Yes, there are some nasty, cold, heartless ones, and they exist in the same world with these others who are big-hearted, compassionate and loving.
Who would fit into each category?
Given that it’s me writing this, you might already have guessed I’m going to talk about religion and science.
Religion, obviously, is the compassionate one. The one filled with heavenly love. The one that rescues starving orphans in India, and ministers to the sick and dying.
But Science is the cold one. The one that can never smile, or feel. The one with an obsession with facts and data instead of real people. The one that says nothing at all about the soul, and next to zero about the value of our individual lives and the tragedy of our deaths. The one with soulless, heartless mechanical solutions to all problems.
And yet …
This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about when I spoke of the “180 degrees thing.” Because this view of the two things, a view held by more than a few people, is pretty much the reverse of what happens to be the real situation.
When you look at the actual RESULTS, the one that works tirelessly to save lives, cure diseases, return people to health – the one that relieves human misery – is science.
It investigates illness to find the real causes, then invents treatments, medicines, physical therapy. Intervenes surgically to repair internal disorders. Invents labor-saving devices and conveniences. Feeds the earth’s billions. Gives power into the hands of individuals to improve their own lives. Encourages people to think for themselves by giving them the tools to investigate and understand the world around them.
While the one that pays lip service to compassion and love and healing, but does MUCH less to make things better, is religion. Religion stands helpless to treat the underlying causes of human misery, so it papers over misery with a smiley face. It diverts unguessably large amounts of money into building, all over the world, lavishly decorated churches, cathedrals and mosques. It props up manipulative phonies who grow rich off the pain and misery of the poor, the sick, the elderly, the fearful.
Worst of all – and this is the nightmare that keeps on giving – it encourages people to value passion over reason, gullibility over skepticism, and submission to authority over independent inquiry and allegiance to one’s own mind.
Give religion a completely free field of action for the next hundred years, and though there might be multitudes praying with a devotion unmatched in history, the level of misery would soar through the roof. Children would go back to dying of minor diseases, and adults would suffer immeasurably from all the little things that can go wrong with the human body, with no medical intervention in sight.
All the world would be consumed with the numb despair that goes with being helpless, but church fathers worldwide, fat and rich, would teach us that helplessness was PROPER, and assure us that everything was working out according to God’s plan.
Give science a completely free field of action for the next hundred years – plus the funding necessary to do the research – and it would come up with cures for just about every disease you can imagine. In time, even aging might yield itself to a cure.
Given any case of traumatic injury, science and medicine react instantly to repair and heal the victim, to the limits of modern knowledge. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is the perfect example. Shot in the head by a deranged assassin in January of this year, with a bullet passing through her brain (!), she not only survived, but mere weeks later was walking and interacting with people around her. This is applied science.
Treated instead with prayer, chanting, casting out of demons, anointing with holy oils, whatever, she would have died within days, or even hours. This is applied religion.
Yet what happens when emergency responders pick a victim up off the street, rush him to a hospital that treats him with medicine, million-dollar machines, and experts with accumulated decades of medical and scientific training? All working passionately to save his life and return him to some level of health?
Right. Some ninny immediately says “It’s a miracle!”
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