Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Applied Religion 101A-- Agriculture

So it seems that Science and Religion are two separate, different, but equally valid ways of knowing. Or so the claim goes, anyway (oddly enough, it appears the majority making that claim are of the religious camp). Of course, science tends to converge on a consensus about a particular topic, and religion tends to stake claims to different answers, which they will defend at any cost.

But hey, they both have things they can contribute. It is clear that, say, agriculture has been historically associated with religion, and more recently with science. So both must help, no? Of course, we could compare the progress made by each camp in the centuries they have been associated with agriculture... but that would not be fair--evidence is part of the scientific way of knowing, which is only one way. It could be that the smaller yields we used to see were of holier crops...

They told me their religion gave “a different way of knowing”,
In addition to experiments, I also learn through prayer;
The precious love of Jesus is what keeps my garden growing—
It’s the fertilizer used, along with water, sun, and air.

While science speaks of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus,
Religion speaks of Angels that can help my plants to grow;
Like Europe meeting Asia at the strait they call the Bosporus,
Both Science and Religion meet where I have weeds to hoe.

Generations of selection give varieties that thrive—
Horticulture, as a science, helps me constantly, I note;
But Religion also helps me! Why, to keep my plants alive,
I make sure, in planting season, that I sacrifice a goat!

There are artificial pesticides, or totally organic,
And the scientific knowledge can support me either way,
And Religion also tells me I have no real need to panic—
There are prayers and incantations that can keep the bugs away!

When the time has come to harvest, then technology and Science
Have combined to help me multiply the bounty of the fields.
And, of course, the Gods and Angels where I’m placing my reliance
Are (I’m certain) doing something to the quantity of yields.

The power of Religion, as I pray for intervention
While the atheistic farmers on their tractors point and smirk,
Is tremendous and insightful, though I think I ought to mention
I’m beginning to discover… that it really doesn’t work.


Kuyper said...

Science asks questions that may never be answered. Religion provides answers that may never be questioned.

george.w said...

So tempting to post on the bulletin board of some rural church here in Illinois, just to see the reaction...

klatu said...

Religion that doesn't work is about to pass into history, demolished by religion that does! Revolutionary stuff for those that can handle it?

Sili said...

I vaguely recall claims that the religion infused farming practices of Bali turned out to be far superior to 'modern' methods when they were introduced.

That is not to say that the religious claims were true, but through the centuries the whole system had been infused with empirical evidence as to what was the best way of getting a good harvest. Only it was - not surprisingly - handed down wrapped in superstition.

I don't believe Rudolf Steiner's crazy ideas about 'biodynamics' work though. Nought but modernday magic (crush quartz, bury it in a cow's horn and use it as a fertilizer - wtf?)