'Science and religion can learn from one another' on Homo naledi

Johannesburg - Science and religion can learn a lot from one another, rather than trying to prove the other wrong.

This as some religious followers and groups weighed in on the recent discovery of Homo naledi.

Rudolph Pretorius, a businessman and lay preacher, told News24 that he personally believed there was no direct link between humans and the recently discovery of Homo naledi. 

Pretorius is an avid contributor to the creationist debate, but also says it's important that "religion and science speak".

For him, the debate on where humanity comes from is not about who is right or wrong.

"I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I follow his teachings and that's important. I follow his way of life... and the first important thing is he doesn't go into that [creationism] discussion. He just didn't.

"How important is it that religion and science speak? It's always important. It's a very important subject, but this is my point of view, that people should stop trying to... find out who is right and who is wrong," he said.

Pretorius went on to say that it was important for science and religion to "sit together" and say, "How can we learn from each other to get the big picture?" as, according to him, neither had the "full picture".

Ashwin Trikamjee, spokesperson for the SA Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS), said the discovery of Homo naledi and the conclusions that followed were "somewhat untested".

"Hinduism has always cremated the dead and therefore awaits the outcome of the scientific discovery," he said.

"Hinduism does not reject such discoveries and conclusions and has always been willing to debate the issues. We are not averse to such findings."

The SAHMS readily acknowledged that it was important and relevant to debate and discuss any scientific discoveries.

"The temples and places of worship in India have a long history of the evolution theories and have always enjoyed constructive debate ," he said.

The discovery of Homo naledi saw ANC MP Dr Mathole Motshekga, also the executive director of the Kara Heritage Institute, cause a storm on Twitter last week after he made controversial statements about the discovery. Motshekga reportedly said the discovery perpetuated the theory that Africans were subhuman.

Former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi also spoke of his doubts surrounding Homo naledi, declaring on Twitter that, "I am no grandchild of any ape, monkey or baboon - finish en klaar".

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