How coronavirus outbreak triggered another debate on ‘Science vs Religion’

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 28, 2020, 12.56 AM(IST) Edited By: Sonal Gera

Bolsanaro Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

While Science is doing its best — in the form of the medical staff working day and night to save the lives of many, religion has been losing ground. Commentators are at a loss of words — and they certainly don’t know how to define their mission.

Ever since the coronavirus broke out, the most hackneyed debate has taken over — yet again. The one on ‘Science vs Religion’.

While Science is doing its best — in the form of the medical staff working day and night to save the lives of many, religion has been losing ground. Commentators are at a loss of words — and they certainly don’t know how to define their mission.

More than 566,000 people are known to have been infected globally, and roughly 25,000 have died. 

And while the hospitals remain open in the time of crisis, it’s the doors of temples, mosques, and churches that have been closed. From the Vatican to Mecca-Medina, the most sacrosanct religious sites have shut their doors for the common public.

Yet for some, communal worship is a norm. Take Brazil for example. 

Presdident Jair Bolsonaro has given in to the church and decreed places of worship as essential services. For all his promises of aggressive containment measures, Bolsonaro has exempted churches from coronavirus confinement orders.

In fact, his decree permits religious activities of any kind. And this is happening in Brazil — which has recorded close to 3,000 cases and 77 deaths due to COVID-19.

In Pakistan too, hardline clerics are still being allowed to summon their followers to mosques....

In addition, the Imran Khan government is yet to formally ban friday prayers. In fact two weeks back, a religious congregation with 50,000 people in attendance took place in Lahore.

This was on March 11 — Pakistan witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases then.

There were present delegations from over 90 countries at the event.

The result — two Palestinian nationals tested positive for the virus upon returning home.

So did some participants from Malaysia. And at least seven Pakistani citizens were infected.

The area is now under lockdown.

The Pakistan government is struggling to trace those who attended it.

This has not been the case with India — as social gatherings are being totally avoided.

Even the most religious sects are following the government's decision for a complete nationwide lockdown.

But this does call for a debate — when Science is supporting the survival amid a global health scare, isn’t religion putting in a grave danger of perhaps losing your life?

Who wins, then?