Philosophy, Theology, Religion, Science – A Four Course Discourse
Philosophy is the study of knowledge, nature, existence and it examines the relationship between humanity and nature.
Theology is a study of existence of Gods, the nature of religious ideas, the divinity and the scriptures.
Religion makes a truth claim that is not based on rationality but primarily based on faith.
Science is a study of the knowledge of things around us that is systematically gained through observation and experiments.
The power of faith has its own standing. They say faith can move mountains. The study of religion and theology is gaining greater importance as religious forces are driving major social transformation and determining the fate of massive political upheavals.
Religion has such strong historical content and also has a rich cultural context that enriches this very content. We need to carefully understand these nuanced narratives to fully appreciate the religious study and its significance in our life. The disciplines of theology and philosophy provide diverse but converging thoughts for the discovery of purpose and meaning of life. After all we want to know what is the end game of our life. Or is that we have to keep on playing the game till the end and accept the end merely being lifeless in our discourse. These different bodies of knowledge enable us to deeply examine the relationship we have with nature, culture, reality and divinity. There is this cultural rendering. There are these social constructs. There are things beyond us that transcend the reality.
Science is the study of nature and the behaviour of natural things. It dissects the body of the natural world based on facts learned through observations, hypothesis and experimentation. Modern science generally gets categorized into natural, social and formal science.
Science is derived from a Latin word scientia, meaning knowledge.
Philosophy is derived from the Greek word, philosophia, meaning love of wisdom or the science of knowledge.
Philosophy employs reasons to analyze the way we experience the world.
Science begins its journey with a simple question and so as philosophy also ventures into a world of wonder with a thoughtful question. It was Isaac Newton who revolutionized science with his simple question of why apple fell from a tree. It led to the Law of Gravitational Forces. It was Albert Einstein who galvanized science to a new stratosphere when he questioned the subject of absoluteness in nature. It led to the Theory of Relativity.
Science intuitively commences its exploration from the body of philosophy.
It is the art of questioning that is the essence of the science of philosophy. The profound question; is there is a science in the subject of philosophy, is quite intriguing? Socrates patented method of questioning that eventually led to the formidable formation of Socrates school of philosophy. It literally changed the way we look at things and the way we learn from nature. The nature of our perspective got nurtured in the process. A fundamental shift. Unfortunately, it is the mind of science that blatantly became unmindful of the body of philosophy that gave its umbilical cord.
Philosophy is then gets unabashedly branded as merely a figment of imagination having no standing and substance. Anything abstract has no matter. It is only the physical composition that matters and rest other are cerebral distortion. It is the body that matters more to science than the mind. In philosophy it is the mind that matters more than the physical body. Rene Descartes, “Cogito ergo sum…” i.e. I think therefore I am. It is the intractable contest between the thought of intangibles and the thing of tangibles. The tussle is implicitly evident. It is anecdotal in nature no empirical data to drive home the defined premise. There is very little we know about this unknown world and it has a much large territory in its hold. It is the known that dominates knowledge landscape.
Science speaks aloud of the known and has little clue about the unknown.
Philosophy speaks of the unknown and has so much to explore and explain.
The first part of theology is “theo” which means God in Greek, and the second part “logy” which means the study of, hence theology literally means the study of God. Being religion so close to the belief of God, so it broadly gets expanded to the study of religion. Philosophical Theology is a form of theology where philosophical methods are used to analyze theological concepts. Philosophy and Theology works together in bringing a wider angle and deeper array of insightful thoughts panning from historical to linguistics to sociological perspectives. It does provide a much better understanding of the intellectual underpinnings of religious beliefs and customary traditions.
It is just that the dominating force of scientific community that scathingly displaces the propositions subtly put forth by philosophers. It is the mind that operates in a dual state of consciousness and unconsciousness. The scientific mind predominantly operates from the conscious state and proclaims its predominance. The scientific bent of mind is quite unmindful of the colossal potential tucked in the unconscious state. Socrates had a strong fascination with human mind over the human body. He believed that philosophy should achieve a greater good for the well-being of society. He said the only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing.
Science speaks for the known objects and philosophy is the voice of the unknown subjects. There is such a world of difference between the known and the unknown. As we explore we keep growing our understanding of the unknown and as we dive deep we have a much bigger understanding of how little we know about the known. It is the subject of matter and energy. The world is nothing but a body of matter and energy. Everything is energy and matters are nothing but a form of energy. We are merely aware of the 5% of the universe and balance 95% of the universe that comprises of dark matter and dark energy is largely unknown. More is unknown than is known…
According Albert Einstein discovered that empty space is not anything. It is something very special. Empty space has startling properties. Energy is a property of space itself.
