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Essay on the Importance of Science, Democracy and Religion

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The Industrial Revolution in England gave a new shape and dimension to life and from the drudgery of hard manual labour man began to find a new faced ‘servant’ at hand to help him in facilitating his daily chores.

Further and further advancements came in their stride. Machines, electricity, transmission, transportation, communication brought people of the world closer.

Months of navigation by the sea were reduced to hours and days by air; long Periods in the transmission of a letter came down to minutes and seconds by telegrams, telephones and now fax and E-mails. Impossibilities seem to turn into possibilities and nothing now seems to be beyond human powers and possibilities.

But while science has given us such vast resources- unearthed so many hidden treasures of the earth; has shortened time and space; it has, side by side, given man the feeling that he is now all powerful and beyond any control.

In his quest for more and still more power he began to explore energies from unexplored sources and the atomic energy, the nuclear power came handy to him to make him feel in a way ‘drunk with power’.

This manifested itself in the most inhuman holocaust caused during the World War II at Nagasaki and Hiroshima — still a horrid dream for those who somehow survived from it.

Therefore there has begun an active rethinking on how there should be Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaties (NTP) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). But even with this rethinking there still are NWS countries (The Nuclear Weapon States) who possess potential arsenals of these weapons and India has also not been lagging behind and has been conducting nuclear tests. Where is science leading us? That is a thinkable question. That which was to have been our ‘servant’ is assuming the role of our ‘master’ and we sheepishly are subduing and succumbing to its powers.

This is the scenario about science and its advancements.

Now when it comes to create a consensus on the Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; we step into the field of creating a world opinion- This brings us into the field of democracy.

The world opinion is governed by the opinion of the people in various counties. People’s opinion, people’s right to express their opinion on matters of national and international issues is what democracy stands for.

The concept of democracy as a political theory and a political design also grew in the later 19th century and today this political system has assumed an importance in its own right and is the call of the day. Even the totalitarian countries had to abdicate in favour of this system.

So democracy is gaining ground and the advancement of Science has a lot to do with this change. Science, while doing other things for the comfort of life, does provide a platform for intellectual freedom and advancement of rational thinking. It creates an atmosphere of intellectual independence and a mind with a sense of independence naturally shall not stand subjugated to dogmas — whether of religion or of politics.

When all minds are free to think and act, democracy, for its growth finds the natural ground and the fertile field. This is how and that is why, with the advancement of Science, the democratic political thought has become the dictum of the day and all countries are rallying round to this political formulation and this political system. It is a different matter that the monarchy still persists in England or in Japan or Bhutan or that the Presidential form of government functions in USA or France, but essentially and at the base, it is a democratic system which is at work. The American Senate can still dictate the President on what policy to adopt and follow.

The King or Queen of England has to toe the line of the Parliament. The President of India is bound by the advice of the Prime Minister and his cabinet — a democratically elected body.

Still with all the advancements of science and the full-scale functioning of democracies, there still is a voice which cannot be ignored; the voice of Religion. It has been said and is being said that where science advances Religion declines. It is said that Science bases itself on Reason while Religion bases itself on Faith and Reason and Faith cannot coexist.

But they have to coexist and they do coexist. People mistake Religion as fundamentalism or blind faith in superstitions. That is hardly the meaning of True Religion. ‘Dharma’ as the Indian Philosophy professes and propounds is the righteous and principled way of conduct.

It does not enshrine itself in any dogma or faith in this duty or that or faith in this form of God or that form of God. It only trains the mind in the belief and faith that man may have gained all power but there is a Power beyond and above that Power which no wealth can purchase; no temple, mosque or church can imprison, no human eye does see but all human souls can feel. That is how it has, time and again been said that the Voice of People is the Voice of God.

This does not at all imply that the unbridled clamor or vociferous protestations of a mob is the Voice of the People. The Voice of the People is that which is invoked from within the soul — ‘the still small voice within’ — as Mahatma Gandhi called it.’ More things are wrought by Prayer’ — said Tennyson.

The One remains, the many change and pass’— Shelley said it. That which upholds is Dharma the Indian philosophy said it. It is only ‘Dharma’ that Protects. Shakespeare said in ‘Hamlet’ “There’re more things in heaven and earth which are beyond our philosophies.

Einstein, the great scientist surrendered himself to the ‘Will of God’ Bertrand Russell rightly said __’We are in the middle of a race between human skill as to means and ‘human folly’ as to ends, resulting in strife, insecurity and sorrow’. He further said, ‘Unless men increase in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase of knowledge will be increase of sorrow’.

Religion Says — as what has been said in Bhagawat Gira —’Leave all ‘Dharma’ just come under the umbrella of my (God’s) faith and surrender you to it’.

‘Do the right duty, perform the right conduct’ — that is the call of Religion and if this call is listened to and followed, Religion, Democracy and Science — all shall merge into one for the good of all mankind.