Scientific Mind and Building of a Society based on Science Oriented Thought

 Ajoy Roy


1. Path of Science

Now a days we talk much of scientific mind or science oriented thought. In BTV for a long time in a particular program the comparer in his introductory remarks uttered with all sincerity that object of his program is to help building a society based on scientific mind and deep religious devotion. No doubt it is a noble object indeed. Our political leaders also in a proverbial style every day advising us to be scientifically minded and they promising us to present a society based on scientific thought and culture. We want scientifically oriented society, we want science based freethinking, we want to solve every problem that confronted us to day in a scientific path - whatever the nature of the problem, be it economical or social.

But by uttering those words like 'Scientific Mind', 'Scientific Conscience', or 'Scientific Path'- what really want to mean, - our advisers don't make these terms intelligible to us - the ordinary people, they don't make the ideas clear or try to elaborate. We do not realize what would be the nature of the 'scientifically oriented society? Nor do we have any idea how to solve a problem in scientific way? All these words remain vague to us.

Do we know truly what is the nature of way that we would call really 'Scientific'? Are we exposed to such training in our life, in our educational system, in our curriculum, the way we would proceed that might be called scientifically valid? Are these methods are reflected in syllabus and curriculum of school and college education? We can very rightly raise these questions to ourselves and to our advisers.

The root meaning of the Bengali term 'Biggan' is 'Specialized Knowledge'. But whatever the root meaning of the term might have in the past, we adopted this word to carry the meaning and significance of the English word 'Science'. And Science, according the concept that developed by the scientists, is a path- a way and a process through which we acquire knowledge, we create knowledge and ultimately the path leads us to discover truth. The basis of Science is logic, logical freethinking, and independent observations and information dependent analysis. Thus, the maker of science oriented society must cultivate science.

Cultivation of science has two aspects; we generally do not keep it in mind. We are however very much conscious of its application aspect, because that aspect has considerably influenced our material world, that has brought us comfort. Its other aspect is its inherent Philosophy that helps us make our thought and conscience clear and transparent, our vision becomes logic based, as transparent and clear as Mathematics. But most of the time about this aspect of science that its inherent philosophy. Many think that science is capable of delivering perfect knowledge. This is however, in some sense not entirely correct. Because, there is no end of knowledge; Cultivation of science helps expanding our horizon of knowledge, lifts us from one stage to upper stage - and the process continues. The gist of scientific methodology is: From observation or from theory assumptions or hypotheses are made, and each hypothesis is verified through observation or tested in a laboratory. After reaching a conclusion about the result of test or experimentation it could be decided whether the hypothesis got support or found invalid. Then the experimental data collected for first hypothesis could be utilized to make new hypothesis, - and these new hypotheses produce answers to our queries and with them, some new questions too. That means more we know more we become aware what we don't know. If we understand that perfect knowledge means that we know all probable aspects of an event or a thing, then the above mentioned scientific methodology would not lead to us to success. 

This way fruits of scientific creativity and solution of a problem may as inviting new problem. When we attempt to solve social problems that have arisen from technological development by applying science we must remember those probabilities.

In the backdrop of attempting to build a science oriented society we must also remember another aspect of our social life. Man has suddenly appeared before a door of all probable- and that has been achieved through research and cultivation of science and science only. We have witnessed in our own generation how much power man has acquired. Man has opened  up immense source of energy by splitting atoms. Man's analytical mind, its capability of tackling any complicated mathematical problem, its capability of taking near correct decision and projecting future reached an infinite stage of development through the application of computer and information technology. In the discipline of genetics, and fortunately with the application of molecular biology man has reached a stage from where he can think of controlling his own life. Technology is a discipline by which we could use our knowledge for our material life. By following this path man has century after century slowly but steadily began to conquer its environment and gradually mastering over it. At the same time man has developed its mental faculty and expanded its horizon of thought.

Technology is the practical application of knowledge, on the other hand 'thought and conscience', 'concept and ideas' of science are closely linked with knowledge. Of course many of suffer from confusion or haziness regarding these two terms. From this sense of confusion we think science is different from our way of life, - we only want to enjoy the fruits of science, but try to abandon its knowledge-processing path from our social life.

From ultimate analysis- man has emerged from matter. He has now begun to 'understand' and 'know' his environment, and at the same time he now recognizes the form of powerful factors that controls the environment. He has also now begun to understand the process of life. Man's greatest peak of success is his knowledge and acquiring the scientific methodology of acquiring and expanding the horizon of knowledge. Knowledge ensures freedom of man, whereas ignorance confined him within walls, and may be captive of a network of superstitious and blind faith. In the path of acquiring fundamental knowledge progress of science could not be stopped, and it should not be.

