What effect on science would be felt if people stopped believing in the old religions?
The fact of believing is the greatest barrier in the progress of science. In three hundred years science has done much in spite of all the religions, their superstitions, their beliefs. In these three hundred years, there would have been at least a hundred times more progress if religions had not come in the way at each step. Science has been struggling inch by inch.
If people stop believing in the old religions there will be a tremendous explosion of wisdom, creativity, affluence. All the things that religions have been promising people in paradise are now possible here on this earth.
We have the know-how, we have high technology to do it – but there are two barriers. One is our religious beliefs; the second is our political divisions.
Religions and nations: these are the two barriers.
It has to be understood that politics gives direction to scientific research to be more destructive. The politician is in the service of death. He does not want this earth to become a paradise, for the simple reason that if people are utterly contented, fulfilled, blessed, then who is going to bother about wars, nations, ideologies? These are things you think about when you are miserable, suffering.
The second great barrier, far bigger even, is our attachment to the dead past and its religions.
I am reminded of Galileo. He was almost on his deathbed – old, tired, spent. He was dragged to the court of the Christian pope because in his book, which he was completing, he had written that the sun does not go around the earth, but the earth goes around the sun.
This is against biblical faith. The Bible says just what you see – you see the sunrise in the morning, sunset in the evening, and again next day. To our perception the sun is going around the earth, but this is not the fact. The Bible simply states the common layman’s viewpoint. It is not science.
Galileo was told that he had to change the statement because it goes against the Bible. He said, “There is no problem. I am a dying man, and if I don’t change it, you are going to burn it, ban it. I will change it, but one thing you must remember: that my changing the statement does not change the fact. The earth will still go around the sun. My statement has nothing to do with the earth going around the sun or the sun going around the earth. I am simply stating a fact.”
But the pope said, “You will have to change it. Don’t you worry about the sun and the earth – God takes care of it.”
Galileo finally asked, “I have a question. Why is a single statement creating so much disturbance in you, hostility in you?”