When Science and Religion Collide

I live in a small community of a few thousand mostly deeply religious people; a small group of Hindus and Christians dominated by a majority of Muslims. It’s not hard to notice that the single Church, two temples and three mosques are frequented daily, and that each religious grouping are devout followers of their respective religions. This community is a microcosm of the religious fervour endemic the world over.

In Europe, on the other hand are a few thousand scientists who after fourteen years of collaboration, this week witnessed the fruits of their labour when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN was switched on successfully. Amid threats to shut the project down over fears of safety by certain detractors, and doomsday predictions by the loony religious fringe, the first proton beams were injected into the LHC on the 10th September this week to complete a successful start up on the most expensive and probably most important scientific experiment in the history of mankind to date.
In stark contrast we have two groups of people; one looking for meaning and purpose in archaic religious texts and ultimately for salvation through blind faith, and the other nobly trying to unravel meaning and purpose and indeed, the secrets of the universe through scientific experiment. While scientists will be asking how the universe came to be the way it is, the religious faithful believe they already know and see no reason to question further. In life there can be no two endeavours that are more diametrically opposed to each other than science and religion; indeed religion is the antithesis of science. And while religionists vehemently oppose science, some have no qualms about engaging the detestable field of pseudo-science to prop up their dying religions as in the laughable hypothesis about Intelligent Design.
In the modern era, religion still dominates the lives of ordinary people in spite of the great advances in the science and the increasing evidence against religious dogma and superstitious practices. As scientific scrutiny closes in on irrational religious thinking, I’m constantly amazed at the mental gymnastics employed by the religious institutions, the evangelists, clerics, clergy, priests and common shysters, to find new ways to “keep the faith alive.” Religion is big business, and I guess there is a vested interest to ensure its survival.
The future benefits of the LHC and the experiments to be conducted at CERN are obvious to all but the firmly religious. The one benefit not listed, and the one that amuses me no end, is how this scientific event has sparked some fear and loathing into the religious establishment. Take Ray Comfort for example, an evangelist whose recent blog “Its a Sick World” questions the spending of 10 billion dollars over 14 years on the LHC project when the money could be used for feeding starving children in Africa. It is typical of the dishonesty and bigotry of the religious movement who have squandered many more billions in furthering the aims of useless religions. One could also ask why he has never questioned the US Government’s expenditure in an untenable war in Iraq, which makes the LHC budget look like small change. No, Ray like the rest of the religious rabble don’t concern themselves too much with starving children; right now he is more concerned about how the scientific experiments at CERN is going to affect his business of selling salvation.
While I know it’s irrational to suggest that we use the LHC to accelerate different religions at nearly the speed of light from opposite directions so that they collide and smash each other into oblivion, I wish we could. Is it too much to ask?

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