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Olabode Ibrahim: RELIGION AND SCIENCE: HOW CAN THEY WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE THE COUNTRY GREAT?

Since man was smart enough to differentiate between science and religion, there has been a divide between the two, a glaring chasm, and it has only intensified over the centuries. With no hope that the chasm between the practitioners of the two will be bridged anytime soon, let us discuss the advantages for grabs if the two actually work together. I know, it seems impossible. Of course, this is also seen in Nigerian where there aren’t half as much scientists as we have religious leaders. But what if the two schools of thought could work hand-in-hand? What if they can combine seamlessly? Well, the result would be so favourable, it could help even a country like Nigeria and make the weak giant of Africa mighty again.
Here are some ways in which religion can work together with science to make the country a better place. The points I will list herein will take advantage of the two concepts to the point of exploitation, so the notion that religion should not influence a country greatly will be waived. Also, I will not mention a particular religion, as that may lead to religious debates -something I actively try to avoid.
First, what is science? According to the English wikitionary, science is a particular discipline or branch of learning, especially one dealing with measurable or systematic principles rather than intuition or natural ability I.e enlightenment brought about by cold hard facts.
Religion on the other hand is the belief in and worship of a supernatural controlling power, especially a personal god or gods. That is, submitting yourself to an absrcat concept, having faith in an all mighty being. From the definitions above, we can easily tell the difference in the two fields and why they probably will never agree with each other. The following however, are the benefits in a country where, by some miracle, science and religion can work together.
Religion should cease the popularly preached notion that science will bring an end to the world as we know it, this will in turn make more people approach the profession of scientist, refocus our energy and consequently venture into new territories and push boundaries which will inevitably result in innovation and new scientific discoveries.
Now, there is need for religion to be a sounding board for science, to better make the latter unearth research that will skyrocket the nation’s economy. If scientists are allowed to go any length in findings, without any impedance from religion, many a number of youth will drift towards knowledge, and so make the country economic knowledge driven. This can be achieved through grassroots effort. Mentality of Nigerians need to be changed, while most youths and old people have a rigid way of thinking, younger generations do not. Religion should take advantage of this fact to make the country better alongside science. A lot of people in this age are not curious, they passively finish their education and they expect to become salary earners, not much people are diving into the scientist profession and with good reason. As far back as anyone can tell, science has always disproved religion(the shroud of Turin is an example), and religion has more often than not, steered people away from scientific discoveries (most especially the notion that technological implants will make the Antichrist take control of the world). Various religions preach about the end of the world and that it will be brought about by science(the pope excommunicated both Galileo and Davinci due to radical believes influenced by science) , various religions also encourage citizens to play it safe and never actually take risks -except of course, a leap of faith. If these doctrines were to be changed, perspectives changed and people became less scared of breaking new grounds and pushing envelopes, new discoveries and innovations would be made, especially in the world of science in Nigeria. This in turn will raise the standard of the country among other global nations.
Changing the mentality of the populace and how we view new innovations will have reverberating effects. If these archaic believes were to change, and religion modified its educational approach to young ones which would encourage them to practise science instead of rejecting it, the way of thinking will change, and more citizens would become scientist. Instead of dreading technology’s new height, we would sought out ways to invent new things, make new findings which would lead to the general productivity of the country. When new hybrids of plants and animals and new agriculture practises are introduced by science, upon meticulous testing and examination, if such new developments are shown to pose absolutely no harm to humans, It would have been because religion helped to shape the mindset of the generation that produced it.
Religion holds the power of sway in the country, more than 60 percent of Nigerians attend religious gatherings at least once a week and they listen to their religious leader. This has a potential that has always been abused. If religious leaders desist from supporting corrupt government officials and instead preach the truth and only the truth during sermons, this nigh limitless power of sway and convincing of the citizens could be tapped into for the benefit of the country. Apart from convincing the populace to use agricultural products produced by the country and enhanced by local scientists which would reduce exporting and subsequently increase the standard of living since local produce are often cheap, religion can also help to create awareness for various global issues e.g the issue of global warming. This may be quite unbelievable, but most people dismiss the news of the depletion of the ozone layer by the waste products that humans release to be nothing more than farce, they believe that God will protect us and that the end is not now and so the ozone cannot be depleted. Most even term it conspiracy theories. Imagine if religious leaders convince their congregation with facts produced by scientists about the dangers of global warming and they encourage the planting of trees and gardening. Everyone would be able to grow basic food ingredients in their backyard and at the same time we would gradually halt global warming through the oxygen produced by the trees planted. How does this help the country? Global warming and the practices that lead to it e.g deforestation and unorthodox farming methods all lead to a lot of detrimental conditions which affects the country greatly. Some of these adverse conditions are; unstable and fluctuating climatic conditions(most importantly precipitation), the drying of various water bodies e.g lake Chad which used to be 100 times its current size , death and subsequent endangerment of many plants and animals including endemic species(species found only in Nigeria). Scientific researchers have found that in time fish and other aquatic organisms that we consume and export will be extinct, we won’t have consistent rainfall which is important to farming and refilling the dried up water bodies. Subsequently, the country’s source of foreign exchange would be negatively affected (Shrimp is the second largest non-oil foreign exchange in Nigeria). But if global warming was to be halted, and recovery starts, all these would be prevented, more produce would be available for the populace and Nigeria’s economy would boom.
Enlightenment and motivation. Transparency and accountability of political leaders could be assured. We all know that governors, presidents and ministers are corrupt and they loot the national treasures, if in a way it was possible to actually catch them at what they do and they returned even half of what they have stolen, Nigeria would be better for it(Abacha’s recovered loot is a testament). Religious leaders could guide the political leaders towards financial transparency instilling in them. If this doesn’t work, the religious leaders could call out corrupt government officials, and since they would certainly deny it and try to cover their trail, because religion has learnt to embrace science, scientific tools like statistics could be used to expose these government officials, numbers don’t lie -and if religion was helping EFCC and not try to hide every government official that donated to the church, this would be way more successful.
Religious leaders could inspire scientists that attend church to make findings and break new frontiers since they are confident that they will end up finding God to be the Supreme being. This in turn will make scientists try out new things. Science will in turn strengthen people’s faith. This would promote peace in the country. Science working to push people into the faith and make them closer to God for the sake of peace in the country. Peace is an indispensable factor in a society, and one has to look to the north, where there is prevalence of Fulani herdsmen attacks and Boko Haram killings to be convinced of this. Religion should not reject science because it disproves some of its theories, instead, it should embrace it. Science supplies facts and facts are double edged swords, they weed out anything that is not the truth. Since religious leaders are so sure of the Supreme being they worship, they should not be scared of the researches undertaken by scientists, if anything, they should support them, because they are convinced that at the end of the day, science would discover that there is a supreme being. This would bridge the gap between various religious sects and they may even agree that they serve the same God.

About Oluseyi Komolafe

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