Written by Lawrence Krauss
God and Science Don't Mix .
The idea was first published in 1934 by J.B.S. Haldane in "Fact and Faith" and is quoted as follows:
My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.
Yet many scientists say that they are Christians or believe in some other Religion. How can that be?
When doing their scientific work they are rational and don't assume that there is any mystical force at work. Yet on Sundays and whenever the subject comes up, they about-face and say (in effect) "Not everything is subject to the rules of reason! I have Faith".
There is no easy answer to this although Lawrence Krauss does discuss the issue and in debating with two Catholic theologians, he discovers they resort to arguments that things like the Virgin Birth are not to be taken literally. Tell that to a Fundamentalist! But it is becoming generally accepted that we must be rational so modern Christians have to resort to picking and choosing which things in the bible to believe. How do they decide? Well "the Church" or the "overall bible teaching" or even the "Pope" provides the answers. And the answers depend on the religion, the context and even who exactly you are talking to. All this is a totally foreign concept to a rational scientist - hence science is indeed incompatible with religion.
Picking up the thread, PZ Myers of the blog Pharyngula comments that religion " (is) a set of answers, and worse, a set of procedures, that don't work. That's the root of our argument that religion is incompatible with science."
"Religion keeps giving us different answers. Very different answers. They can't all be right, and since no two religions give the same answers, but since science can generally converge on similar and consistent answers, I know which one is right. And that makes religion simply wrong."
Why should we care about the incompatibility of science and god? Because the world would be a better place if it was based on reason and not faith. As Krauss concludes in his article: "The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.
"Perhaps the most important contribution an honest assessment of the incompatibility between science and religious doctrine can provide is to make it starkly clear that in human affairs -- as well as in the rest of the physical world -- reason is the better guide."
By Lawrence Krauss
Written by John Draper
Science and Reason - The Human mind Written by John Draper Friday, 06 August 2010 07:10
Scientific studies have shown that Intelligence has risen in developed countries and simultaneously belief in religion has declined. The obvious conclusion is that people are getting smarter; smart people tend to reject irrational beliefs, hence with increasing intelligence more people become nonbelievers. But a paper by psychologist James Allan Cheyne at Waterloo University suggests it's more complicated than that.
But first, let's note that the effect is significant - in England, for example, church attendance has dropped to less than one-third of prior levels and atheism is no longer rare. Also, because many are reluctant to call themselves atheists but prefer "non-believer", there may be more atheists than what the many surveys show. Further, studies have shown that the effect is more pronounced amongst elite scientists - only around 7% of them are believers. Is there a connection between science and the rejection of religion?
Cheyne (photo right) shows that the teaching of science (for example in developed countries) actually teaches people to be able to handle abstract concepts and to accept the possibility that they may be wrong. After all, a basic fundamental scientific concept is to wonder whether an idea is right. They then become able to think more rationally and to reject absurd ideas like religion. This tendency was amplified by the need of the average population to be able to do Abstract, Categorical and Hypothetical thinking (ACH thinking) so some degree of scientific education was needed by everyone. The peasants in many underdeveloped countries do not need this skill so can't think this way. Hence only people in developed countries get "smarter" (by IQ measurements which require ACH thinking) and only people in developed countries reject irrational religions. Note that ACH thinking really is superior - it produced all the achievements of our time.
So as the world is educated and learns to think better and is able to cope with scientific concepts and knowledge - even if it's in a rudimentary fashion - people will gradually come to see that their religion does not fit and does not make sense.
Cheyne thinks that improvement in thinking in the developed world may have reached its limit but that improvement will continue in the developing world. The implication is that long term, religion will still appeal to around 20% of the population (e.g. as now in Scandinavia). That's a big improvement over approx 80%. The question I have is, why does this not seem to work in the U.S.? Do they fail to teach science in their schools? Or is it that only an elite get access to a Science education?
The next thought is that once religious zealots understand that a science education truly leads to a rejection of religion, guess what they will lobby for! I guess they don't want running water, electricity, cell-phones, TV, cars, etc - in short they want to go back to being cave-men. The good news is that science education does not have to be superb to be effective - it just has to teach the fundamentals of science, the value of experiments and the merit in asking questions.
If you are interested in this topic and concept, I recommend you read the full article - it's quite readable and does not use highly technical terms.
