Life, the universe and everything

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Ever since man could look up at the sky and wonder at the stars and his own existence, the debate over how things came into being has continued to rage.

This thorny issue of creation was taken up at The Second Floor (t2f) on Thursday evening, by Salman Hameed, Assistant Professor of Integrated Science and Humanities at Hampshire College, who delivered a lecture on the vastly different approaches science and religion, have taken to tackle humanity’s unending questions regarding life, the universe, and the existence of everything.

Addressing the near full-capacity crowd, Hameed introduced the scientific narrative of our creation, including a broad, yet engaging look at the Big Bang Theory and Evolutionary theory. The lecture was an eye opener for many in the audience as Hameed outlined irrefutable evidence, including the recorded expansion of the universe, chain formations of galaxies and fossilised links to our origins. The methodology and research highlighted the fact that both these theories often criticised and rejected by most religions, are actually accepted as fact with proven results.

“In this age we can finally say which of our creation myths are wrong through testing,” says Hameed, “but this does not negate religion, as science only answers how things operate, leaving people free to enrich their religious experience with the ongoing narration.” However, Hameed was quick to point out that the conflict between science and religion arises when a divine explanation is imposed on a particular scientific enquiry, thus limiting research into that field.

The debate which followed the lecture cut quickly to religious arguments against the scientific method and the confusion it generates for religious people. One young audience member said he could find no way to reconcile the scientific model of the world with his religious beliefs. Yet another stated that science had a limit to what it could answer. What, after all came after the Big Bang?

Hameed accepted that science had questions, which is still in the process of answering, and as such, scientists are constantly tackling issues which lie, “between the known and the unknown.” However, he said that religious beliefs did not have to negate a scientific view of the world, as science could be accommodated as a means of explaining how God operates. “Even Allama Iqbal believed firmly in the theory of evolution, without it having to conflict with his faith,” he cited.

The engaging discussion was part of a monthly series of lectures, debates and film viewings led by the Science Ka Adda project, hosted at t2f. “It is part of a global programme called, ‘Café Scientifique’ explains Zakir Thaver, who heads the project. “The aim of such debates is to take science down from its ivory tower and introduce it to the layman on a platform which allows open dialogue.”

Published in The News.

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