We can here, pose a question. Do science has a philosophical basis. In order to discover or know something does science follow a 'unique' path? Can Science produce perfect or absolute knowledge about something? The essence of view of the materialist philosophers (e.g. Frederick Herbert) in this regard is: 'Perception' is the basis of our knowledge,- all philosophical problems could be solved by analysis of information and events received through perception. But the real knowledge is obtainable by the application of perception and intelligence. Schoepenhouer assumed that knowledge is of course perceptible. Information and facts received through senses are the basis of knowledge. Now let us see how or following what path science attempts to reach truth or acquire knowledge.

The objective of Natural Science (not Bio Science), more particularly Physics is to discover those similar laws, general principles and fundamental laws that govern the mother 'Nature'. Science looks upon knowledge as attributes emanating from so called perception or experimentally facts. Thus first stage of scientific methodology is to start enquiry and observation for collection of facts- then critical analysis of those facts to reach a generalization. Analysis of these facts using mathematical and other analytical methods, application of intelligence may lead to discover a natural law. At the third stage the scientists may attempt to formulate some special law(s) through logical approach, which must be subject to observation or experiment for its validity. Next, with the help of these special laws it is possible to explain different natural phenomena and with these some general laws are added. This methodology is obviously 'Inductive'. Establishment of four fundamental equations of electromagnetic fields by Maxwell is an excellent example of this approach. Side by side science does also adopt deductive system of reaching truth with equally effectiveness, a method very much liked by the philosophers. From this point of view it is possible to raise science from the empirical state to a state of a state of mathematical logic, of course with the application of intelligence and merit nourished by perception and experience. The scientist, be guided by perception and experience or inspired by intuitive guidance, builds a mathematical model having causal relation with the outside world of the phenomenon he wants to explain. In his model find place some mathematical symbols and terms chosen through critical analysis using deductive method.

This deductive system of reaching acquiring knowledge was adopted by Newton and also Einstein. The theory of relativity, particularly, the general theory after being rectified through perception of physics developed from mathematical model. Einstein viewed that no construct of a Physical System could arise from date obtained from mere perception or from experiment(s). The main principle behind this is "free invention of human intellectual power". The perception may help one to obtain suitable mathematical ides, but those ideas never could be obtainable wholly. The creative principle lies in mathematics. Great discoveries of science do not follow from Beconian mechanical methodology. These were the believes of Einstein. The Beconian method may produce Kepler, Rydberg but would fail to produce Newton and Bohr, In plain language the definition of science is to make a unison of disorder sensations received through our sense organs with a logical unified thought process. Perception is received from outside, but attempt to understand these through a theory are the invention of the human intellect. The revelation of physical event and attempt to give logical explanation give birth of a theory. But if the theory is not verified by experiment or it fails to predict future event- it is not beyond question. In that case a new theory may replace the existing one. This is the path of Science, -it does not give absolute knowledge about something. Acquirement of 'absolute knowledge' is impossible. This is yet another principle of impossibility of science. With this we, must remember applicability is the most important criterion in judging science. We have already stated that technology is the tools of using knowledge that emanates from scientific investigation. Science must have its application in our social and practical life. We must also emphasize that fundamental laws can never be evolved from logical arguments or from mathematical constructs. The fundamental natural laws are the extracts of our knowledge- the generalize form of the knowledge. The fundamental natural laws are to be invented; they have to be brought to our realization. This is done by the scientists whether he follows deductive or inductive system; The disciplined thought and creative feeling with the help of which a genius scientist discovers law of nature must be of very interesting nature for discussion.

Another question is often raised - is there any place of 'Intuition' in science? If intuition is treated as inspired assumption or conception then it has. But there exists a strong scientific as well as social background behind each inspired assumption i.e. intuition. The development of human intellect has reached such a stage that if an appropriate background is available the inspired assumption is generated spontaneously. 'Constancy of velocity of light', and 'principle of equivalence' due to Einstein; 'Existence of quantum states of radiating atomic oscillators' due to Plank; 'Concept of matter waves' due to de Broglie are few examples of intuition. Invention of statistics describing the behavior of quantum particle before the discovery of Quantum Mechanics by S. N. Bose of Dhaka University in 1924 is the result Bose's inspired assumption(s).

Another principle of 'The theory of knowledge' of science or of Physics is to understand and explain the phenomena of nature with minimum possible number of laws of nature. The leaders of this concept are Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and in our time Salam-Weinberg-Glashow, and Hawking. "The world phenomena from the moment of birth of the universe to its end" could be explained by a single unified theory is dream of all these greats.


