Monday, June 15, 2015

Science is NOT my religion.

I have written quite a few posts about science and religion. I know some people who call science as their religion, where as I do understand their intention behind saying so I don't subscribe to that idea for me it is very clear that science is NOT my religion. I say so because of one basic fundamental difference between both disciplines, religion demands total surrender and requires complete faith (many times to the level of blind faith), it allows questions but only to certain limit and there are certain areas or personalities in almost all religions which are unquestionable and their authority is considered as supreme but science has none of these things. Science is not my faith, I don't believe anything which comes from that field blindly, I need data to accept or reject anything no matter who is the scientist behind that theory or experiment. This basic difference is the key to understand why both of these disciplines are poles apart from each other and were often at loggerheads in past when certain age old beliefs were challenged.

So when someone says that science is their religion, they might mean that they believe in science in same way people believe in religion. But then there is one basic problem in this argument, science does not demand any belief or faith, rather it teaches to be skeptic about everything. One of the basic requisite for being a good scientist is the ability to question things around us, challenge the well established facts to test if they are right or wrong. There is nothing which demands any sort of belief or surrender, experiments and data collected from those experiments suprecede any rules or theories. Anything can be proven right or wrong by experimental evidence. Scientists don't believe in validity of one of the most famous scientific equation, E=MC2 because a great scientist like Albert Einstein proposed it, they accepted it because it was proven to be true by experimental data. Same is true for theories proposed by Newton, Galileo or any other scientist of any era. Certain statements or theories might get some recognition in the beginning just because some famous or successful scientist proposed it but eventually it has to pass the test of experimental validity. Someone need to produce the data to prove or disprove them and this can be done by anyone without being threatened or heckled by supporters of that theory. Any such efforts where certain theory is proven right or wrong by experimental evidence is welcomed by entire scientific community, even students of the scientist whose theory is proven wrong welcome any such effort as it adds new information to their own knowledge about that subject. This is the basic reason why there is no enmity between different branches of science, there is fierce competition between various branches but at the same time there is vast amount of inter disciplinary collaborations.

Challenging well established theories, questioning hypothesis, demanding data to prove any claim are some of the basic things which people learn in science but it is exactly opposite in religion where one is taught to accept supremacy of some entity and then asked to follow certain book (or set of books). Questioning is highly restricted and often sensitivities of followers of that religion get hurt if anyone questions their beliefs beyond certain point. At the same time there is tremendous tension between various religions, history is full of gory violent incidents because of communal conflicts between two or more religions. I do understand the need of religion for many people, many of us need some emotional support and religion acts as a pillar of strength for many. May be science partly does that job for me as it answers many question which I get from time to time. Actually science is a very useful tool for me to navigate through my life but nothing more than that, it can never become a religion for me just because I don't agree the way religion is practiced in today's world. Even today religion fails to come any close to science as far as openness and tolerance is concerned. Because of this tolerance which I learned during my training as scientist I don't mind people questioning whatever I say or write, they have total freedom and right to do that. My sensitivities and beliefs are my problem people don't have to worry about them while questioning me, they should not get hurt by some question or criticism. That is why I categorically say that even though I am a scientist by profession and believe in usefulness of science to solve many problems which human face today I don't consider it as my religion.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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