Space is not empty as it appears, it is definitely something that something is profound in its existence not nothing as is generally perceived. The space bends along the boundary of an object and there in comes the new concept of space-time continuum. There is abundant energy in space and the galaxy of stars spread across the universe constantly produce energy. In the process the stars die. Life is nothing but a factor of matter and energy…is it philosophy or science?
It is such a magical experience exploring the captivating stories of the outer world in the wonderful words of Dr. Carl Sagan. There is this outer universe. There is sheer mystery, so much fascination in display. We have no clue literally. We are deeply grappling in the dark. The story of dark matter and dark energy. We are constantly trying to figure out what is happening at the grand scale of cosmos. We are gaining quantum knowledge through our space explorations. Quantum Theory is the study of the behavior of these particles at the sub-atomic state. We know what is happening at the atomic level but still unknown of the activities at the sub-atomic level. The way electrons, protons and neutrons behave. The behavior of things that is visible is quite different from the behavior of things at those sub atomic level. And this changes the way we look at nature and understand the way nature works it way.
When we discuss science and theology in conjunction the concern is about the contrasting contest between fact and faith. Theologians claim their concepts and ideas fall outside the purview of science and knowledge of science is too little and has limited capacity to extensively examine the stated doctrines. Theology is a rational way of studying the very idea of creation and religious beliefs…many argue rationality only works in the space of science.
Science is working hard to examine the unexamined with experimentation whereas philosophy is thinking softly to discover the unexplored through a sense of exploration. These both perspectives have to collaborate and coexist to unravel the mysteries still keeping us in awe and wonder about the world beyond our reach.
Philosophy is believed to be pervading all branches of science…
Science believes what is seen and sensed. The unseen and unexplained are myths and magic. Things are beyond the realm of science that is unseen and considered to be unreal. There is this whole gamut of imaginary perspective and the transcendental thoughts. Religion believes in the existence of God. We cannot see God but we have a faith in its being. Science disdains the unknown and disapproves anything unseen. We cannot see dark energy and dark matter but science still has managed to derive an inference towards its existence…we believe science blindfolded.
Religion and Science are on diametrically different course but always on loggerhead. It is the faith vs. the logic behind the magic of life. The origin of life to the functioning of life we have evolved and have established certain rational argument. We rely on those logical hypotheses proposed by science to literally hypothecate our hibernated conjectures.
Science sets limit to the space of knowledge. The power of knowledge is so much hidden in the world of unknown and in the world of explored. This power comes from the power of imagination. Albert Einstein has said that imagination is more powerful than the knowledge. He also added that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but intelligence. The world of imagination is the playground for the thinkers.
Philosophers are great thinkers. According to Bertrand Russell, philosophy is something that is intermediate between theology and science. Mind is a perpetual question generator. Socrates showed us how to get answers through the art of questioning. There are so many questions that keep continuously churning; both theology and science keep trying but yet to arrive at any satisfying conclusion.
Is then that mind is presumed to accept the things as they are and stay still?
Not to be the case, it needs answers and those answers do come from the perspective of philosophy.
Knowledge is empowering.
Knowledge is emancipation.
Knowledge is liberation.
We are encircled by the world of knowledge. There is so much beyond the circle of knowledge and it is encirclement of insight, intuition and instinct.
A philosophical discourse provides us feed to read the unknown and the unseen.
A religious discourse provides us the stuff to transcend the speculative premise reach the spiritual platform.
A scientific dialogue provides us the facts to examine the roots of reality. In the last century scientific inventions has become rampant and are radical in nature.
In today’s hyper active digital world it is science and its application as technology is patently ruling the roost. Science has acquired gargantuan size that is larger than life stature. There is that big brother attitude of science dismissing the deserved gratitude towards the philosophical and theological community. It is science that actually gets its showing from the seeding of thoughts, the thoughts that come from the fertile grounds of philosophy.
There are stages in this exploratory engagement of discovering the truth and each play their respective part to make the exploration exciting and inspiring. It is a joint collaboration between these different disciplines to make living much more wonderful as life is always beautiful.
We are constant seekers of knowledge. We are incessantly seeking meaningful answers to the profound questions that keep hitting our cerebral radar. It does so uninterrupted. There is a sense of resonance but we are not in sufficient consonance with such ever expanding spatial concept. We are unfortunately trapped in the prism of multiple perspectives…the science perspective to religious perspective to theological perspective to philosophical perspective.
The next discourse is on the very course of perspective and how we perceive these myriad perspectives…
Nihar R Pradhan