Conflict of Science and Religion

The Light (Pakistan), 8th January 1976 Issue (Vol. 56, No. 2, p.2)

The scientists draw pictures of the Universe, which may be more scientific, but certainly less human, hence less spiritual. Their instinct of self-expression has developed. But it has developed defectively. They avoid Religion with a view to rendering their things simple, and paving the path for intellectual progress. But their avoidance of Religion has not led to simplicity, but merely to a more dead and dehumanised complexity. When they study revolutions wrought by Religion, when they read of the miracles of great prophets, whose historicity they cannot deny, they ventilate their reactions in extremes; and even in opposite extremes. So, in such a moment they either sit mumchance or cry loud. Under such a visitation they spring to feet or fall on their facts.

They cower and crouch before The GREAT ARAB [Muhammad] (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) issuing from the vast waste of desert preaching the mighty truism that God is God and that God is One. He comes out of the golden glare of sand and sunlight to proclaim the triumph of mind over matter of Religion over Science. He does not summon spirits from the Hades or Sheol, but calls angels from on High. He says that his religion is as single as the sun, as naked as the drawn sword. His index-finger is more effective than an epigram. He bisects the moon by a mere gesture and science stands and stares.

Not ‘a religion’ but ‘the religion’ which, strictly speaking, is the soul of Islam means the indescribable realization of the Unknowable where all distinctions of caste, colour and creed, all dogmas and theories, the body and mind, time, space and causality vanish like mists in the sun.

Let any person of real religious experience refer to his moment of what is called communion with God and assert whether any idea of himself or the world subsists there. In true realization there is no trace of the world around. What the scientists are pleased to call self-improvement, is a crude manifestation of the endeavour of the soul to rise and soar to the skies.

In the deep dark recesses of the human heart there is a faint glimmer of divine light. Sometimes it is conscious, often unconscious. Many a time man questions himself:

“Can the midnight lightning flash not be made continuous to become an ever-lasting bright day?”

This rampant Question Mark haunts his mind. In an instinctive desire of that nature lies the necessity of Religion in its ordinary sense. Strenuous struggle to that effect is worthwhile, and those who pooh-pooh it and wish it banished from the world are despite themselves engaged in suicidal efforts.

All attempts of philosophy and science to peep into the Ineffable have proved abortive. They fail and will continue to fail unless they are armed with the divine revelation. Time, space and causality contemplated either from the subjective or objective points of view, defy all efforts to discover their nature. The ultimate nature of Matter, Motion, Force or Energy presents insurmountable difficulties to the inquisitive mind. Atomic theory is beset with contradictions. Boscovich’s theory of Centres of Force, in the long run, fares no better. All theories have their tell-tale failure stamped on their faces. One system of philosophy explodes the other and careers along until it falls into the abyss of its resultant doubts and suspicions.

Science also is neither here nor there. Its much-vaunted discoveries are soon exposed to lack of reality and validity. From this it is quite evident that the interior of nature will forever remain a mystery to the mind and it is not given to human intellect to sound the depths of Cosmos.

Winwood Reade in his famous book

“The Martyrdom of Man”

says,

“But even masters of science are precisely those whom nature inspires with most reverence and awe. For as their minds are wafted by their wisdom into untravelled worlds they find new fields of knowledge expanding to their view. The firmament ever expands, the abyss deepens, the horizon recedes. The proximate Why may be discovered, the ultimate Why is unrevealed. Even when science shall be so far advanced that all the faculties and feelings will be traced with the precision of mathematical demonstration to their latent condition in the fiery cloud of the beginning, the luminous have the nebula of the sublime Laplace, even then the origin and purpose of Creation, the How and Why will remain unsolved.”

There can be no greater testimony to the helplessness of science than this. Seeing that the Universe is grand and inexplicable and human intellect a tiny tot, man must say:

I do not ask to see,
The distant scene
One step enough for me.
Or join with William Cowper and say:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines, Of never-failing skill.
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His Sovereign will.

Top