Nalzaro: Religion and science are incompatible

·4 min read

Religion, faith and science are indeed incompatible. Religion and science both offer explanations for why life and the universe exist. Science relies on tested empirical evidence and observation. Religion relies on subjective belief in a creator. Religious faith is of two kinds: evidence-sensitive and evidence insensitive. The former views faith as closely coordinated with demonstrable truths. The latter more strictly as an act of the will of the religious believer alone. The former includes evidence garnered from the testimony and works of other believers.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a new disease. Even powerful and advanced countries like the United States and China are scrambling how to address and contain the spread of the virus. Thank you to science because scientists were able to find ways to counter the pandemic through various vaccines manufactured.

But despite the scientific discovery to counter Covid-19, there are people who use traditional medicines and religious belief as a cure for the disease. Look at what is happening in the subcontinent. The devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic in India has resulted in 22.66 million cases and 246,116 deaths reported so far.

Experts say actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher and citizens across the country are struggling to find hospital beds, oxygen or medicines. Many have died for lack of treatment. Because of this situation, some residents in the State of Gurajat in western India have been going to cow shelters once a week to cover their bodies in cow dung (manure) and urine in the hope it will boost their immune system against or help them recover from the coronavirus.

That’s what we call “faith.” In Hinduism, the cow is a “sacred” symbol of life and the earth and for centuries Hindus have used cow manure to clean their homes and for prayer rituals, believing it has therapeutic and antiseptic properties. Even some doctors have reportedly joined citizens in this practice.

As participants wait for the dung and urine mixture on their bodies to dry, they hug or honor the cows at the shelter and practice yoga to boost energy levels. The packs are then washed off with milk or buttermilk. However, doctors and scientists in India and across the world have repeatedly warned against practicing alternative treatments as this might offer a false sense of security and complicate health problems.

“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine works to boost immunity against Covid-19. It is based entirely on belief,” said Dr. JA Jayalal, president of the Indian Medical Association.

For us non-believers, it is funny. It’s unhealthy, untidy and messy. But what can we do? That is their belief. I don’t want to inject illiteracy or ignorance here. There are more Indians who are literate and intellectual than there are Filipinos. Although their literacy rate is 74.04 percent in 2021, while the Philippines’ was 91.06 percent in 2019.

But don’t laugh at their belief, especially the Roman Catholic faithful. Why? One of the attractions of religious tourists visiting Israel is the Dead Sea or the Salt Sea located between Jordan and Israel. Most visitors want to swim and take a bath or mudding in the Dead Sea. This is one of the religious beliefs practiced a long time ago by Christians and Jews there.

What’s the connection between the mud in the Dead Sea and our physical and spiritual needs? Nothing. But that is their belief. It’s pointless to argue about faith and belief. We have muddy beaches here like in Asturias, Cebu, but why still go to Israel? The only difference is we have no “Dead Sea” here.

Adopting “tuob” (steam inhalation), a traditional medicine, is a little bit more dependable compared to what is practiced in India. Why? Remember that Covid is a respiratory disease and steam inhalation is one of the most widely used home remedies to soothe and open the nasal passages and get relief from the symptoms of a cold or sinus infection.

“Tuob” is also called steam therapy. It involves the inhalation of water vapor. The warm, moist air is thought to work by loosening the mucus in the nasal passages, throat and lungs. This may relieve symptoms of inflamed, swollen blood vessels in our nasal passages. At least in “tuob,” there is a connection to our respiratory system. But bathing in cow’s manure has no connection to our respiratory and immune system. Maayo pay motumar tag herbal medicine ani kanang gipang-advertise sa radyo.

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