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Chapter 3.
3. Misunderstandings About Religion

Often we hear some patent slogans used against 'Religion'. They are nowadays widely used by the Communists. They are-.

  1. Religion is anti-science.
  2. Religion was a drug invented by the capitalists to keep the oppressed classes content with their wretched condition. In other words, it was the opium to make people sleep.
  3. Religion retards material and intellectual progress.

Let us, now examine these allegations. All these statements have been made by the Europeans (from Karl Mane to Bertrand Russel) who had known a particular religion only, i.e., Christianity. They committed the intellectual sin of seeing a particular religion and assuming that all religions (including Islam) must be of the same calibre. It was, to say the least, a fallacy, if not a deliberate deception.

To explain the above statement, it is necessary to point out just in general outline what was the attitude of Christianity towards knowledge and progress.

"From the sixteenth century A.D. the conflict between the church and science began. This most unfortunate struggle was not started by the scientists but by the protagonists of Christianity, who feared that their religion was in dire danger of losing its hold on the masses. Their house of cards was threatening to fall down. Both Catholics and Protestants, though they were at logger-heads themselves, took the same stand against the impact of revolutionary scientific theories of Copernicus and Galileo. They did what every tyrant, afraid of his inherent weakness, does. Ruthless persecutions were launched against the brave scientists who defied the church and said what they knew was the truth.

"At first we should take Copernicus (Nicolaus Koppcrnink), 1473 - 1543, as he was the man who set the ball rolling. He did not dare to publish his work, 'On the Revolution Of Heavenly Bodies', for a long time due to the fear of the church. In the end he successfully tried to appease the church by dedicating his book to the Pope. In fact his publisher wrote a preface alleging that the theory of the earth's motion was only a hypothesis and not an assertion as positive truth. In the words of Lord Bertrand Russel, 'For a time, these tactics sufficed, and it was only Galileo's bolder defiance that brought retrospective condemnation upon Copernicus.'

(Religion and Science).

"Luther, also, opposed the Copernican system on theological grounds.

"Galileo Galilei (i 564 - 1642), though once a friend of Pope Urban VIII, was thrown into the prison of Inquisition by the orders of the same Pope and threatened with torture if he did not recant. Galileo's only crime was that he supported the Copernican system because of the observations made with his telescope. These observations were far more difficult to cope with for the Church than the theoretical works of Copernicus.

"Giardino Bruno (1549 - 1600) was another victim of the cruelty of the 'tolerant' people. He was burnt alive.

"As Lord Bertrand Russel has written: 'Theologians were not slow to point out that the new doctrine would make the Incarnation difficult to believe.'

(Relinion and Science).

"So the Inquisition announced the following as the truth: 'The first proposition that the sun is the centre and does not revolve about the earth is foolish, absurd, false in theology and heretical; because expressly contrary to the Holy Scriptures . . .

The second proposition that the earth is not centre, but revolves about the sun is absurd, false in philosophy, and from a theological point of view at least opposed to the true faith.'

(Religion and Science).

"And as it was not enough, the Jesuit Father Melchior In-chofer postulated that 'the opinion of the earth's motion is of all heresies the most abominable, the most pernicious, the most scandalous; the immovability of the earth is thrice sacred; arguments against the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and the Incarnation should be tolerated sooner than an argument to prove that the earth moves.'

(Religion and Science).

Faced with this ruthless oppression, the scientists, in their turn, denounced Christianity as "anti-intellectual, anti-science, a pack of superstitions and degrading to human progress." What is not understandable is that they aimed their broad-side to all the religions; certainly Islam can never be termed 'un-scientific, illogical or anti-progress'.

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