Science and religion: Bed fellows or antagonistic?

Wednesday July 21 2021
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Author: Rt Rev Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa is the Bishop of Ankole Diocese. PHOTO/FILE.

By Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa

The philosophy that science and religion are antagonistic is a misnomer and not born out of good theological postulation. If God created the universe and made man in his own image (Gen 1) and empowered him to develop the resources of the earth for the good of mankind (Gen 2), where would the thinking that Science is divorced from religion stem from? If God created man with capacity to think creatively and tame nature, how else could man achieve this task without exercising his mind in such a way as to be exploratory and innovative? 
Since necessity is the mother of invention, in the process of human beings endeavoring to meet their needs, they have used their God given intellect to manipulate the world and give answers to the different problems and challenges through Science. 

The emergence of medicine as a scientific field can be traced to the 5th Century BC when the Hyppocratic Oath was commissioned, which physicians swear, upon entry into the profession. 
Preference of prayer to seeking medical attention has been a quietly debated subject, or perhaps even a taboo, until the onset of Covid 19. 

Prior, there are several voices that have been arguing that once one is a strong believer in Jesus Christ, then prayer alone was enough to ward off any disease whether cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or even HIV/ AIDS.  
While it is true to argue that prayer alone can heal physical ailments as in response to Mathew 7:7 Ask, it will be given to you, seek you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you; It is also true that not all diseases may be healed solely through prayer. The biggest gifts that the Church today may be lacking is the spirit of discernment (1 Cor 12:10). 

There are times when we need to supplement our prayers with medical attention. While Jesus Christ would heal through just saying a word, healing by touching the sick, spitting on the blind, using clay on the eyes of a blind man, without being physically present etc, the methods of healing theologically point to different modes of healing and not one size fits all. 

It is regrettable that some Christians have shunned medicine and equated it to science and satan, or, the lack of faith on part of a Christian. 
Worse still, for economic reasons some religious leaders stress prayer alone, sadly with a subtle strategy of having exclusive rights to the thanksgiving or gratitude offertory, whether one is healed or not. In the process some Christians have been weaned off medicines like HIV/Aids controlling Anti Retroviral Viral (ARVs) drugs with adverse effects, a subject that has been discussed by Dr. Watiti a Pentecostal pastor cum medic. 

It is not surprising that recently when I published a social media post following my newspaper article advocating the importance of vaccination, one born again Christian sought to bring me to order by questioning my faith since I was choosing science over faith! In the email, she referred me to a pastoral letter written by Prophet Mbonye showing how some religious leaders will miss God’s visitation by relying on temporal agents and ignoring the supernatural that includes listening to the voice of the prophet during the virus situation. 

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During the Covid 19 pandemic, we have seen Bishops of the Anglican and Catholic churches, Pentecostal leaders and Muslim Sheiks dying of Covid 19. Can we say all these were men of little faith? Not at all! The Pope is only recovering following an operation on his colon. Isn’t he supreme faith leader of billions? Thanks to medical interventions and prayers some religious leaders have escaped Covid 19. According to a story in the media, 68 year old Pastor Simon Kayiwa testified to the use of medicine, herbals and prayer in overcoming Covid 19. 

The testimonies of over 40 people in my mobile phone, including born again Christians, who have battled Covid 19 through medicine, herbals and prayer cannot be dismissed, as of people who are any less born again or lacking faith. 
There are instances where science may question the validity of some religious claims or precepts and where religion may query some scientific principles, but in the main, science and seligion are bed fellows and complement each other instead of being antagonistic.

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