Written by Albert Einstein
Letter to Eric Gutkind (partial) by
Albert Einstein (1954)
Translated from the German by Joan Stambaugh
... The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the priviliege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolisation. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, ie in our evalutations of human behaviour. What separates us are only intellectual 'props' and `rationalisation' in Freud's language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.
With friendly thanks and best wishes
Written by D.D.Kosambi
In what follows, some social aspects of religion are considered in so far as they serve to keep India a backward country. The methods of cure suggested are by legislation, education and improved social conditions, with a brief example or two to bring out the basic idea in each case.
Reports by great religious leaders of the past, show that they regarded their own experiences and revelations as the most exhilarating and profound happenings of a lifetime. But the details show that exactly similar and often-identical experiences may be had by the use of certain drugs, electrical stimulus of the brain, lesions of the cerebral cortex and in dreams. The trouble begins when people impose their views, on the basis of such experience, upon others.
My treatment of the phenomenon is purely materialistic, no matter what the source of the revelation. Argument with men or religion on their own ground implies that their sacred books or some other sacred books have a peculiar intrinsic validity, not to be challenged by experiment or reason. I am not prepared to admit that religion cannot be understood or discussed by a man of no faith, This comes to saying that only a confirmed drunkard can be competent to deal with alcoholism. Whenever reform from within succeeded in India, the result was the addition of one more sect to the innumerable existing sects.
The figure of speech about alcoholism has been deliberately introduced. Not only wine but also mescaline and other drugs have formed the core of ancient or primitive modern religion. The potent soma of the sacred Vedas was a drink of this sort too. Hashish was a reward for and stimulus to the murder of inconvenient opponents, as used by a fanatical Muslim sect of the Middle Ages in Asia Minor. The drug and its use gave rise to the word assassin. The sect itself changed into the more innocuous one of the Aga Khan. Religions have recognized kinship and rivalry between the spiritual and the spirituous. Thus Buddhism and Islam banned wine. If such a ban can now be defended on grounds of social necessity and prohibition be made part of a democratic constitution, why should other hallucinogens not be treated on the same basis? And what more powerful hallucinogen than religion?
There is one difference that drugs can generally be relied upon to produce exaltation. Its purveyors are taxed and subject to regulation, while the individual who uses them has to observe public decorum and, is severely punished for breaking law and order. Curative treatment is given to addicts. We have been very slow and hesitant in dealing with the purveyors of religion on the same basis. Only the most gruesome malpractices have been banned: sati (widow burning; defended as ‘voluntary’ by many pundits), hook swinging, and the most obscene features of the holi festival are now forbidden. The last comes directly from prehistory; even Asoka had trouble with the institution, But we have stopped halfway. Pilgrim taxes are levied by many places whether the visitor is a pilgrim or not. Why not tax all income from any religious source, including the ‘voluntary’ contributions from the pious? Why are temples and mosques not taxed on the same basis as many buildings reserved for the use of a special group? Marriage and divorce are now regulated to some extent by civil procedure; monogamy has become a legislative measure, regardless of religion. Why not secularize these social institutions completely and compulsorily?
Some people, although willing to admit that Indian religion has its harmful aspects, insist that education is the sole remedy. It is not, of course, but there is every advantage in educating people out of their superstition. That is one way of improving Indian education and social conditions, provided education is understood in a sense far wider than that of the schoolroom. The crudest of Indian superstitions is faith in astrology. Millions still bathe at a solar eclipse, not as a hygienic measure but to free the sun from a demon of darkness.
It is known, however, that there is no longer a risk of perpetual darkness if the ritual bath be omitted. The precise time and duration of the eclipse is predictable long in advance, not by the Brahmin’s stock in trade but by Newtonian theories of the universe. It is not enough to make this fact public, namely that the Indian almanacs surreptitiously borrow their information about eclipses from foreign sources, while retaining the tripe about planetary influences upon horoscopes.
The panchang almanacs sell by the hundred thousands all over, the country, each area having one or more of its own. Their very existence must be turned to good use by inserting useful information: first aid hygiene, element of legal rights for the citizen, possibilities of getting aid from sources other than the blood-sucking money lenders in time of need and so on. Let the planets stay, and give their positions by all means; but make the traditional almanac into a really useful educational document.
