Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Redefining Religious Freedom in the USA

By Paul Utukuru

Although religious freedom is guaranteed in the United States, we write “ In God we trust” on our dollar bills and we call ourselves One Nation under God. This is a powerful notion that the founding fathers had come up with, given the religious composition of the people of the New world then and introduced the concept of the separation of Church and State. But today the concept of one Nation under God can also be the most important source of conflicts not only with other non-Western nations but also within ourselves in the coming years unless it is carefully redefined and reinterpreted. That is because we are no longer a Nation of the descendents of English Pilgrims nor merely a Nation of Jews and Christians. There are millions and millions of people now in the United States that belong to other religions and there are millions and millions for whom religion is no more than a mere birthmark. Above all, there are numerous African Americans and some white Americans too that are converting to Islam. For this reason, the word God means different things to different people and in order to retain its sacredness, we must be prepared to let people make their own decisions as to what God is and how they should worship or not worship at all. Central to the success of Democracy anywhere in modern times is religious freedom besides freedom of speech and human rights. Today, we are fortunate to live in a land where these things are guaranteed and religion based persecutions are a thing of the past and our prowess for scientific and cultural achievements is unparalleled anywhere and at anytime in the history of the world.

Therefore, unity within our religious diversity with total separation of not just Church and State but Religion and State should be the hallmark of religious freedom in this wonderful land with the Government being of the people, by the people and for the people to enable Modern America to strengthen its ideals and enable it to play its role as the World Leader more and more effectively in the years to come.

There are many forces at work that threaten the total separation of Religion and State in this country. Political support for evangelism is one of them. More recently, it is the political support for the teaching of intelligence design in public schools. The Intelligent Design Movement is growing stronger and stronger in the USA. Its advocates are pushing more and more vigorously for Intelligent Design to be taught in public school science classes as an alternative to the Darwin’s Theory of evolution. Intelligent Design advocates argue that random genetic drift and natural selection alone cannot account for the "irreducible complexity" observed in biological structures of even rudimentary life forms such as the flagellum of sperm cells and bacteria. A macroscopic example of irreducible complexity, they point out is the human eye, to which Charles Darwin himself called attention. They ask how such a complex mechanism with so many independent parts could have arisen by gradual incremental changes, when the mechanism would not function without all of the parts working together. Supported by robust and sophisticated statistical analyses, they argue that some outside intelligent agency would be needed to specify the complexity involved.

Many Christian groups are interpreting this development in science as proof that the universe has been designed by God as the Bible says. I see this as irrelevant to the scientific contributions of intelligence design theorists. That is because we are immediately confronted with the question as to who and where this God is. Is he, she or it Allah, Yahweh, God the Father or someone else? Is he, she or it outside the created universe or in each and every process of creation? In either case, why is God hiding from us? Once you begin bringing religion into the science curriculum, numerous other issues arise even within the context of the Abrahamic religions. There is no consistency within the worldviews of even these religions. These include such things as the timescales involved and the purpose of evolution not to speak of the controversies surrounding Jesus and Muhammad. Even within Christianity, Catholics have their version and the Protestants theirs with hundreds of secondary variations. The problem gets even more complicated if you bring eastern religions into the picture with their own grossly varying worldviews. While there is harmony and beauty in nature, there is also chaos and uncertainty. Even from a Biblical perspective, while God intended the world to be a perfect world, man’s fall by eating out the tree of knowledge led to his own acquired intelligence. That in turn has contributed to his own involvement in his own evolution and his manipulation of the environment around him. Hinduism has its law of Karma and the theory of Reincarnation to account for evolution with all its positive and negative aspects as we humans see them.

My conclusion is that the scientific content of intelligence design theory should stay within the scientific community till such time that it reaches consensus among scientists themselves if it ever does. In the meanwhile, to force it into public school scientific curricula through political support is against the principle of separation of State and Religion in this land and can very well lead to unnecessary unexpected unrest and revolt in the years to come.

It is my hope that the influential among the citizens of Indian origin in this country will get this message across to the educational authorities involved in this matter in various states of the country.


Links to this post:

Create a Link


Post a Comment

<< Home

Home | Syndicate this site (XML) | Guestbook | Blogger
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors.
Everything else © 2005 Pseudo-Secularism