2. A society without reason and logic 

From the above short discussion it follows that for building a Science oriented and free thinking society our path of cultivation of knowledge would have to be logical and inquisitive conscience-thought dependent. In the field of knowledge we can not progress in the absence of cultivation of freethinking if such atmosphere is wanted the society becomes backward and superstitious. Many a centuries back Ibne Rushd was the pioneer to show this path of cultivation of knowledge. Perhaps he was the Philosopher of Islamic world who devoted himself in search of knowledge with free mind and thinking. According to his concept of path of knowledge 'only from philosophy knowledge emanates'. For this very reason he tried to separate religion in the cultivation of science and philosophy. He did not hesitate to indicate that in the path of acquiring knowledge the principal hindrance is 'the blind religious faith'

The religious feeling covered with superstition negates the independence thinking and progress of man. As a result not only in thinking, even in the field of technology and theoretical study men become captive within a narrow world. The main extraction of human mind that pushes him to progress is his logical capability and power The clear basis of logic makes a man 'man' . When man gives more importance to logic and reason in place of blind faith, then he becomes 'religious' in the real sense- his religion then springs from reason and logic. To ask man not to question, or to induce him to become faithful is an attempt to bring him down to a state of a beast.

The religionists are therefore very much afraid of logic and reason. Because the expansion of thinking process based on reason is helpful way of acquiring knowledge. When man acquires this ability of thinking he is no more afraid of supernatural power and does believe in supernatural events. He then tries to explore a cause behind every event, and finds a logic and reason dependent explanation. Even humanist like Martin Luther, a deeply religious man was afraid of reason and logic, when he says

" And what saith God? Impossible things, lies, foolish, weak, absurd, abominable. heretical, and devilish things, if we believe reason. So, if you follow the judgment of reason, God setteth forth absurd and impossible things when he setteth out onto us the articles of the Christian faith. "

But the rationalist philosopher who through cultivation of philosophy tried to establish knowledge and truth, long long before Galleleo, he had to suffer for his liberal thought and cultivation of free thinking, was banished from his native land, and in the name of justice he was forced to pronounce 'Towba' . Off late attempt has been to depict him a true Muslim. On the contrary Ibne Rushd was non-believer of conventional religion. The secular Arabian Philosophy infested with freethinking was flourished at the hands of genius like Al Farazi and Ibne Sinah, later time because of the overwhelming influence of Imam Gazzali his secular philosophy almost extinguished from the Arab and Islamic world. However late on, Ibne Rush made a desperate attempt to revive this school freethinking based secular philosophy. As a matter of fact the impact Imam Gazalli totally banished any philosophy or opinions devoid of God from the entire Islamic world. Another secular philosopher-thinker as well as an astronomer and a great poet of Islamic world was Omar Khaiyam. His contribution in geometry and algebra is also quite note worthy. He has cultivated freethinking throughout his life. In him we find expression of his dependence on logic and reason. Essence of his philosophy has been beautifully found repression in an Arabic poem. The poem reads:

" If Madrasahs of those drunks
Became the educational institutes
Of teaching philosophy of
Epicures, Plato and Aristotle;

If Abode and Mazars of Peer and Drabesh
Is turned into research institutes,

If men instead of following blind faith of religion
Should have cultivated ethics,

If the abode of worships were turned into
Centers of learning of all academic activities,

If instead of studying religion, men
Would have devoted to develop mathematics - algebra,

If logic of science would have occupied the place of
Sufism, faith and superstition,

Religion that divides human beings
Would have replaced by humanism, ....

Then world would have turned into haven,
The world on other side then would have extinguished,
The world would then become full of

And there is no doubt about it."

Omar composed this poem long long time back, but it appears the environment that existed in his time is still prevailing in Bangladesh. I wish he revisit Bangladesh, we need him desperately- " Oh ! Omar, Come to Bangladesh, a land of superstition, blind faith and fotowabaz at least once, we need you much".


3. Our position and Progress of Science

If the holy books are the only source of knowledge, then stagnation will result in the society, the society would turn into a static state in its conscience and thinking, creativity would be replaced by superstition, unproductiveness, narrow-looking attitude, illiteracy and foolishness. That type of society would be retrogressive and backward looking. What we see in our society? Superstition and fruits of technology mutually co-exist. We don't want the reason of science; we want only its fruits in our material life; side by side we will nourish blind faith and submission to fate. We decorate our drawing with a coloured TV and watch satellite program, send our hysterical daughter to the abode of a peer instead of taking to medical centre.- this kind of contradiction is possible only in our society. In this society it is possible for a microbiologist to carry on higher research biochemistry , at the same time kissing the feet of a famous peer. It is in our society possible for a learned political scientist to a research monograph on secular political system at the same time to rush to a half educated spiritual peer for begging his blessings to have a lucrative coveted post of administration. This is the typical panoramic view of our society we are used to see. On the one hand meritorious bright students are nourishing logically unsound old religious ideas and values on the other hand they are found studying Medical science and Science of technology and engineering. Do they suffer from any contradiction ?

