“Superstitions consist of beliefs and practices, which have no evidence to support them, and are inconsistent with the degree of enlightenment reached by a community.”
The above definition of superstitions, taken from the textbook of university degree course, is a most logical yet neglected definition of superstitions. It has wide range and covers every field of human activities and knowledge. The analytical explanation of above statement is that as long as faith and practices of a community are in line with its present acquired knowledge and experience (those might be wrong) can’t be called or felt superstitions themselves. This is because their level of enlightenment or understanding is not raised to the higher level of knowledge available in the present world. To raise the level of level of enlightenment they have to think rationally. To create rational thinking one has to adopt a scientific attitude. To develop this scientific temperament, knowledge about the world based on examination, tests and facts those can be proved is essential. This requires sympathetic attitude.
The science is the best instrument to stimulate the rational thinking and investigation of knowledge and experience acquired so far. This does not mean that rational thinking is a right of learned people only. The rational thinking is a born instinct in every human being, which is suppressed throughout the ages. Any individual capable of truthful reasoning is ought to be rational.
There are many doctors, engineers, leaders and even scientists who are learned people and sufficiently enlightened persons yet they believe in superstitions. Despite their modern living using all modern amenities and leading happy life, they are not performing science in practice. They avoid scientific attitude in their daily life. These intelligent people believe and practice superstitions because no one is forcing them to do so. But basically they are selfish or are afraid of something or simply they are hypocrite. By their untenable attitude, common people are confused but ultimately follow them. This act of contradiction is inconsistent with their enlightenment and as such they can be called superstitious. The second reason for many learned and knowledgeable people being superstitious is because of their lack of rational thinking and its awareness. They couldn’t use science in practice and interlink it with matters of superstitions to investigate the truth behind it. They couldn’t really understand it without some guidance. One has to guide them with sympathy and friendliness.
In general superstitions are considered as product of religious matters. Religion never changes whereas science adopts every new change after proving it. The holding and clinging to old unproven matter, which is peculiar to the particular place, time or community is also superstition. Superstition gives birth to fanaticism and fundamentalism. It is hindrance to progress and development of human beings. It often blackmails the emotions of a person.
The continuous change, i.e. evolution, is a law of nature. Survival of the fittest is the rule of evolution. During the millions of years of evolution of species physical ‘might is right’ was the law of the survival. This was changed when homo sapiens evolved on the earth. The brain of human being evolved has something ‘extra’ than any other species. That is thinking power. Without this human race couldn’t have sustained the harsh conditions of the nature. The might of human thinking or intelligence was new law of the survival. It was the beginning of the rational thinking. However it was raw and primitive. With the help of thinking power human being has created the civilization and captured whole world without bothering about other species and even his fellow human beings. Though the sword of scientific progress is for the human benefit, it should be in the hands of rationally intellectuals.
The present civilization is not a better one despite it is modern and progressive. We will have to create a super civilization by thinking more and more rationally. This may be possible through by adopting means of unexploited nature and species around us for producing superior, sustainable, safe and simple but sufficient material for everyone to live happily. That may be perfect rational thinking of super civilization.
T S Raskar