Thursday, May 22, 2008

Scientific faith

Neha argues, in a recent post, that it is futile to give a scientific spin to some faith-based action.

If, for instance, you believe in rahukala and auspicious time, by all means cling to that belief. I have no right to question your faith just as you have no right to impose said faith on me. If you want to tie mango leaves on your door on a festive occasion, you should go right ahead, without feeling the need to defend that practice in scientific terms. ( To absorb the CO2, as a friend claimed once).

In the case involving the Ram Sethu, several self-styled experts have tried to produce scientific proof ( NASA satellite photos,etc) or archeological evidence, and made complete fools of themselves. By their senseless arguments, they actually weakened the case. In contrast, senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, told the Supreme Court last week that it was not for the Court to sit in judgement on whether there was scientific evidence or not. ““There is no need to look for any historical or scientific evidences whether Lord Rama made it or not, but that it is the faith of millions of people in this country.”

Quite simply, it is an article of faith. No further explanation is necessary.

Update 20-06-08 : The Slate carries this article on the tendency of some to drape religious beliefs in a cloak of scientific legitimacy. Especially the propensity to quote Einstein. A recently unearthed letter ( written by Einstein in 1954) puts paid to the argument that he believed in religion and a divine presence. An extract from the letter:

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilized 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. "

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