Here the modern educator is definitely at fault. He works through a bureaucratic mechanism originally imposed by a foreign government and allowed to continue by inertia. His own education has, more often than not, consisted in learning foreign books by rote where his grandfather might have recited Sanskrit texts with as little understanding. Often, he can teach the latest scientific theories in school and maintain outside the classroom that his ancestors three thousand years ago could fly through the air by the power of yoga and see the atomic nucleus and viruses by their inner sight. He never turns scientific methods upon the study of superstition. Why did the superstition arise? Did the Indian almanac ever perform any useful function at all? If not, how can one account for its rise and spread?
The basic fact is that the whole of Indian agriculture turns upon the monsoon. The annual rains begin at about the same time every year in any given part of the country, but the land has to be prepared for the sowing well before then. Similarly, the harvest has to be taken in after the last normal rain has fallen. But the calendar is a very advanced scientific concept in primitive life, determined mainly by long observation of the positions of the sun, moon and planets. We know that these heavenly bodies merely mark time: for primitive man, they made the weather as the very word meteorology indicates. So, they also seemed to control man’s destiny. These all-powerful stars would have to be propitiated according to the priest’s instructions.
To counteract this, education is the best method. Just as eclipses can be predicted, the onset and strength of the monsoon can also be predicted. Not as accurately as astronomical phenomena, but much better than the varsha-phala (‘yield of the rains’) given in every Indian almanac. It is easier to send out storm warnings by radio and much quicker too. With radios in every key village, the farmer could be advised - given an efficient weather bureau - when to sow and to harvest. But this means leaving the panchang almanac alone. If we do this, superstition will survive much longer, and may be perverted to strange uses by some interested people.
The best way is to have a reasonably efficient long-range weather forecasting system. This is now well within our reach with air-mass analysis and observation satellites. The information must then be put into every almanac and the basis of calculation carefully explained in simple language. The peasant will see for himself that the stars have nothing to do with the weather or the monsoon and will be willing to listen when other bits of really useful scientific information are given. Even now he knows that fertility rites are much less effective than the proper use of fertilizer. But we must not throw away the magnificent chance of utilizing an old institution like the almanac to cut down the very superstition it promotes.
The last section says in effect that tout comprendre is by no means equivalent to tout pardonner. Let us try the method on the most obscurantists of all Indian religious and social institutions, caste. The evils of the caste system are known, but no one asks himself why the system originated and why it has held on in spite of so ·great a change in Indian life. Why should the Brahmin’s pretensions be believed when he puts his sons to work in an office, which uses only English, not Sanskrit, and is perhaps headed by a beef-eating sahib?
The answer is quite obvious. Caste was socially useful at one time, when production was at a much lower level. It was the one way of keeping people together in co-operative effort rather than have every man strike out for himself with the common ruin of all. The village was the firm basis of caste, because a kinship group generally held land. Tenure of land and membership of the group went together. Whoever was outcast could no longer survive in the village. With feudal tenure, caste was still powerful as a common bond against unlimited oppression. Whole villages would desert en masse if the baron bore down too hard. Their caste-fellows were bound to help these peasant strikers in distress. Further, the village need for a potter, blacksmith, carpenter or barber was fulfilled by artisan castes when the level of commodity production was low.
Today, factory production, overcrowded cities, road and rail transport have changed all this. Caste persists only because some people gain from it, namely, those who possess land, hold the priesthood, and so on. Caste disabilities persist in spite of legislation and - in many places - mass conversion as to Buddhism. The root cause is the abysmally low economic status of the lowest castes and their total lack of opportunity. Neither legislation, nor conversion, nor schoolroom education can remove this. The sole possible cure is more efficient production and distribution of the product in a manner equitable for all; most people call this socialism. But equality on paper and the adult franchise will not be enough, when politicians can use caste for vote catching and distribution of patronage.
To take an allied but smaller point: most economists see no future for India without birth control. The national income and production are not rising at a faster rate than the population, so that the net gain is virtually nil. But why do people want children in a poor country? The usual answer is, ‘superstition’. A son is essential so that the parents may go to heaven and be given the annual oblation to keep them there.
Silly as this is, it contains an ancient historical truth. Archaeology tells us that it was a tremendous and extremely rare achievement in the older Stone Age for any human being to reach the age of forty years. Food production instead of food gathering made it possible for a substantial number of people to live longer. This only meant that some people lived to an age where they could no longer fend for themselves and had to be fed by others as in childhood. The offering to the manes (pinda) is simply an extension of this practice, when the ancestors have entered upon the long sleep of the grave.
