Religion through the Rationalistic Lens


The rationalistic lens blurs the vision of post-enlightenment science-inclined thinkers, distorting the image of religion as just a competing pursuit for explaining the natural world. This view arises from the fact that historically, religion also used to do what science is doing now, i.e. account for cosmogenesis and biogenesis. It has continued to do so in many contexts since the Copernican revolution.
But over the ages, and now too, religions have fulfilled many human needs which range from providing psychological comfort in painful situations to bringing joy to celebratory events. Beyond this, religions work on the thesis that there is something more to human life than biochemistry and neuron firing. This thesis of a spiritual substratum in the universe may be right or wrong, but it is not as irrational as scientism might claim. It is a meaningful transrational framework that need not hurt or harm anyone, and has enriched/enriches the lives of millions.
Legitimate opposition to many aspects of religions is justified for two important reasons. Their views on the natural world need to be revised, perhaps discarded. Moreover, religious fanaticism, often based on I-alone-have-the-ultimate-Truth-mindset, has caused immense havoc in history, as it continues to do so in our own times.
However, many religions have also been transformed into more civilized behavior patterns. Deeply religious people serve humanity in a thousand ways and contexts: they work for peace, feed the hungry, do social service, bring values to people in prison, etc.
At a time when humanity is in dire need of peace and harmony in every field, we need to work concertedly for the common good to help solve the myriad problems we face as a species, instigating inflammatory discords between science and religion, such as religious and scientific fundamentalists do, is not very helpful, however noble their motives may be.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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