Wednesday, May 31, 2017
The Correlation Between Science and Religion in Life Of Pi
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” (Albert Einstein). This connection between two supposedly opposite beliefs is explored in Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, a story of a teenage Indian boy and his 227 day ordeal at sea with only a 450 pound royal bengal tiger to accompany him. The tale follows the protagonist, Piscine (Pi) Molitor Patel, as he seeks meaning in his life through faith in both spirituality and reason. When put to the greatest test of survival, it becomes evident that his open minded attitude is what aids him. Martel uses Pi in order to portray that a balance of both religion and science in one is practical and essential.
The encounter between Mr. Kumar, Pi’s biology teacher and the first devout atheist he meets, and Mr. Kumar, a humble baker who indulges Pi into Islam, symbolizes his views on both science and religion. Pi has a deep respect for both men, despite their opposing views on religion. His biology teacher believes “religion is darkness” (Martel 29), while the baker is a faithful muslim who says his religion is “about the Beloved” (67). When these two meet at the zoo, they share a peaceful moment in which they split a carrot to feed to a zebra. Although they have different methods of feeding the zebra and opinions on how the animal itself came to be, they are both able to agree that it is a beautiful creature. Along with the fact that they share identical names, Martel uses this fateful encounter to suggest that these two different beliefs can coincide with one another. Even though Pi prefers to believe in god, he views atheists such as Mr. Kumar as “brothers and sisters of a different faith” (31). He sees reason as a belief on its own and relates himself to atheists. He thinks “like [him], they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and they leap” (31) in order to explain what cannot be justified by reason. Pi is greatly influenced by these two mentors of his, as it is “Mr. and Mr. Kumar [who lead him] to study zoology and religious studies at the University of Toronto” (67). It is his commitment to religion, and respect for science that influence him to study a seemingly odd combination of life passions, and still be at peace within himself.
Pi’s vast knowledge of science and belief in reason helps him survive on the lifeboat. After his journey, he tells the Japanese reporters that “[he] applied reason at every moment. Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away” (330-331). Here, Pi emphasizes that reason is a major contributor to his survival. Because of it, Pi is able to gather all basic necessities for living on the lifeboat. Furthermore, by using science in the form of zoology, Pi manages to ensure that Richard Parker does not harm him. He m...