a senior scientist, working for NASA, who once came to know about , description of spaceship in Bible, more accurately in Book of Ezekiel ( in old Testament - where six visions of Prophet Ezekiel is recorded during 593 to 571 BC) after his meeting with astronaut theorist and Ufologist- Erich Von Daniken, who informed him about the subject. In this Book, there is description that Prophet Ezekiel may have come across extra-terrestrial spacecraft descending from sky, which he described precisely. As a scientist, Josef Blumrich, was sceptic about religion and set out to disapprove these stories.
But the more he researched on the subject, the more the facts perplexed him. He came to the conclusion, Ezekiel had indeed described advanced technology. Ezekiel had described wheeled vehicle coming down from sky, surrounded by dark clouds, and accompanied by flashes of lightening and extreme bright lights. Blumrich finally managed to create an omnidirectional wheel from Ezekiel’s description. In 1974, Blumrich was issued a patent for omnidirectional wheel, from United States patent Office. He also wrote a book titled – “The Spaceships Of Ezekiel “. These whole incident, does raise difficult question, does the Bible indeed describe advanced technology, in an ancient world ??
It has been said about one of the greatest humanitarian to have ever lived - Mahatma Gandhi, as a child, was afraid of dark but it was Lord Ram’s (A famous Hindu God) name that gave him courage & which gave him guidance, throughout his life. One of the greatest visionary of our times -Elon Musk has also said – “ When I was a little kid, I was really scared of the dark. But then I came to understand, dark just means the absence of photons in the visible wavelength – 400 to 700 nanometres. Then I thought, well it is really silly to be afraid of a lack of photons. Then I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore after that.” Two legends of modern era; one an icon of 20th century and the other a trendsetter of 21st century – both found solution to a common problem, in a different way, but for a common goal; one through faith and religion and another through science.They both have contribute tremendously towards human growth and progress.
So finally it is quite obvious that, both science and religion have their limitations and their strong points . Most probably, that is the reason that the greatest brain of 20th century and one of the greatest scientist to ever live – Albert Einstein, who gave the famous statement – “ SCIENCE WITHOUT RELIGION IS LAME, RELIGION WITHOUT SCIENCE IS BLIND”