Guest Viewpoint for Sunday — October 30, 2005

• Heart and mind, faith and knowledge

Heart and mind, faith and knowledge

By Larry Feinstein

A mere several centuries ago, America’s fore-fathers had the foresight to segregate church and state. With all of their faults, including slave ownership and the absence of equal rights for both genders, they somehow were able to understand the danger of combining religion with the business of the state. Whether the Inquisition or contemporary tragedy in the Middle East, our human story abounds with examples of righteousness and the exercise of power making much too comfortable lovers.

Now, we have religion at war with science in the classroom. It is impossible to think of two more disparate systems. In science, the heretic is the Nobel-Prize winner, and in religion it is the ostracized. Religion and science are meant to coexist in our society in an uncomfortable truce, laden with tolerance above all else.

It is the role of science to always question the status quo. Basic tenets in that discipline are continually being tested and improved upon. The truth is acknowledged to be transitory. Religion, on the other hand, is intended to promote a heartfelt peace and comfort with what is. Its greatest strength is in providing each of us with shelter from the storm.

Science is always looking for the answer, and this is a universal impetus behind all its findings. It is linear in the sense that it is laser-focused on finding one answer to one question. Religions are as varied in their answers to their respective origins as the names of their gods. In order for intelligent design to be truly intelligent, it needs to present the incredibly varied explanations for creation, alongside science’s obsession with answering every imaginable question, one at a time.

Until now, the mind has simply not been able to grasp or define what happened “In the beginning…” None of us will ever know if the very first awakening of our long-ago relations was a feeling or a thought. Einstein was a highly-spiritual being, and the more he was able to scientifically prove, the more he realized he would never know all of the answers. The mind puts us on a treadmill without end, and it is religion or faith that is able to comfort us with a gentle embrace.

Faith and knowledge are meant to coexist and not comingle. As this country continues to embrace its mandate as a place of freedom, more and more religions and cultures will achieve political prominence. Once the funds are found to reintroduce art and music to our schools, it would be invaluable for our children to be exposed to the variety of cultures and religions that coexist in our country, keeping in mind that public schools are intended to reflect the separation of church and state, which has absolutely no bearing on their respective importance to each of us.

Striking very close to home, the religions of native people in this country have been nearly destroyed by the inclusion of the dominant society’s view of church into the classroom, and done so in a very purposeful, lethal manner. The heart and mind of man need to be individually nurtured, not denied or compromised by attempting to combine them.

  • Larry Feinstein is a Koloa resident

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