If, now, birth control were by some miracle enforced, it would mean that every person who reached a certain age and physical condition would have no one to feed him in the present social set up. Children are necessary precisely because Indian parents have no other means of subsistence in old age. Insurance, savings, landed property, pensions or other means of income would not suffice, at a guess, for as much as five per cent of the population. So, the birth control expert is in fact asking people to starve to death in old age so that some other people will be better off.
Most of us are not likely to listen to the argument. Where food was very scarce, e.g., in Rajasthan until the last century, a dreadful form of population control was affected by female infanticide. Today, population control will be successful only if people are convinced that there would be enough for them to live on in their old age even if they have no children.
The real stupidity lies with the ‘planners’ who try to regulate the total numbers of the people by theory, without assurance of a reasonable livelihood for the people in existence. The expert who talks of epidemic and famine as natural checks upon the ‘population explosion’ himself runs to consult the doctor the moment he has a fever; and never goes without a full meal if he can help it. There are modern superstitions in the guise of science, quite as deadly as those of religion.
The need is less for reform or even the abolition of religious superstition than for basic changes, which can only be described as revolutionary. Unfortunately it is possible to have a revolution without its promised benefits, but never the benefits without a revolution.
Written by Dr Narendra Dabholkar
Product and the Outlook of Science
Just look around and you will realize the state of affairs in our country. All of our villages have roads and there are plenty of vehicles that run on them carrying modern fertilizers and hybrid seeds. Tractors have reached villages and farmers in remote areas are capable of modern cultivation. Watching TV, we keep abreast of whatever happens anywhere in the world. We can contact a person anywhere on the telephone through the satellite. Science has made all this possible to the villagers. However, with all these facilities made available by science, the villagers in Maharashtra, slaughter, every year, 5 to 7 lakh goats and innumerable chicken in order to fulfill their superstitious vows. Among them are a number of educated people who do not feel what they do is not in accord with their education. It is a well-known fact that to be possessed is a psychic condition, a kind of mental illness; and yet in all Navaratri festivals, on full moon and new moon days and in village fairs, women are possessed by some deity and dance vigorously, oblivious of them. People worship these noisy humming and dancing women taking them to be the deities that possess them. They gleefully exploit the products of science but refuse to adopt the scientific outlook. We use the latest computer; and perform Satyanarayan pooja to inaugurate the computer service. Using the computer and the performing pooja are mutually inconsistent. But we do not mind it because we want to use science but not adopt scientific way of thinking.
Some people claim that this scientific outlook is not at all new to India; it has been there for ages. What existed in our country in the ancient past is, in fact, a matter for anyone to imagine the way he likes. A reference to the Pushpak Yan in the Ramayan means that we had aeroplanes and Brahmastra means the existence of atom bombs in those days. One does not need to refute these claims because it is more important to analyze why we are in such a dire state today if we had all these technologically advanced appliances in the past? Later on we can examine whether it is sheer imagination or things really existed as is claimed by some. But one thing is clear. We did not have any philosophy in the past that can be compared with what is called scientific outlook today. What we did have was rough estimates, assumptions and lengthy studies based on careful observations and genius of our people in the past. Whatever significant contribution India did make has been recognized by the world. The zero, for example, that has removed a big mathematical obstacle, is an Indian invention. It is attributed to Bhaskaracharya. Another scientist of acclaim, in those days was a chemist, Nagarjun. He invented the process of combining silver and gold with copper. Amarsinha classified the animal and plant kingdoms. Varahamiheer knew that the sun is a star and not a planet even in those days. Copernicus known for the Copernican revolution, that changed the center of the world from the earth to the sun, had said, ‘ the sun seems to be revolving round the earth, but in reality it is just the opposite of it. The sun is the center while the earth revolves round it.’ Aryabhatta initiated this concept in the 5th century, in India. We have honored him by naming our first satellite after him. (Incidentally Aryabhatta was not a Bhatt, i.e., a Brahmin but a Kshatreeya.) People ridiculed his idea. They argued, ‘If the earth revolves, as you say, how do we who, stand on it and perform all sorts of activities not fall off as the earth moves? Again how is it that the birds that leave their nests in the morning can find them on their return in the evening, when the earth has moved ahead?’ The point here is that we did have a process of critical thinking in the 5th and 6th century AD. This wisdom we had attained through observation, experience and discussion and were important and useful. However this process of acquiring knowledge cannot be called scientific outlook. In the next ten to twelve centuries the tradition of critical thinking also almost disappeared. A few good kings, eminent philosophers and littérateurs were born during this period, but no scientists. All debate centered on trivial matters such as who should and should not dine with whom; how should one wear the sacred and mundane dhoti; how many strands should there be in the sacred thread; should one eat onions and garlic during the four sacred months of the year; how drinking cow’s urine and brushing one’s face with its tail give you merit and emancipate your soul and so on. The rest of the world was following a different path. The Portuguese brought the revolutionary art of printing into Goa in 1550. It saved huge time that was required to copy manuscripts by hand. Spreading knowledge would have become very easy, but it took nearly three hundred years for this invention to reach the rest of India.
