Science and Religion: A Quest for Respect

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Scriptures like the Bible or the Qur’an have little to offer for the atheist scientist. The atheist scientist has completely stopped to ask “Why?” questions and finds delight in investigating “How?” things work. He knows emergence, butterfly effects, how complexity may arise from almost nothing, and does not need transcendental explanations for human complexity or afterlife.

However, what has science to offer to people who did not give up “Why?” questions? Whole Zen-Buddhism may be paraphrased as one huge effort to silence unanswerable questions, but reports indicate that it is not so easy. One cannot fill science 101-699 into just everybody, silencing “Why?” completely. Even in postdoctorate circles, linear thinking at times remains remarkably present.

How to silence and relief the nagging whys and fears in those rational beings that have not received the seed of thorough rational-scientific enlightenment, but whose life led them to other shores?

On the other hand, strategies like the Bible or Qur’an, who silence the inquiring, overactive mind by submission and acceptance, no longer adequately work in a scientific society. How could you, honestly, find the “relief that brings tears into your eyes” when all the while your neighbour is ridiculing you? One day you find your peace, the other day you end up in shame. Submission is annihilated once it is not respected, or at least confined to marginalised ecstatics. The quest for religious communities or even states, though outdated and to be refuted from a scientific perspective, from some point of view is at least understandable.

Or vice versa, How does the scientist want to be respected by a person for whom he obviously does not present an understandable, or at least workable answer, but offers ridicule or contempt for the solutions at hand? Instead of Dawkins’ despicable, adhomineming “do you really believe the world is only 6000 years old?”, that primarily pushes the other person into defense, it would be more helpful to send “How may it be that the world is only 6000 yeers old?” into contradictions. Contradictions that, at some point, may produce thoughts that lead to enlightenment. And until then they are just as validly dismissed by that person.

Problems arise, when one approach claims superiority over the other, in terms of peace of mind. (Not claiming that religious approaches may produce superior computers, planes, or anything). This is merely about how to deal with “Why?” questions, as soon as the mind has reached the stage to be able to ask them. As abstract terms can be combined to random combinations of questions, they have to be dealt with, epistemologically, with respect to the context of individual upbringing. I can ask “What was before the universe?”, completely unaware of the fact that time, i.e. “before”, is not defined outside of it. I can make the same mistake asking “Where?” the universe comes from, when location is only a measure within it. I wonder how many scientists fall for that trap.

We should appreciate, that, in the end, we all struggle with “Why?” questions, or fears from uncertainty, in one way or the other. There is no cookbook for life. Well, there were, but most of them are way outdated and literally fail to work in modern day society. Even the approach “find out on your own” takes courage, even more so in an individualistic society that may devalue any approach apart from one’s own. Even then, mutual respect for individual solutions is necessary to create a spark for a sense of belonging. Not-belonging appears to drop one into social limbo opposed to which an ancient slave received more approval and attention.

How can there be peace, peace of mind, and and even an ongoing scientific revolution, without mutual acceptance?

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