Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inter-Faith Forum; Science And Religion

Ok, as i told earlier, i went to an interfaith forum.
The topic of discussion was whether religion and science conflicts with each other or not.

The speaker representing Islam was Mr Shah Kirit (one of my fav), Uncle Vijaya representing Buddhism, Dr Living Lee representing Christianity while Prof (i'm truly sorry i cant remember the name, pls do inform me if u know the name) representing Hinduism.

Towards the end of the forum, the moderator asked if the member of the floor have any question. And since the beginning of the forum, i had been wanting to ask but i dared not.
At last i plucked my courage and stood up to ask the questions that had been disturbing my mind.

One of my drawback is my stage-fright-ness... It may be surprising for some, but i cant deny the fact that i'll start to shake whenever i'm supposed to talk in public. My sympathetic nervous system is very efficient in conveying the tiniest, deepest feeling in my heart, that i'm afraid. The fear somehow gets amplified and was shown to everybody everytime i talk in public. The microphone i'm holding, or any paper i'm holding will also vibrate with my fingers. Combined with the fact that the hall was very very freezing-ly cold, my fingers were numb and i cant even move my fingers synchronisingly. I was shaking because of cold + nervous-ness... And i am upset with it.

Anyway, that is not what i want to draw my readers' attention to. The major issue here is the questions i asked.

1. Do the Christians, Buddhist and Hindus agree or not with Darwin Theory of Evolution? If no, why then is the theory still circulating even years after it was introduced? Does that mean there are more Atheist than people of religion now?

2. Premarital sex and gays were not accepted by the society since early history. But now as science advances, we know preventions can be taken to avoid the STDs. So, should religion changes and accept this immoral act? (This question was for Uncle Vijaya, the Buddhist representative because earlier he mentioned abt religion having to change from its dogma to suit modern science)

Perhaps it was partly my fault that my nervous-ness somehow overshadowed my questions that the speakers did not catch what i really wanted to say.

The Muslim speaker said Islam do not accept theory, only scientific facts based on proofs.

The Christian speaker said it's rubbish that ppl denies the existence of God.

The Hindu speaker somehow agrees with the evolution (i think that's what he said). And he added, where we come from is not important. What important is where we ended.

The Buddhist speaker's answer wasnt very clear. But he said not only where we ended is important, but how we live now is more important than where we came from. So, live now (at least that was what he said)

For the 2nd question, Uncle Vijaya said religion does not have to change to accept these immoral act but rather it's ok if it is beneficial for u and me.
I really wanted to ask more, "does that mean religion cant accept free sex because the act transmits STDs around the world, but if free SAFE sex is applied, religion permits it? It doesnt harm u and me."
But since there was lack of time, the question was never asked.

From the little and limited knowledge i have, i know that Muslims believe that Adam was the first human in the world. He was sent down to Earth as a HUMAN. Not merely a single cell that somehow evolved randomly and became what we are now. Hence, this itself denies the theory of evolution completely. Christians will have the more or less same opinion, if not exactly the same.

But i really do not know what a Buddhist or a Hindu think of this theory of evolution. Where living beings actually came from a single cell.

Anybody will like to give any thought?
Or perhaps can join in this debate in another blog.


  1. Anyway...

    I can't speak for Hinduism. Although I've been expose to the epic Mahabharata (apparently based on real events 5000 years ago in India!) the contribution India has made to global culture and philosophy is massively underrated in MO. Sheikh Imran says the Indian Muslims were some of the best Muslims on the Planet in early 20th century. Better to try and attend more interfaith forums like that to get some more revealing answers.

    Buddhism is not homogeneous. Some of the the Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka agree with killing of the Tamils.
    and and Buddhism seems very self cantered to me although the dedication by some Buddhists is quite amazing indeed.

    Christians (in Europe anyway) lost many believers over the last 50 years or so. Some remaining have become 'their own priests, keeping the 'authority' of the church at bay' - blame Henry VIII.

    Did you have any preconception as to how they would answer? If so, did the answers agree with your prediction. Were you satisfied with what was said? Did you feel they 'fudged' the issue?

    Did you hear anything that surprised you?

