Thursday, October 18, 2012

By Religion and Science Alike

I have grown weary of the science verses religion rhetoric as of late. The argument always pans out along the lines of: religion tried to pray the disease away and everyone died, meanwhile science went to Mars and there was much rejoicing. The details used on each side change but the discourse is the same. I cannot speak for the various fundamentalist expressions of religion within Western society. I can, however, speak a bit about Contemporary Paganism and even more specifically in regards to certain Traditions that exist therein.

The sentiment of what is trying to get conveyed is not lost on me. I completely agree that the examples are absurd and even worse so because they are true. However, blasting all within the spectrum of religion is hurtful. It is hurtful to those of us within the scientific and religious communities alike. It degrades who we are and devalues our intelligence, humanity, and compassion towards others. I’m not saying that the problem that fundamentalism poses shouldn’t be talked about. Nor am I saying that one is right over the other. All I am saying is that this rhetoric further fuels the division within society that creates the us verses them paradigm.

As a Witch I stand firmly with one foot in the realm of religion and one in the realm of science. Here though, I feel the need to digress yet again. I know that the Classical Monotheistic definitions of religion have dominated Western thought for a very very very long time. These same definitions are only further hardened against the perceived enemies of the fundamentalists by said fundamentalists into mainstream Western culture. Science/secularism/modernism are determined to be threats and so a line is drawn and a wall thrown up to keep the chosen in and the unsaved out.  But what able all the various religions and religious people that neither fall into that definition, into fundamentalism, or in any way reject science/secularism/modernism? Humanity is much more complex than this.

When I was a young Dedicant one of the many things I was told to do was to find and read all the books, which included books on science. In fact, I was specifically told to read books about science because it is important to understand how the world works. This is important because the theology of Contemporary Paganism is based upon the observable natural world around us. And guess what? So is science.

Even deeper than this, within our theology there is a firm rhetoric of balancing on one hand the mythic and on the other hand the literal. Our religion embraces science and our spirituality is informed by it. I and Witches/Pagans/what-have-you are perfectly capable of seeing the world around us simultaneously from the stance of religion and of science. There is a saying within the Religious Witchcraft community that relates our relationship with the world nicely; “If we do not observe Yule the Sun will not rise in the morning, but only a large ball of burning gas.” The commonality of the human existence needs to be emphasized and not further divided by stereotyping using definitions as if they were all inclusive when in fact they are not all inclusive.

So I know that was all a bit rant’ish, it is just something I am passionate about. No hard feelings science (or advocates thereof); I still love you.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

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