Scientific outlook was not developed in our society. Since it is essential to have such an outlook, Indira Gandhi amended the constitution. Till then only the rights of a citizen were mentioned in the constitution. With the amendment of 1976, along with the rights, a citizen’s duties were also included in the constitution. One of these duties is, ‘Every citizen should endeavor to spread scientific outlook, critical attitude and humanism in the society.’ The core content of the ‘new education policy’ of Rajiv Gandhi included ‘inculcation of scientific attitude’. Scientific attitude is an important part of our life. Is it something very serious, quite difficult to understand and meant only for a few people? No not at all. All of us use it in our normal life. ? No not at all. All of us use it in our normal life. If I want to go to Bhandara from Satara, to attend a function, I would ask a friend as to how to go about it. He tells me, there is a train from Satara that will take me to Bhandara. When I ask him, on what basis does he say so, he tells me that he remembers having seen it in his dream six months ago. Another friend told me that I would have to go to Pune and take a train from there. When I requested him to substantiate his information, he said, he had heard someone telling his friend, two months ago, at Pune railway station, that he went to Bhandara by a train. A third friend told me that I need not go to Pune since the Maharashtra express can take me directly to Bhandara. ‘How can he ascertain this information?’ I asked him. He replied that 15 days back he had been to Satara railway station where somebody was telling this to somebody else who wanted to go to Bhandara. A fourth friend told me that one has to go to Nagpur by the Maharashtra express, then go to the bus terminus and take a bus going to Bhandara that will reach me there in about two and half hours. I asked him how can I be sure of what he told me, he said he had been to Bhandara for some work by this route only a couple of days back. Now out of these four friends whom should I rely on, the most and on whom the least? The least on the one who saw something in his dream, six months back; may be, a little on the one who heard someone telling about it to another person; I can rely on the third friend a little more who heard about it at the Satara railway station fifteen days ago and the most on the fourth friend who himself had been to Bhandara, just two days ago. We rely to the extent we have reliable evidence. The same practical criterion that we all commonly use is the basis of Scientific Outlook.
We rely to the extent we have reliable evidence. The same practical criterion that we all commonly use is the basis of Scientific Outlook.
How does one verify evidence? The process of scientific thinking is the method that is used for doing this. The factors that constitute this method are: Observation, Logic, Inference and Verification (this is of three types, viz., direct, repeated and universal), followed by experiment. What comes out of this is the scientific outlook. All the discoveries made so far are the result of some observation. We are taught in school about steam energy discovered by James Watt. The story goes thus. James Watt was engrossed in his thought. A kettle was boiling by his side. When enough steam gathered in the kettle its lid fell off. James put the lid back on the kettle. It fell off again after a little while. A few repetitions set him thinking about the reason for the lid coming off. He did not imagine a ghost in the kettle. He reasoned that since the lid comes off again and again, there must be something inside that pushes it out. This reasoning resulted in the discovery of energy contained in the steam, which led to the industrial revolution in Europe. Another example: we celebrate 28th February as National Science Day, because C.V. Raman’s discovery of ‘Raman effect’ was published in world-renowned magazine ‘Nature’. Later he won the Nobel Prize for it. How did he discover it? He was going to England in a liner. Every day he used to go to the deck and see the deep blue sky above and the deep blue sea below. He was curious to know why. Now he could have praised God for creating the beautiful blue sky above and the beautiful sea below. But, he did not do that. He started reasoning and discovered a novel scientific truth. Thus, scientific outlook starts from observing phenomena and asking oneself the question ‘why’.
