Knowing and believing – religious knowledge

It’s a changing world, the world of anachronism, the world to look at the future with new faith and where after every minute something or other is added in our daily list. The same is true with Knowledge, which is always changing with the change in time and with the change in the people’s attitude and behavior patterns.

The knowledge is not a new concept but has been taking the world by stride since centuries but the most important crust of the knowledge is its speed. In the way the technology is changing very fast, the whole concept of imparting and gaining knowledge is also changing very fast.  There has been a considerable shift from the traditional mode of imparting knowledge to the whole new range of knowledge of inventions and studies for the growth and over all development in every sphere of socio-economic, political, religious trends etc.

From agricultural to industrial and from social to religious to bestow the knowledge, there are always experts and new range of knowledge expertise in the complexities of new technologies is taking place and in this bid of newness, our desire to know more keep on increasing. There has also been complete change in the receptive capacity of the people towards this knowledge basis expertise. For e.g.

Challenge and resistance to dominant technologies, some post modernists see these approaches and the knowledge revolution as more political and democratic whereas risk social theories focus upon the anxieties that are created through the plethora of information that people receive about possible dangers especially in relation to environmental degradation. This knowledge revolution has led to transformation of politics from the traditional political systems and strategies, which have proved incapable of taking contemporary risks and dangers. (Thompson & Woodward _____:122)

The knowledge of experts in relation to religion has always captured and dominated the life of people since centuries. The religious minded people have always considered the religious discourse as a norm of the society and followed their traits but now comparatively less number of people are focusing their attention towards the religion and the religion tenets. The reason is simple; the increase in trend towards the knowledge of materialistic world and the worldly pleasures since industrial revolution dug its deep roots in the soil.

The pursuit of the scientific journey has superceded the quest for religious knowledge, which Rubert Murdoch has amply explained in the Newsweek for 12th July 1999, Is God Dead?  In the, Open the doors — and where are the people, the study was conducted to amplify the trend of Roman Catholic Bastions in Italy and Ireland.

Surveys in the United Kingdom brought out certain facts whereby 75 per cent of the people in Britain have faith in Super Natural powers, but according to the opinion polls, there has been downfall of the belief in God from 45 per cent in 1947 to 37 percent in 1987. The Mass observation survey in 1947 showed that there had been a wide spread belief in God but not among Orthodox Christian lines. (Thompson & Woodward  ________ :52)

This amplifies that people are least inclined in attaining the religious knowledge. The most important reason being the explosion of the private bodies into the religion posing questions and defying the conventions of the traditional religious beliefs held by the people with utmost generosity and faith. The other most important cause is the popularity or secularization so profoundly spread by the leaders of the Modern age and basically of secular functions which were earlier performed by the welfare bodies like religious, education and state which were taken over by the state.

(Thompson & Woodward _____ :44) Moreover, fun and leisure activities have profoundly replaced the organized form of religious activities. And the third reason is the change and shift of the religious thoughts towards more research and thinking over science and other related field of studies. (Thompson & Woodward _______ :44)

Karen Armstrong, in one of the articles in the accompanying article to Fredrick Nietsche, says that since 1970s, religion has once again entered in the domain of the society in such a manner that was being considered as impossible. “The Iranian revolution was a grand success in the Middle East and at the same time the moral majority and the right of the Christians captured the emotions and the mood of the people endeavored to bring back God in the public life whereas ultra orthodox Jews as well as Zionists have also strived to bring religion back in the lives of Isreali people. With this it is amply true that no Government can deny religion.

The assassinations of Anwar Sidat in Egypt and of Yitzhat Rabin in Isreal are reminders of lethal danger of some forms of modern faith.” (Thompson & Woodward _______ :44). Though this statement is a proven fact that it is the knowledge for religion that is gaining momentum in almost all over the world but when it comes to Science, the knowledge for religious quest takes a back seat.

The simplest reason is that the religious knowledge is only based on faith and as said by Ken Thompson & Kate Woodward “Truths Believed”; on the other hand the scientific knowledge is based on the investigations, discoveries and research. To reveal and prove the authenticity and belief in their respective domains, there was a public controversy in the nineteenth century. In the debate that followed in 1860 at Oxford, scientist T.H Huxley said that, “I would rather be descended from an Ape than a bishop”. (Thompson & Woodward _______ :45) But not all scientists disagreed with the evolution of God. Charles Darwin in his “Origin of Species” in 1859 has faith in the God but not in the religion. (Thompson & Woodward _______ :45)

The diversities in the scientific world like in Natural Sciences, there is a common belief among many that Science are related to religion. For e.g. Teil Hard De Chardin, a Jesuit priest and Paleontologist, in 1950s integrated biological and spiritual evolution in a theory of cosmogenesis, which was the blend of science, theology and poetry. Social Scientists tried to take a middle path emphasizing on the fact that without religious beliefs, there is no spiritual growth and satisfaction but they too defy the orthodox religious tenets believing in the religious thoughts and ideologies.

Gender also plays the most important role in posing the question regarding the aspect whether the knowledge of experts in the religious tenets became more or less important in the contemporary society or not? People also tend to believe that Science has provided us with various answers to the questions but there is no answer as far as questions on morality and emotional aspects of our lives are concerned.

This has been answered in the New Age beliefs in which large and large number of people are turning their faith towards spiritual powers like in alternative medicines and green issues to meditation and therapy as a form of ancient knowledge like Alchemy, astrology, myth, dream work, Earth mysteries, Fang Sui. (Thompson & Woodward ______:62)

Some believe that these new age beliefs are taking secular dimensions and have taken shape after the combination of scientific and pseudo scientific ideas and provides moral meaning to our lives, but the science and scientists have no answer to moral meaning. As a result, gap is always left between new age phenomenon on spirituality and scientific thoughts and knowledge.

It is amply true that though Science is posing challenge to the religion and religious tenets yet the religious knowledge is still finding its place in this modernization and high technological world though the essence and the way of the religious teachings is changing with the change in time. Religious knowledge has been imparted to the public in totally different way and in different form than the scientific knowledge.

Religion is a revelatory knowledge whereas Science is an empirical proof and this makes religion more challenging while confronting this scientific knowledge. In the United Kingdom itself, the change in the form and status of religious knowledge has produced uncertainties and different new opportunities. Women are defying the age-old religious conventions of patriarchal hierarchies to produce their own concept of spirituality.

Then the muti-faith societies are opening new chapters to define their own religious thoughts and conceptions on spirituality. Over and above, the new age knowledge is also raising questions on established religious norms; Gender and ethnicity are also shaping the religious thoughts and perspectives. (Thompson & Woodward ______ :72)

The effects of these new approaches are being seen and felt everywhere and in every sphere of our lives. Whenever we are confronted with any issue to find out truth, we are embroiled with different aspects towards the true knowledge. We have diverted from factual realization towards feelings. In this sense, it is amply true that though importance is being given to the knowledge of experts in the contemporary world but the trend, form and way of thinking have changed.

Reference List

Surname, Initial(s). Date. Title. Edition. Place of Publication: Publisher

Thompson K. & Woodward K. ______ Knowing and Believing: Religious Knowledge.




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