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We have been seeing some posts along these lines on WhatsApp and social media these days:

“Temples have closed their doors on us at the time of crisis; it is doctors who are out there saving lives, so they are the real God.”
“Don’t donate to temples; donate to medicine and science, because it saves lives.”

I would like to gently question this line of thinking. Of course, it is understood that people sometimes use hyperbole to emphasize a point; that said, it is also equally important to maintain a semblance of balance. Regardless of whether you believe in the existence of something like God or not, here are a few pointers to encourage some in-depth thinking:

  • A doctor saves a life by medical intervention during a serious illness that occurs perhaps once, perhaps twice, perhaps ten times in an entire lifetime. Social organisations (including religion-based ones like temples and Gurudwaras) feed millions of hungry people every single day, and save them from death and malnutrition every single day. They don’t get accolades or medals, nor do they seek any. Is there any sensible and reasonable way to compare these two giant contributions? Is there even a need to?
  • The current system of medicine is a money making machine that is focused on profits, not health. Remember we’re not talking about individual doctors – there are many who are indeed wonderful people worthy of our respect and gratitude – but about “the system” (the companies, the hospitals, and the individuals who run those systems, including doctors). Many decisions pushed by “the system” are not necessarily in the best interests of the people who are in need of healing. I’ve had a very close friend pass away due to the callousness and indifference of doctors. I’ve also seen doctors put fear into people to make them choose expensive treatments, and try to overcharge people to the maximum extent that they can. This doesn’t mean we should lose faith in all doctors, but let us also not overlook these facts and use a sweeping statement like “Doctors are God”. By the same measure, let us also accept that temples and places of worship are not the solution to everything either.
  • When science has reached it’s limits and doctors give up all hope, what do they tell people? “Pray”. People have experienced revivals that were impossible according to science. How does one categorise those? Who has the right to categorise them anyway … the people who survived impossible odds, the people who prayed for a miracle, or a third party who was not involved in the event? Personally, I’d say let’s be humble and allow the people who went through the situation to decide what helped them when there was no hope. Let’s not be so arrogant as to preach to others and force our personal opinions on them in the egoistic belief that “I know, I am right, I am scientific“. We know nothing in the larger scheme of the universe.
  • According to “science”, the probabililty of life existing on earth is mathematically almost zero. And yet, here we are. Life is expressed on our planet in countless glorious forms, when, according to science, it is mathematically improbable. Scientists are now starting to wonder whether the world was actually created by design. We do not know what we will find. There is no theory or explanation in modern science that goes before “The Big Bang”. So, all our of physical sciences, with all the clever discoveries, formulae, inventions and medicines are based on the very unscientific assumption that “there was a big bang and the universe came into existence“. That sounds utterly ridiculous to the logical mind, does it not? Even a little child would question: What existed before it then? Where did the bang happen? What caused it? What passes off as “science” these days has no answer to these very simple questions.
  • Speak to doctors that you know. You will likely find many doctors have a belief in a greater power. Why, if they were “God”, would they need this belief? What energy and strength does it give them? Ask them, and find out.
  • Those of us who have ever been in a situation in our lives where we’ve been utterly desperate, and asked, prayed, even begged for help to a higher power (whether one calls it God, or Nature, or something else) and the help came, then those of us, at least, should not write and forward such things. It is ungrateful, and unbecoming. Go back to those moments when you were desperate, and consider what would have happened if that help had not arrived.
  • I have seen many social organisations and temples in India come forward with massive financial donations, offers of helping with food, volunteers, materials etc. Where would all this help come from if all the donations had gone to “medicine and science” instead of temples?

This article isn’t about pushing a particular agenda. It doesn’t really matter whether someone believes in a higher force or not. The point is to encourage the reader to be a bit more introspective and a bit more humble. It’s quite common to try and show something as being “lower” in order to push a certain opinion and show something else as “higher”. That is because a dull mind can only compare in relative terms. The reality of life is quite different. A wise mind understands that everything has it’s place, and that everything is equally important. Your lungs are as vital to your survival as your heart; the tongue that allows you to experience wonderful tastes is just as important to your full enjoyment of life as the ears that help you to enjoy soothing music. The sweeper who keeps the streets clean as much a “God” as the medical doctor, because without his services, you’d likely die of disease caused by filth. The farmer who grows your food is as much a “God” as anyone else, because without him, you’d starve to death. Let us appreciate all for the work they do and the services they offer; all are equal. Let us celebrate all of life.