Sat | May 26, 2018

Faith vs reason

Published:Saturday | July 13, 2013 | 12:00 AM


In a rambling, convoluted article in The Sunday Gleaner ('Science and religion: clash of two faiths', July 7, 2013), Mr Martin Henry, a communications specialist, no less, unleashed vitriolic ad hominem remarks:

"Some of the puff-chested doctors-cum-priests of science and a wide variety of coat-tail-hanging quacks emerge to advise us that religion and particularly Christianity is terminally ill. This is especially strange since modern science is irrefutably a product of Christian faith, more particularly of Protestant Christian faith."

Henry's remarks, highly unbecoming of a communications specialist, were specially directed at Dr Patrick White, the author of an excellent article 'Christianity losing the race against science'. I envy Dr White. Alas, being modestly endowed, not being puff-chested or even hairy-chested, hopefully with a bit of luck, Mr Henry will also include me in that illustrious and distinguished group of doctors.

Not only is Mr Henry a poor communicator, but he obviously needs a lesson in history. As every attentive high-school student will tell him, the pagan Greeks in Aristotle's time, around the 4th century BCE, invented reason, developing the formal science of logic, philosophy, mathematics and rhetoric.

Christianity was, from the beginning, based on scriptures, inspiration and revelation, not reason. That Christianity was not only responsible but necessary for the rise in modern science is delusional. Pagans set the stage for ancient science, Galen in medicine, and Ptolemy in astronomy, etc.

When the Roman empire collapsed in the 5th century, pagan society retreated. Christianity, being the dominant power, did not restore the pagan scientific values, but instead sealed the fate of science by putting an end to all scientific progress.

Modern science did develop in a Christian milieu in the hands of scientists who were indeed Christians (Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, etc.). Yes, Christianity can be made compatible with science. Christianity only had to embrace those old pagan values that once drove scientific progress and craftily invented Christian arguments in accord with Christian theology and the Bible.

Had Christianity not interrupted the intellectual advance of mankind, our science and technology would be a thousand years more advanced.

Henry mentions White's main goal is to establish a scientific basis for homosexuality. Well, why not? Religion has no access to the truth. Without science, we are left in the dark. With experiments and observation, science tries to find the causes of homosexuality by studying the brain, genetics, hormonal influences and epigenetics. Only recently, a heterosexual man, after a stroke, developed homosexual behaviour, changed his macho profession, and became a hairdresser.

But the Christian fringe, how do they respond? No amount of rational thinking here. Rabid and fuming with rage, they holler, "Homosexuality is a sin; it is unnatural!" One minister even promised that he would die if necessary should the buggery law be repealed - a dramatic, if laughable attempt to garner support, a threat which I doubt would be carried out.

Why is homosexuality STILL a sin but working on the day of rest, Sunday (for some Christians), is now acceptable and we don't stone adulterers anymore? In Jamaica, we would surely run out of stones.

If homosexuality is unnatural, why do many animal species, 1,500 species and counting (we are also animals, in case you did not know), perform homosexual behaviour?


The raging question which has sparked numerous debates: Are homosexuals born or made? Why does it matter? As far as the law goes, it is potentially important. If homosexuality is biologically determined, a characteristic over which we have no choice, the law should not treat gays and straights differently, since homosexuality would be equivalent to one's race, over which we have no control.

Of course, there is the moral aspect, which is not always compatible with the law. To my mind, homosexuals should be accorded the same rights as heterosexuals.

The question should be, is homosexuality harmful to society? Should homosexuals be free to live their lives as heterosexuals? Not ask the imponderables - is homosexuality a sin?

Whether enchanted by a blaze of vibrant colour of a tropical sunset or mesmerised by the haunting melody of Yanni's Nightingale, ultimately, it is the truth that matters; life's truth coming from a puff-chested scientist/atheist/agnostic based on proven facts and experiments, or from a bald-headed theologian based on faith. It's your choice.

Ethon Lowe is a medical doctor. Email feedback to and