Magic, Sience and Religion and Other Essays.

If it is one of the goals of religion to liberate mankind as far aspossible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientificreasoning can aid religion in yet another sense. Although it is true thatit is the goal of science to discover rules which permit the associationand foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reducethe connections discovered to the smallest possible number of mutuallyindependent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rationalunification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes,even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatestrisk of falling a prey to illusions. But whoever has undergone the intenseexperience of successful advances made in this domain is moved by profoundreverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of theunderstanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shacklesof personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitudeof mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which,in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however,appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word. And soit seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse ofthe dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualizationof our understanding of life.

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Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves areclearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between thetwo strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion maybe that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science,in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment ofthe goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who arethoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. Thissource of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To thisthere also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations validfor the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason.I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. Thesituation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame,religion without science is blind.

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For example, a conflict arises when a religious community insists onthe absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. Thismeans an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science;this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileoand Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science haveoften made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect tovalues and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way haveset themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprungfrom fatal errors.

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Bronislaw Malinowski, Magic, Science, and Religion and Other Essays, Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1948

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