Life of Pi: the Correlation Between Science and ReligionGet Your
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Sharmeel Bhatti Ms. Ciufo ENG-3U1 Wednesday, April, 28, 2010 Life of Pi: Correlation between Science and Religion One of the most important dichotomies that exist amongst today is Science versus Religion. A dichotomy that started in the renaissance era, a period when people started questioning, looking to other horizons, other than religion and truly began to comprehend reality. The theme of Science versus Religion is portrayed in a great deal in the novel Life of Pi. In Life of Pi, Yann Martle utilizes the protagonist Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel’s to suggest that humans require both Science and Religion to attain their full potential.
Pi’s experiences prior to arriving in the Lifeboat , in attendance of the Lifeboat and following Pi’s ordeal on the Lifeboat, all reveal Pi’s enormous interest in science and religion. Even before the introduction of the Lifeboat the character Pi illustrates his extensive passion for Religion and Science. He develops the interest of science and religion primarily through Mr. and Mr. Kumar, Pi’s childhood teachers. Pi expresses his opinion about Mr. and Mr. Kumar after he embraces Islam. Pi says, “Mr. and Mr. Kumar were the prophets of my Indian Youth” (Martle, 61).
Imagery is used within this quote to illustrate the most important teachers of Pi’s childhood. The quote explains that significance of both Mr. Kumar the biologist teacher, who happens to be an Atheist and the Mr. Kumar the Sufi, the Islamic teacher. Mr. Kumar the biologist teacher is expressed as noticeable geometric physic which corresponds to his scientism and his logical self. He represents a prophet in Pi’s life because he ignites the flame of reason within Pi. Mr. Kumar the biologist teacher develops the importance of reason, which proves immensely useful to Pi’s ordeal on the Pacific Sea.
On the other hand, Mr. Kumar the Sufi lacks any sort of physical distinction which corresponds to his spirituality. Mr. Kumar the Sufi assists Pi in understanding and believing in something beyond the tangible, believing in the better story, and believing in God. Pi then use his own understanding and develops an appreciation for both Science and Religion without giving superiority to either. This is shown when the both Mr. and Mr. Kumar are present together at the zoo, “Mr. Kumar said, “Equus burchelli bohemi. ” Mr.
Kumar said, “Allahu akbar. ” I [Pi] said, “It’s very pretty. ”” (Martle, 84). This quote seems to blend the dichotomy so well that the audience isn’t clearly able to distinguish between the two Mr. Kumars. Through close reading, Mr. Kumar the biologist teacher states “Equus burchelli bohemi” which is the scientific name to the Grant’s Zebra, through which Mr. Kumar separates the Zebra being viewed from other Zebras. Dissimilarly, Mr. Kumar the Sufi states “Allahu akbar”, which means “God is the Greatest”, through which Mr.
Kumar recognizes God and the zebra as a part of Gods magnificent work. Finally, Pi’s comment, “It’s very pretty”, is the confirmation of perfect contentment because he appreciates the perspectives of both Mr. Kumars. In conclusion, Pi recognizes both Science and Religion as important entities, even before he reaches the Lifeboat. As a castaway, Pi’s infatuation of Science and Religion guides him immensely. When Pi finds himself as a castaway he applies his reason and his faith to a Bangle tiger and an orang-utan who are present in the Lifeboat along with Pi.
When the orang-utan arrives in the Lifeboat, Pi says, “She came floating on an Island of bananas in a halo of light, as lovely as the Virgin Mary. The rising sun was behind her. Her flaming hair looked stunning” (Martle, 111). Pi uses imagery within the quote to describe the physical appearance of the orang-utan, referring to the colour of the orang-utan’s hair as “Flaming”. Another type of literary device used is allusion; Martle makes a biblical reference to compare the orang-utan to the mother of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary. Martle implies that the orang-utan seemed as pure, and lovely as the Virgin Mary.
Pi uses the orang-utan a biological animal as source of hope. The orang-utan is a representation of God to Pi; Pi uses the animal as a source of coping mechanism, through which he assures himself that god is with him. Similarly, Richard Parker the royal Bangle Tigre is also utilized by Pi as a source of hope. Pi describes Richard Parker after he gracefully eliminates the Hyena: I wish I could describe what happened next, (… ) I beheld Richard Parker from the angle that showed him off to greatest effect: from the back, half raised, with his head turned.
