The Scientific Indian

Religious Faith is Hopeless

A fundamental difference between religious faith and science pertains to hope. Underlying religious faith is the belief that God knows everything and controls everything. In any religion, human capacity is at best subservient to God’s will. This is a sorry state to be in for any human. Religious faith takes away any hope of advancing one’s own understanding of the world. It takes away purpose from our lives. God is hopelessness and purposelessness deified.

Science, on the other hand, is squarely aimed at furthering our understanding of the world. It is eternally hopeful of advancing our knowledge using our very own resources. Science is the courage to stare the world in its face and ask serious questions. Science gives hope and purpose to our lives.

Religious faith is untenable when we are truly and nontrivially hopeful. I’ll take science anyday for hopeless religion.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Belyea
    November 18, 2006

    Ah … well, that certainly defines things for all people for all time. Thanks for straightening that out.

    Surprising how many people (some of them more intelligent and insightful than me, and perhaps even one or two (dare I say it) more so than you) could have been so deluded over so many years …

  2. #2 Dinesh
    November 18, 2006

    Religion is to nurture a person’s behaviour, character. It has been bent and demeaned by dogma. Religion and Science can co-exist in a person. It only has to do with what one’s thought about Religion is. If Religion is worshipping an idol alone then it isn’t. The word God was coined by man, or did God coin it ? if so how do we define God then ? In a simple sentence, God is what you believe in at the moment. That’s why God is said to be present everywhere. If you believe in Science, then Science is your God. God is where belief is. You believe in love, then that is your god. Religion is to build hope in this way. Acts of Barbarism in the name of Religion has only led intellectuals and rationalists to think of it the other way. Religion is a guide to life, it is beyond worshipping a figure. You need not go to church and you can still be following a religion. Religion is to build hope.

  3. #3 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 19, 2006

    Surprising how many people (some of them more intelligent and insightful than me, and perhaps even one or two (dare I say it) more so than you) could have been so deluded over so many years …

    Mr. Belyea, find a textbook on philosophy or logic, one with a glossary in the back. Look up Argumentum Ad Populum.

    Religion and Science can co-exist in a person.

    Sure they can. Oil and water can also co-exist in the same bottle. That doesn’t mean they are compatible in any meaningful sense of the word.

    If you believe in Science, then Science is your God.

    That is an extremely silly statement. I believe in artichokes. I’ve actually seen artichokes. Artichokes are not my God. You should define your words before you use them. Hobbes ran on at length about this. It helps to prevent you from descending into such silliness.

  4. #4 Dinesh
    November 20, 2006

    Great, That’s exactly what I meant. Religious literatures have been tampered so much that people like you and me start to think of Religion and Science as Oil and Water. In Hinduism, Ancient Vedas seems to be having mentions of Black holes and Supernovas. That’s before christ, way before! Is that just a coincidence? I also learnt from my school teacher that Upanishad has been doctored so much that the real copy of it is nowhere available. The core of Upanishad (way of life) seems to be based on science. Of course i have no proof of all these, or probably I am being fooled by someone with misinformation, but it is my strong belief that Religion is born where science was and they are related. Religion as we see now is not what I have in mind.

  5. #5 schizo
    December 1, 2006

    “In any religion, human capacity is at best subservient to God’s will. This is a sorry state to be in for any human”

    While I agree that science gives us purpose in life, I don’t see a continuous chain of thought in your arguments. Or are you just declaring? Either way, If there is a god and he is defined as an all knowing and all powerful being being “held in his hand” and being subservient to his will seems like a wonderful thing. Like a child holding his fathers hand when they cross a busy street.

    Of course the whole point is, if…

  6. #6 From so simple a beginning
    December 19, 2006

    Dinesh:In Hinduism, Ancient Vedas seems to be having mentions of Black holes and Supernovas.

    From whatever little I know of Vedas and Blackholes, I do think you are grossly misinformed. Do you have a particular verse in mind* ? Or is it one of those folklores from people who’ve never read vedas or general relativity ?

    *See whether you can locate it here for a start- and if you consider the versions there inaccurate I would be more than glad to be directed to more accurate sources..

    I also learnt from my school teacher that Upanishad has been doctored so much that the real copy of it is nowhere available.

    Hmm ? Upanishad’s have been doctored ? That’s a new thing I’m hearing – what is usual is for people to say that a lot of upanishads are lost. There is a long history of “upanishad bhashyas” for atleast the eleven major upanishads. Any theory of “doctoring” should be consistent with that history.

    The core of Upanishad (way of life) seems to be based on science.

    In what sense ? Most upanishads are filled with philosophical assertions and arguments. Apart from broad guidelines like “satyam vadah”(speak truth) they never worry much about defining a way of life (as much as rest of vedas do). And even if they did, I wonder what kind of “science” would go behind it ?

    With all due respects, sir, your “strong” belief is worthless if it is not supported with evidence and rooted in reality – what I see behind your comment is a good-natured curiosity that we all share and I definitely respect that. But in this age of google, one atleast expects people to check their claims before they write something….

    It is one thing to live with a fuzzy feeling of everything being in harmony and it’s another thing to actually learn what science (and religion) have to say.

    And it’s quite another to really understand how exhilarating it is to be in this age of ever-expanding frontiers of science ..

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