Two weeks ago, a renowned religious scholar was dauntlessly saying on a TV channel that the earth doesn’t revolve around the sun and it is static. He went far to fortify his theory through holy and sacred reasons and castigated people for teaching science to their children. These statements created an altercation among sane minds of our society. Seems though, these statements are a depiction of repugnance to science due to ignorance of scientific laws. It is to bear in mind here that this is not the first time that such aversion has shown towards science by a particular segment of our society. The tale of hating science is long and bitter in Pakistan.

Few years back, PTI led government in KPK withdrew Darwin’s theory of “Origins of Species” from the secondary school syllabi. Reason? A religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, threatened to quit the PTI-led government. JI was of opinion that students might divert from Islamic norms and values if they would understand Darwin’s theory. So, the theory was mocked and lampooned by JI as ‘the most irrational theory of 19th century’. Other than this, the change of the name of National Centre of Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University to Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics created ruckus midst religious segments. The religious parties and Islamic Ideology Council expressed their wrath and threatened of a nationwide protest. The government reverted its decision later.

It is interesting here to broaden the canvas of ‘reaction to the scientific laws’. Is it only the Muslim orthodoxy that hates science and its teachings? Probably not. Every society, secular or conservative, has gone through the same dilemma. Before Renaissance, the churches in Europe had the sole authority to decide the religious and social matters of people. The popes had deep aversion for scientific laws as they deem it contrary to Christian religious doctrines. They considered the scientific discoveries as if undermining their very own authority upon people. The wife of the Bishop of Worcester, when informed about Darwin's theory, commented, “Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it may not become generally known.”

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It is Christian orthodoxy that fought a long and brutal battle with scientific discoveries. The churches in Europe were deeply critical to independent thinking and scientific inventions. There are instances when hundreds of thinkers and heretics were tortured and killed. A dissent from religious dogmas and preaching were considered intolerable. Bishop Usher preached to thousands that world came into being at 9 am, Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. John Wycliffe, a philosopher, provided adequate evidences to Usher, of fossils that earth was made some hundred thousand years ago. As his notion was contrary to doctrines of Bishop, John Wycliffe was killed and his bones were broken into pieces and were thrown into sea.

The repugnance of Christian orthodoxy towards science is incomplete without mentioning Galileo. He remained controversial not because of his massive contribution to science but a conflict with Pope Paul V. The pope ordered him to abandon the theory of heliocentrism. On his refusal, Galileo was brought forth to Vincenzo Maculani and was charged imprisonment on the grounds of suspect of heresy.

Let’s come back to Pakistani society where religious fundamentalism is profound. Our religious orthodoxy considers that with the promotion of science in the society, their narrative will get diluted. Our social and religious order, one way or another, is dependent on the rules laid down by religious segments of our society. For instance, the society looks up to religious scholars who are adamant that moon sighting is a religious issue rather than a scientific one. Today, if a mobile application tells us the exact timings and location of sun rise and sunset; the birth and fading off of moon in any city of whatever country, it has nothing to do with confrontation with religious dogmas. The religious scholar that propounded an instantaneously made theory that earth is static and does not revolve around sun is mere an attempt to create controversy. Being devoid of logic is either ignorance or sheer dislike to subject and in result the entire society, at times, pays the cost of ignorance to science.

The role of religious orthodoxy in Europe and Pakistan remained more or less, the same. Just like Mullahs here, the religious orthodoxy in Europe was afraid of losing the sentimental support of masses. In Pakistan, it is also the matter of obtaining votes for the religious parties. The theory of Darwin wasn’t founded on the principles of clash with faiths nor the theory of Galileo’s. They were based on calculations and evidences. The beauty of science is that, as if to refute a scientific theory, a more accurate scientific theory should be introduced. It is because in the nature of science to always bring forth a discovery on the basis of tangible ideas.  As long as fundamentalism seeps through the roots of our religious beliefs, independent thinkers will not envision; scientists will not be made and the society will not progress. Societies can’t be run for long on religious sentiments. Europe has come out of the influence of church centuries ago and it led them to make great discoveries in the field of science. Our society yet to battle the myopic mindset that hates science.

To prove his notion publicly, that religious scholar must bring cogent arguments. Lest, it is just a cry of an ignorant.