Now one cannot expect to prove everything by observation. Suppose you have lost your way in a jungle in the evening. You need to reach some small settlement before night. Since you do not know where such a cluster of hutments can be found, you would not know which way to go. Then if you see some smoke going up at a dozen places by the side of a hill, you think this may be an indication of a settlement and you take the path towards it. What is the basis of your choice? You have not seen any men or a settlement or their fireplaces. But you know that wherever firewood is used for cooking, there is smoke and in the jungle, firewood is used for cooking. Evening is the time for cooking dinner and if food is being cooked in every hutment, there would be a dozen places from where the smoke can rise. So you deduce that there must be people living there and they are preparing their dinner. On the basis of this logic you proceed in that direction and your deduction turns out to be correct. Scientific outlook consists of firstly observation, secondly reasoning (or logic) where observation is not possible and thirdly inference. Let me explain the third constituent, inference. A friend of yours, who is a late riser, suggests that you accompany him for a walk at sunrise next morning. He promises to come to your house very early next day. Since you know he is incapable of doing this, would you argue with him, ‘Oh, you want to go for a walk at sunrise, but how are you sure that the Sun will rise tomorrow?’ No you won’t. But how does one know that the Sun is going to rise tomorrow? When we give appointments several days in advance, how do we know that those days are going to break on this earth? We deduce this from our knowledge that the Sun has been rising regularly in the morning for the last 460 crore years. It has not taken any leave at all. If it does that even for a day, it can cause a permanent “leave” for all the living things on earth. Since the Sun has been rising regularly so far, you infer that it will do so even tomorrow and plan to go for a walk in the morning. This is inference.
The next factor is verification. We have already seen that it consists of three parts: verification, repeated verification and universal verification. What is verification? Adi Shankaracharya had said, even if hundred wise men tell you that fire is cool, will you believe it? No, you will not. If those hundred wise men say, ‘not only do we say it, but it is also written in the book’, you would reply, ‘I do have a lot of respect for all of you but the direct evidence, my own experience, tells me that if I put my hand in fire it will burn.’ Verification by direct experience is an important part of scientific outlook. Now we will see what is repeated experience. Someone tells you that using a certain enchanted ring will secure employment for the user within one month. You ask him to give you proof. He then says that he had used it and later his neighbor had used it and both got jobs within a month. What you should argue with him, is that if the same experience is repeated a large number of times, then we should make ten thousand such rings and distribute them among ten thousand unemployed youth. If they all get jobs within a month then we can accept that this ring does have some supernatural power of securing jobs for the unemployed. We cannot draw conclusions from just one or two examples. For drawing conclusions you need a very large number of such examples. This is the crux of the scientific outlook. Again this experience or verification has to be universal. It cannot be science without being universal. If you say that only the residents of that particular city will get jobs on using the ring, it will not be acceptable as scientific truth. If the ring really is capable of getting a job for the user, any body anywhere should get a job within a month on using it. If a medicine is developed for a particular disease, it will cure any person suffering from that disease any where in the world. When the law of gravitation was proved, it could be applied anywhere in the world to verify it. Thus scientific outlook is founded on direct verification that is repeated in very large number and is universally applicable.
Experiment is the last important constituent of scientific outlook. Anybody should be able to verify scientific truths by conducting required experiments. Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. It means that water will boil at this temperature anywhere in the world, be it Bombay, Calcutta, London or Madras. If it boils at a lower or higher temperature at any place, you have another universal law that explains why and to what extent the boiling point of water rises or drops. It is not that water will boil at 90 degree centigrade in Mumbai and save fuel because the residents of Mumbai are very religious, while the residents of Moscow being atheist water boils there at 110degrees centigrade. One can verify it by experiment. So observation, the question ‘why so’ based on the observation, then reasoning or logic where observation is not possible, followed by inference and verification and lastly experiment are the steps that build the scientific outlook. There is a lot of value content too in the scientific outlook. It tells how a human being should look at life in general. The value content dwells in the method of scientific thinking.
Every body feels that with the spread of science education and modernization, superstitions will automatically disappear by and by. No special efforts are needed to do that. Say, for example from a totally dark room we cannot dig out the darkness. Just light a candle and the darkness will vanish. A petromax will make it brighter, while a tube light will make it brighter still. When the day breaks out and as the sun reaches the zenith the room is flooded with light from all sides. Darkness has no room there. Superstition means the darkness of ignorance. So it goes without saying that with the light of knowledge and science the darkness of ignorance i.e., superstition will simply melt away. Had this concept materialized, we would have been the happiest people for, in that case, such a huge movement would not have been necessary at all.
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar
Page 1 of 2«StartPrev12NextEnd»