Religion and Science: Partners for the Sake of Human Health - DO NOT CONGREGATE
A tiny number of clergy in every tradition have violated national and international guidelines, both formal and civic, during our shared time of suffering, by aggressively and defiantly convening large gatherings in the name of so-called “faith.”
In many ways, including from confirmed data this behavior has led directly to increased death and illness, not only in their own communities, but perhaps more egregiously among innocents faithfully following best practices to curtail this demonic contagion.
Mature religious leaders denounce such decisions and behavior, and urge all believers in all traditions to support and comply with scientific wisdom, and honor and attend the guidelines of health and medical researchers and professionals. In this way, we seek to show true ways of faith, by loving and caring for the health and safety of our neighbors and their families.
Do not congregate. Stay home. Follow the science. Be faithful to the ways of truly loving according to the dictates of each or our beautiful faith traditions, which have resources also needed in our collective time of crisis.
The Jewish tradition sees no conflict between science and religion and demands that in a situation of danger to physical or mental well being, all religious rules and observances are suspended and may not be kept. Even on Yom Kippur-the holiest day of the Jewish year when fasting is mandated- a person ill as diagnosed by a physician is not permitted to fast and must partake of food. Similarly, in case of serious illness all rules of the Jewish sabbath are suspended. Anyone who refuses to follow medical advise or challenges medical or scientific expertise is known in Talmudic language as a “Hasid Shotah”, a pious ignoramus. In our current situation with the COVID 19 epidemic, all Jewish experts and authorities have ruled that all mandated scientific and medical procedures must be adhered to. Jewish tradition stress faith in divine providence but also in following medical science for the protection of human life as both religion and science are essential elements in the divine plan.
- Professor Charles Selengut, author of Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence, Jewish-Muslim Encounters: History, Philosophy and Culture,
In this time of crisis caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, people of faith are asking hard questions and doing all they can to discern what the good Lord is doing in and through this pandemic. It may be that the Lord is disciplining His Bride, the Church. Scripture tells us the day coming when the Church and Jesus the Christ will be brought together at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. On that day His Bride must be holy, blameless and without spot or wrinkle. This Covid 19 pandemic could be the beginning of the Lord’s effort to purify His Bride.
Our fervor continues to burn passionately as we seek new ways to embrace the old call to sacrificial living. Our fervor is not to be foolishness however. We continue our ministries to care for the sick and dying, and to those who suffer from loss of livelihood, and loss of ways to care for themselves and their families. But while living to recognize the Kingdom, we walk gratefully with our sisters and brothers in ministries of science, health, and medicine. We do not undermine our common bond of patriotism, and civic duty. We do not endanger our neighbors and tempt the Lord by pridefully creating close and large gatherings. Instead we honor God’s true wisdom blessed in all our faculties of mind and heart. New ways, truly pleasing to the Lord, should be guided by our best knowledge, knowledge for the best way to cooperate, and together to heal our land.
- John E. Bishop, US Naval Academy (graduate), Marine Corps Officer (retd.)
A Muslim call to comply with the guidance of science during the pandemic
I trust the public health officials who are trying to keep this outbreak under control, to take effective precautions based on scientific data and experiences gained from previous outbreaks. As part of our civic and human responsibility, each of us should comply with the guidance and advice from medical experts and public health officials in our countries. Our human consciousness requires us to empathize with those who are suffering, regardless of where they are in the world, share their pain and do whatever is in our power to help alleviate the suffering. To take precautions for preserving public health is a form of active prayer. One other important thing we can do is to knock on the door of the God of all humanity with a grieving heart through our supplication. Both active prayer through taking precautions and our supplications to God are our duties as his servants. May God the most Compassionate, save humanity from this pandemic, cure those who are ill, and give perseverance to those who lost their loved ones
- Fethullah Gülen, founder and leader of the international Hizmet (Service) movement.
Religious institutions and leaders must disseminate proper knowledge. But what is proper? Our faith in holy books, traditional beliefs, and temporal leaders have a key place to meet the coronavirus challenge? They are powerful and necessary means of supporting us, but these must align with scientific truth and knowledge, also given by God. Our Hindu way of life is built on formulae given by God Krishna: Jnanam param guhyam me yad-vijnana samanvitam. “My essential wisdom is that which corresponds to science (Bhagavata Purana 2.9.30). East or West, Spiritual Wisdom has a ‘pandemic’ injunction: Atmanam Satatam viddhi say Upanishad. This is echoed in Socrates’ precept, “Know Thyself”. We are both physical body and spiritual soul. It is for physical sciences to care for the body, and for spiritual-religious wisdom to care for the mind, feelings, emotions and the soul.
Congregational religious services are crucial to almost all faith traditions. Scientifically, though, at present it is not advisable to congregate while Coronavirius can spread through human transmission.
We should note however that isolation and social distancing has two sides. The isolation prescribed by science is a physical isolation and distancing. However, every religious tradition prescribes solitude, as a higher path of spiritual journey. Preventive isolation is a disconnect, solitude, shutting our doors to the external world. Yet also it is a time to reconnect with oneself and our source, the Divine. For a Hindu religious seeker Corona infused solitude is a great blessing in disguise.
- Achayra Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, Spiritual Head, Sri Radharamana Mandir of Vrindavan
The entire world is pervaded by the One Supreme Being. She manifests in different forms at different times and among different peoples. The dharma, the rituals, the temples and the fire worship are methods of helping the believer to reach and attain oneness with the Supreme Being. The methods have to be modified, adjusted and changed in the light of contemporary situations. The method of worship today is to religiously follow the guidelines of the National Governments so that all humanity is safe and takes one more small step towards oneness with the Supreme Being.
- Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Former Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru, India.
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Photo Caption: "Pope Francis presides over "Way of the Cross" service in empty Saint Peter's Basilica," Photo credit: disrn . com