Faith vs Science Debate in the COVID-19 Lockdown
By Mujeeb Jaihoon
Humans have strange ways of acting and reacting in times of calamities. Natural and man-made disasters evoke the wildest response from two opposing camps. Each party moots an argument skewed by their relationship with God – pro and against.
The rabble-rousing rivalry between organized Faith and elitist Science is not new. Both worldviews have locked horns since time immemorial. Although both strive to interpret human life, one is obsessed more with ‘why’ while the other with ‘what’ behind life’s known and unknown phenomena.
Science obviously has a beguiling appeal for the human logic. While Faith consoles and comforts the human soul during calamities, Science has an inherent tendency to create hubris in the mind of men and women. This is not to say all worshippers of the Temple of Reason are guilty of vanity. In fact, there have been several instances when the Faith camp has committed, and some still do, unspeakable crimes against proponents of human reason.
Outbreak of contagious diseases are among the instances when the Faith vs. Science showdown reaches new heights. The Covid-19 virus, which is believed to have ‘unveiled’ in China since October 2019, has enamored the Science camp with historic ammunition against the Faithful tribe. Science enthusiasts, or wannabe atheists, messianically argue that the lockdown of places of worship, including at the spiritual headquarters of certain religions, shows a severe miscarriage of Faith in solving human sufferings. They believe this is the perfect opportunity to discount the Divine from the affairs of this world. They claim that the abandonment of mosques, churches and temples shows the reality of a non-existent Absolute Being who believers summon via prayers to protect them.
Fanboys of Reason conveniently ignore important lessons from history: Science has failed to pinpoint the exact cause for the origin and subsequent disappearance of major pandemics viruses including the much-hyped Covid-19 variant. All that Scientists brag is about the symptoms, prevention of spreading and precautionary techniques. However, the creed of Science dictates that causation is essential for a disease to start and end as well. Medical Science cannot afford to legitimize ‘abracadabra’ in delineating the theories of origin and disappearances of diseases.
World Health Organization (WHO) had no clue how the Nipah virus was to be treated. Although the world health body has prioritized the virus for its Research and Development Blueprint, it has washed off hands from developing any drug or vaccine to end this endemic.
Ebola, another deadly virus that threatened mainly the African peoples, is listed among diseases with expected occasional outbreak. The natural question is: why has this virus not been totally contained? Why has Science not been able to decode the reasons for the resurrection of this human killer?
Many other viruses have come and gone, but Science has failed to convince humanity about the reasons for the arrival and departure as well. AIDS and Cancer continue to sneer at medical science, leaving men and women in infinite suffering.
Islam, the staunchly monotheistic Abrahamic Faith, radically insists cleanliness is half its belief and ritual washing of hands and face at least five times a day as obligatory. The Quran, the Holy Book revealed to the Prophet, propounds observation of natural phenomenon in the handbook of meditation. The Quranic injunction to reflect on nature fostered the spirit of inquiry among Muslims for centuries that created world class biologists, neuroscientists, chemists and mathematicians. Not many know that Ibn Sina, the Persian Muslim polymath – physician, astronomer and widely regarded father of modern medicine – had consigned the Holy Quran to memory since age of 10. The intellectual honeymoon continued until the lethargic attitude divorced the community from their Holy Book.
Besides, the mosques lockdown is based on the established traditional scholarly rulings. This is not Islam’s first ‘pre-emptive strike’ on mosques in fear of a contagious disease. Muslims have outlived several viral attacks, by remaining true to their beliefs and traditions, not abandoning them altogether.
Human progress and well-being are possible in the complementarity between Faith and Science, priests and scientists, shrines and laboratories. Religionists and Science cheerleaders have to join hands to fight human sufferings.
Mujeeb Jaihoon is a UAE-based writer, orator, and wanderer of Indian origin. His published books include The Cool Breeze From Hind, a historical fiction of a spiritual travel across Muslim Kerala, and Slogans of the Sage, collection of illustrated aphorisms by late Shihab Thangal, late supremo of Muslim League. Besides pursuing literary passion, he is also a regular speaker on issues pertaining to education and women’s empowerment. As a prolific traveler, Jaihoon has extensively travelled to cradles of ancient civilizations in various parts of the world. He also serves as director at several educational institutions in Kerala, besides playing an advisory role in community development initiatives. His blog is available on http://www.jaihoon.com
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One Response to “Faith vs Science Debate in the COVID-19 Lockdown”
This is an interesting take on the old science vs. religion debate. I agree that a harmony between the two is the best personal approach, but there will always be zealots in both camps wanting to point scornful fingers at the perceived failings of the other camp.
It is probably not fair to say that science has made no progress on ebola, HIV, and other epidemics. Progress is sometimes slow, but science will get there.
I am less familiar with the Quran, but the Old Testament also contains effective procedures for minimizing the spread of infections.