by Zulfikar Abbany
Science and journalism are kindred spirits: Both rely on curiosity, the courage to ask tough questions, and deal fairly and ethically with the answers. Sure, it doesn’t always happen that way — there are plenty of dodgy scientists and many more unscrupulous hacks. But you get the idea.
So why are science and journalism so scared of tackling — either proving or disproving — some of the greatest, unsolved propositions of our human existence? It’s Easter. So, yes, I’m talking about events of religious significance, such as the Resurrection of Christ.
It can’t just be because it’s too hard. We’ve got astrophysicists who say they’ve “heard” the Big Bang. And journalists who say they can explain financial markets and other social ills. But few would dare attempt to explain miracles like Jesus’ Feeding of the 5,000, his Walking on Water, or, indeed, the resurrection.
But aren’t they fascinating questions?
Take the resurrection. People have been known to “come back from the dead” — people whose hearts stop and restart or even those who lie for years in a coma — and yet, even in our age of modern medicine, we don’t fully understand what happens. What trauma the people experience, how their brains suffer, do they remember anything when they are back?
And as a result we’re happy to research that. But the resurrection is one we would rather not touch, and especially not at Easter. (Oh, but we can ask this areligious loudmouth, who happens to have a Muslim name, to write an opinion piece. That’s a safe bet. Thanks, Ed.)
Scientists are believers too
My feeling is we’ve been cowed into silence — by our own fears of offending the faithful, and by their response. But we desperately need to break through that.
Many early, Western natural philosophers were deeply religious. They used enquiry to understand and explain nature as it was created or formed. It could be a dangerous business at times. Some, like Giordano Bruno, were burnt for heresy.
But the church was also often supportive of scientific research, and as philosopher Steven Nadler once told me “they only stepped in when the conclusions of that research, or the thinking, clashed with dogmas of the Catholic faith, or seemed inconsistent with what the Bible proclaimed to be true.”
But bear this in mind: Nicolaus Copernicus, who devised the heliocentric theory of our universe — that everything revolves around the sun — was religious and is said to have had a good relationship with the church. Add to that Galileo, Newton, Descartes and Leibniz — they were all among the faithful.
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle