Redraw The Line

For most among us, faith would be bigger than science but faith masquerading as science is what we should all be wary of.

Written by Shah Alam Khan | Published:June 24, 2017 12:45 am
Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Rajasthan High Court judge, cow slaughter and Rajasthan news, cow national animal of India, India's national animal, India news, National news Former Rajasthan High Court Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma’s recent comments on the chastity of the national bird need to be seen in a broader perspective.

Former Rajasthan High Court Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma’s recent comments on the chastity of the national bird need to be seen in a broader perspective. The onslaught of irrationality continues and we are told by yoga gurus that they can treat anything and everything from a foot corn to cancer. The public shunning of allopathic medicine, promotion of herbal treatments for AIDS and the papers to show the near universal usefulness of cow urine continue unabated.

Regrettably, when all this was unfolding, the scientific community opted for silence, a silence which was more deafening then this din of absurdity. It is this silence which leads to the easy elimination of rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare with minimal public outcry.

It is important to realise that there is a thin line between logic and irrationality and between faith and science. If we believe (and we have the right to continue to believe), in the existence of Ganesh, we are following a faith. The moment we try and explain him through science, we are not only misusing science but we are also putting a question mark on our faith in him. Faith does not require the reasoning of science and hence we should always keep the two at a safe distance.

The use of science to prove faith is not exclusive to one religion. I find it amusing when my Muslim friends tell me the scientific benefits of fasting. During Ramzan, fasting is done not because it is scientifically proven to be good for the body, but because it is one of the pillars of faith in Islam.

The government should ensure that scientific discourse is not derailed even at the cost of electoral and political gains. An example of this commitment to science is seen in many Western countries which provide abortion laws despite the rigid anti-abortion stance of the Church and its followers.

Promoting science over faith is necessary as the presence of a scientific culture helps in the scrutiny of facts, both ancient and modern. While countries like Japan, South Korea and China have deep roots in tradition and culture, they rank among the highest in studies assessing scientific attitudes and scientific education as they constantly invest in science. Data shows that in 2014, China spent four times more than India on science and technology. It may be worthy to note that science provides knowledge but traditions manufacture our response to that knowledge. In the absence of scientific objectivity, societies run the risk of turning into illogical black holes.

It is thus important that no effort or opportunity should be lost by the state to expand the base of science among the people. In India, there are many government organisations which help in the promotion of science. The Indian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian National Science Academy, Indian Science Congress Association, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, are just a few of them. The government should make concerted efforts to channel the scientific aptitude of the masses through these organisations. The biggest service which the political leadership of the country can do to science is to refrain from making instinctive statements in matters of science and technology.

To conclude, in a deeply religious country like ours, it would never be easy to inculcate a comprehensive scientific culture, but the least we could do as custodians of rationality is to believe in the sanctity of science, keeping our prejudices of faith at a safe distance. For most among us, faith would be bigger than science but faith masquerading as science is what we should all be wary of.

The writer is professor of orthopaedics, AIIMS, New Delhi. Views are personal.

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    Vinod Kumar Tandon
    Jun 27, 2017 at 7:20 pm
    Thank You Doc, For finding some time to speak up. True, keeping faith at a safe distance from science , is the least one expects from those lucky enough to appreciate what science is all about. While remaining rooted in our culture, it is very important to invest in science education as China, an do.This being the only way masses can liberate themselves from dark forces of supers ions and black magic so brazenly promoted by TV serials just to gain TRP
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      Vinod Kumar Tandon
      Jun 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm
      Thank You Doc, For finding some time to speak up. True, keeping faith at a safe distance from science , is the least one expects from those lucky enough to appreciate what science is all about. While remaining rooted in our culture, it is very important to invest in science education as China, an do.This being the only way masses can liberate themselves from dark forces of supers ions and black magic so brazenly promoted by TV serials just to gain TRP
      Reply
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        Chandrashekhar Chauhan
        Jun 26, 2017 at 12:22 am
        Hinduism around 4000 years old if you consider harrapans as Proto Hindus. Christianity around 2000 years, Islam around 1500 years old... And how old is humanity?? Around 3,00,000 years as per latest finds... Religion is a much later human creation.... This artificial creation has been taken too seriously and the fact that we all are humans is forgotten.... Some one has said very well that one day God and man meet, both exclaimed at the same time- "Ohh, my creator"..
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          Chandrashekhar Chauhan
          Jun 26, 2017 at 12:15 am
          Each and every item of faith, except those that teach universal brotherhood, is an obstacle to having a better society... Whichever religion it may be... Atheism or at least minimal religiosity is the only solution... Please Google and read "why I am an atheist" by none other than Bhagat Singh...
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            Chandrashekhar Chauhan
            Jun 26, 2017 at 12:10 am
            Why go after the author?? Why we don't realize that over religiosity is the reason countries are backward.. No religion is an exception.. Religions are product of ancient and Medieval ages.. Europe, USA, an, Korea etc have developed because they have managed to confine religion to the 4 walls of temple, church etc... Sad that instead of realizing this we make it an opportunity to see it as Hinduism vs Islam vs Christianity... Wish we could be more atheistic...
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              Kanu Singh
              Jun 25, 2017 at 6:26 am
              Very timely article by a Muslim and very intelligent comments by some Christians deriding Hindu beliefs. My questions! Where did your prophet Muhammad get a flying horse from? How did your Allah create humans from pieces of meat? How did a virgin concieve? How did your dead Christ ressurect next day?
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                Philip EP
                Jun 25, 2017 at 5:15 am
                Also why are these very people who go about trashing and killing people in the name of a cow.. not rescuing these animals and keeping them in well appointed cow shelters.. Remember these animals are being considered as Gods..! When people can keep idols and statues in places of worship in beautiful conditions... why is a living Goddess being put out on roads to eat plastic and garbage..? Therefore these people who show outrage when they see other people transporting the animals, should show the same outrage against people who own these animals who send them out into the streets to eat far garbage and plastic.. instead of worshipping them..! They in fact should trash people who own these animals, who keep them in unhygienic conditions and also those who stop looking after their Goddess once they stop producing milk.. Think well before answering in a hot headed manner.
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                  lakshmi das
                  Jun 25, 2017 at 4:50 am
                  how dare you condemn my at ude towards cow as faith when i strongly believe cow is my mother cow milk cow cow are holy and pious. my cousin my uncles are bull calf . large family i have. soon they will build hospitals for my mothers. my mother is the only living thing that produces oxygen[inhales and exhales oxygen?....lots of bull shi................
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