  2. As for "facts", we should try and appreciate what answer we are chasing, and what means can we get those answers.

    Science ONLY pertains the physical world. It CANNOT answer anything that is non-physical. I'm only guessing here but I can't think of any reason why I may be wrong, but I believe this:

    Think of an elderly person passing away suddenly in their sleep. The body, say 5 nanoseconds after their death is exactly the same as it was 5 nanoseconds after death. Why isn't the body functioning then? Can science (more properly called physical science - a name occasionally used in universities) explain how death occurs in a 10 ns period?

    Actually I've heard some chemical processes accelerates once the body dies dead due to regulatory/inhibitory functions ceasing. (a statement made about how the Turin shroud image came about)

    So science is doomed to dwell in this world and approximate how the physical world can exist. Not the how and where Q's of spiritual matters. And actually Kurt Godel proved mathematics was fundamentally flawed so it is physically impossible to understands the physical world to the nth degree.

    You may like to watch this program. Dangerous Knowledge. I loved it, but disagreed with the thesis of the presenter. I believe the knowledge these man came across showed the plainly the limited nature of man and gave them a glimpse of the power of the All Mighty - something none around them understood or shared, and caused them great psychological stress.

    We have a branch of 'knowledge' called the Humanities to deal with real life matters which science only plays a minor role. Affairs of the heart and conscience of society.

    For many, they are religious OR scientific. Rarely do they come together. When they do, I think the results are often amazing, but even so, few seem to contemplate what science actually means.

    So If you ask a theologian about physicality, expect some strange answers.

  3. There were not many questions asked as there were very little time and not many audiences. I'm quite sad of it actually.

    One of the questions were regarding the Bible. The speaker mentioned that bible is the book that teaches moral values to mankind. A student asked whether that means human is immoral, that they need a guidance. I wasnt really clear of the answer given, but he was saying that human do hv the tendency to do things wrong.

    I have a feeling that the Hindu speaker spoke more on motivational things rather than how Hindu is related to Science. He was explaining more on how Hinduism approaches daily life.

    I wasnt so satisfied with the Christian speaker as well because he skipped real lots of his powerpoint slides due to lack of time. I managed to caught a glimpse of the slides, which i saw some interesting words like Geology and Bible.

    One thing that surprises me was when the Christian speaker actually relates bible and the occupation of Palestine by the zionist. He mentioned that Bible predicted that Palestine will be ruled by the jews on 15th May 1948. He said researches managed to calculate and found the exact date 15th May 1948 in the bible.

    That actually reminds me of the book "Jerusalem in The Quran" whixh i'm still reading now. The book did mention that Quran had also predicted that the Jews will come back to Jerusalem one day, which exactly what is happening now.

  4. Btw, the whole world actually accepted LOVE.
    But love is not something that can be seen , it can only be felt and only the effects can be seen.

    Correct me if i'm wrong but, why cant the world accepts the existence of a God as the Creator, who cant be seen, but can be felt, and the creations can be seen?

  5. The world can't accept it? Because a lot of it (especially those in positions of power and influence) listens to the whispers of Satan. Remember what Dr Marican (The Dr from 'Bahrain' ;) said? Humans are weak and forgetful. In those two failings, man commits many sins often by way of vanity, greed and selfishness - linked to the obsession with this temporal world. Many people allow the love of them themselves to arrogantly, and it must be said 'stupidly', block off their reason. And Allah puts a cage over the hearts of others.

    As you suggested previously, it's acceptable to believe in aliens, 'inner-selves' Amazonian spirits (a good selling point to white tourists!), Australian aborigine stories of creation, Chakra's, Feng Sui, and so on, but it's seems that you are 'fair game for attack' if you say you believe in One God, The Creator.

    You hit upon a very important point of humanity: Love. I've just started reading a book which I bought a few years ago (shame on me) It's called "Global Ethic or Global Hegemony?" (2005) by one of Malaysia’s finest minds: Dr. Chandra Muzaffar. He essentially begins his book with altruistic love as preached by all the major religions.

    Malaysia is blessed to have this man living in its borders. If you get the chance to see him talk DO SO! While I find it frustrating that I can't really figure out his 'formal' belief, (my father at this point would start questioning the need to put labels on people) but his words of justice and peace have much congruence with Islam. Cynthia McKinney was pretty much similar - A Muslim flower just waiting to blossom.

    As you make your way through life, you will increasingly see so many people each with different angles on many issues, and you have to deal with those issues. Malaysia is again blessed with such society where people realise they have to get on with living together. It's just a pity all these lovely people haven't yet acknowledged the one who Created all, and there upon acted accordingly.