The stance had something of a pose to it, as if it were an intentional, even affected, display of mighty art. And what art, what might. His presence was overwhelming yet equally evident was the lithesome grace of it. (… ) matched with a tailor’s eye for harmony by his pure white chest and the underside and the black rings of long tail. (… ) But when Richard Parker’s amber eyes met mine, the stare was intense, cold and spoke of self-possession on the point of exploding with rage. (Martle, 151-152)
In the quote above a great amount of imagery is used in order to describe the significance of the tiger, Richard Parker. Pi describes Richard Parker as an art of God which is incomparable. His presence is both vast and stunning at the same time. The colour of his chest represents the purity within Richard Parker; this is significant because Richard Parker is seen as God by Pi because he kills the Hyena. Richard Parker eliminates the Hyena who represents the evil and darkness, Richard Parker gets rid of the Hyena and restores order on the Lifeboat, thus appearing like God in the eyes of Pi.
Yet, through the next sentence, Richard Parker confirms himself as a biological animal when he illustrate untainted hatred towards Pi because Richard Parker’s space is invaded by Pi, this shows no matter how much respect Pi devotes towards Richard Parker he in the end still remains a wild beast. Hence, Science and Religion provides Pi with a sense of hope on his journey on the Lifeboat. Following the ordeal on the Pacific Ocean, Pi’s infatuation with science and religion grows stronger without a doubt. Pi’s knowledge of science and religion is a primary aspect to his survival.
When Pi attends the University of Toronto he states that: My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for Religion concerned aspects of the cosmogony theory of Issac Luria, the great sixteenth-century kabbalist from safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because of its demeanour- calm, quiet, and introspective- did something to sooth my shattered self. (Martle, 3) The presence of science and religion is indirectly depicted by Yann Martle in the above quote.
An allusion is made when Pi’s chooses to write about Issac Luria for his religion thesis who was a sixteenth-century spiritualist. Issac Luria also in fact is related to science because he was obsessed with the creation of the universe. Similarly, Pi’s zoology thesis of the three-toed sloth seems very scientific; however Pi begins to explain the demeanour of the sloth which represents Pi’s spiritual side, which however isn’t scientific. In addition, Pi’s interest in science and religion is also depicted through Pi’s wife Meena Patel, “[Pi] I would like you to meet my wife. … ) She has in her arms a dry-cleaned white lab coat in a protective plastic film. She’s a pharmacist” (Martle, 79-80). The quote is used to explain the appreciation that Pi has for science and medicine. Despite the fact that Pi has great amount of faith he also understands the importance of science in our life, Pi has found the perfect parallel and is able to balance his life according to. He demonstrates this by marrying and spending his life with someone who practices science. Thus, Pi continues to use his reason and faith in order to achieve his full potential.
In conclusion, Life of Pi is a story that illustrates the importance of religion and science very well. In Life of Pi, Yann Martle utilizes the protagonist Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel’s to suggest that humans require both Science and Religion to attain their full potential. Pi demonstrates the bond that exist between science and religion in Pondicherry, India before he is forced to live as a castaway, he maintains his view of the relations between science and religion on the Lifeboat and he sustain his beliefs after he has survived his ordeal on the Pacific Sea and lives his life to its full potential.
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Lastly, “the Book of Scriptures (The Holy Bible) and the Book of Nature (the Created World) are two complementary ways that God reveals himself to humans” (Levison, 423). Pi makes use of the reason that exists in the world and the lessons of faith taught in the Holy Bible. Thus, Pi attains prosperity. References Levinson, Martin H. “SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION: A FALSE DICHOTOMY?. ” ETC: A Review of General Semantics 63. 4 (2006): 422-429. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. Martle, Yann. Life of Pi. Canada: Harcourt, Inc, 2001. Print.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Life of Pi: the Correlation Between Science and Religion
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Don't get us wrong. The protagonist of Life of Pi loves science. Science, along with reason, helps us control and manipulate the world. It's how we survive in the world. But Pi points out that like religion, science has an element of faith in it. Unlike agnosticism, where the person doesn't commit to either faith or disbelief, the scientist often commits to a worldview of atheism and to the methods of his discipline.
For the protagonist of Life of Pi, though, this isn't enough. We have to embrace the irrational and miraculous if we're to have a full picture of our universe. Science can explain the world up to a certain point, but its usefulness ends. According to Pi, when things get really hairy, religion has to step in with a good old-fashioned story.
Questions About Science
- What is it about the science of zoology that attracts Pi?
- Why might Pi name himself after a number? And an irrational one at that?
- Mr. and Mr. Kumar might seem like they have totally different belief systems. But Pi considers both to be "the prophets of his Indian youth" (1.20.2). How is Mr. Kumar the Muslim like a scientist? And, conversely, how is Mr. Kumar the biologist like a holy man?
- Fact One: Much of this novel sympathetically extends human consciousness and tries to imagine animal consciousness. Fact Two: Pi attributes spiritual calm and engagement to Richard Parker (see Themes: Spirituality 2.61.19). If spirituality extends to Richard Parker, can reason do the same? Does Richard Parker use a type of reason? Does Pi think that animals use something like science or reason to explain their world?