Sunday, May 15, 2022

Schism between Science and Spirituality

Two years into a raging pandemic, Corona continues to have most of civilisation in a chokehold. As expected, people haven’t taken kindly to the fact that their prayers, wishes, science-approved vaccines and safety measures have done next to nothing to make it go away. Needless to say, fear, fraying tempers and fraught emotions have come to the fore, creating a toxic climate that claims as many victims as the variants of a virus. 

 People need to present this calamity with a united front and yet, we have seldom been more divided. We can’t agree on whether the vaccines are lifesavers guaranteed to save humanity or a placebo concocted by the pharmaceutical companies to make trillions and profit from collective suffering in collusion with heartless capitalists. The double-jabbed and the vaccine sceptics are butting heads leading to explosive results with World No 1 tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, being the most high-profile casualty. 

The outspoken Novak Djokovic has been one of the most visible vaccine sceptics and his stubborn stance has endeared him to his fans who were infuriated at the public humiliation of a great champion by slimy politicians while earning him the dire wrath of most others. His detractors sought to drown him in a wave of social media-engineered derision, mocking his spiritual beliefs and the pseudoscience he supposedly peddles. 

 This inability to find a middle ground in light of the ever-widening chasm between science and spirituality is our biggest failure in modern times and it needs to be bridged. We must make the attempt to develop a system of knowledge that is free from the fallacies of science and the failings of religion. In the tussle between faith and intellect, neither can hope to subsume the other which is how we have arrived at this hopeless impasse. 

 It wasn’t always this way. Ibn Sina—polymath, philosopher and physician whose innovative theorising in metaphysics elevated the soul to the realm of the intellect—gave the world the Canon, the foundation of modern medicine which was taught as a textbook in Europe and the Islamic lands. Michelangelo was a devout Catholic who risked eternal damnation to perform dissections on corpses to satisfy his scientific curiosity about anatomy which he felt was crucial to enhance his prowess as a sculptor and painter. 

 India’s great mathematicians like Aryabhatta and Brahmagupta managed to find a way to reconcile the demands of their faith with science, making unequalled contributions to the study of numbers even as they gazed upon the stars. These are the giants we must emulate. After all, differences in race, culture and beliefs notwithstanding, diversity is a beautiful thing especially when the divisive elements find a way to beat the odds and coexist in truth and harmony. 

 This article originally appeared in The New Indian Express

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