On this two parallel life there exist no conflict, no interaction. One is totally isolated from the other. Isn't strange. In our society we find if a valuable thing is lost we rush to a mullah who could send a container (bati-chalan) to catch the thief, instead of seeking the help of police. It is not a strange phenomenon in our society when we see a professor of physics delivering learned lecture on theory of gravitation is rushing to his religious master (Gurudev) throwing himself on his feet as he sees his gurudev is floating in space defying the law of gravitation or crossing the mighty river Meghna walking with wooden sandal. I don't get surprise when a smart professor of chemistry become famous writing novel on parapsychology.

The parapsychologists in the name of science, and some religious masters and believers incarnation and some persons know as peers in the name of religion are out trying to preach that theology and transcendentalism are scientific. The parapsychologists in the name of following scientific path they are taking the fraudulent method and magic in order to prove the existence of 'transcendental power', Planchet, rebirth, telepathy etc. Most of the so-called holders of spiritual powers are found to adopt these methods in order to influence their followers and common people. Bat sad part of the story is a significant section of educated class, some intellectuals for their own interest or for other reason extends direct or indirect supports to these frauds.

But history teaches us that scientific thought has always won the battle against the superstition, blind faith and conventional beliefs, even when those people had suffered. Even under severe threats and repression Ibn e Sinah, Ibn e Rushd and others like them did not surrender or gave up their secular philosophical views. Zirham, Al Dimiski embraced death but did not submit to the repression nor gave up their progressive logic and reason. Even when identified as anti religionist or under severe repression at the hands of the blind religionists the famous Medicinal Scientist and doctor Muhammad Bin Zakaria Al Razi did not stop preaching his opinions of free thinking and liberalism.

For holding the view 'The earth and other planets are moving around the sun' Italian scientist Giordano Bruno  had to suffer 8-years repressive imprisonment. Blind religionist and great Pope of that time got annoyed with Bruno, but he did not abandoned what he had believed to be true. Finally, in 1600 he was burnt to death for holding views contradicting those of holy books. But truth prevailed. We all know the story of repression on Galleleo by the Church- but still earth is revolving around the sun and not the earth. More than 400 years before the birth of 'Son of God' Anaxogorus put forward a scientific explanation of eclipse of moon stating that moon has no light of its own. Light coming from the moon is the reflection of sunrays. For preaching this anti religious view contradicting the holy book , the great scientist had to undergo through severe repression and finally was banished from his country. But the message of the holy book did not last, the truth of science prevailed- the eclipse is not a supernatural phenomenon, -it is a natural event. In 16th century, Paracelesus, Professor of chemistry of Besel University, Switzerland prove through his research that cause of a decease was due to existence of some kind of germ (bacteria, bacillus or virus...). If these germs could be destroyed the decease is over. But the Christian belief is that decease is the result of a sin. He was tried for preaching a view that was not in conformity with that of the holy book . Hue was given capital punishment, but the professor fled away saving his life. But once again scientific truth prevailed.

The Bioscience and the science dealing with creation of life did not progresses as fast as other physical sciences in the last century. That gave an opportunity to the Mullahs, Priests to preach the theory of creation as stated in the holy books, and thereby they tried to influence the common mass. The use make the common mass panic by raising the question of Haven and hell, But in the event of unprecedented development in life science the of creation as found in religious books are now meeting the challenge of modern revelation of science. Even the common mass could keep faith on those religious theories of creation.

Acceding to classical Hindu-dharma Brahma is the god of creation- from his different parts of body various forms of life sprang out . Man is also a kind of being,. According to Christianity 'The Prime Father' Zihoba is the creator of all creations. He created every beings in opposite couples. In this very way one day Zihoba created first human couple: Adam and Eve. And we are all descendents of Adam and Eve.

But recent research and studies in BioSciences and Science of creation has shaken our faith in the gospels of creation as stated in the Holy Scriptures. It is now gradually established that no living being after being created by the Prime Father did appear on the surface of the earth suddenly on one fine morning. Life has evolved on earth through long process of evolution of millions of years. Following this process of evolution ultimately Homo sapiens i.e. intelligent man appeared on earth.

Darwin was the first naturalist who proposed the scientific history of evolution of animals. His years of investigation, analysis of species and critical inference led his famous work 'The Origin of Species' . By proposing his theory of creation of lives through the process of evolution he practically demolished the stories of creation narrated in holy books.

Discoveries of various types of fossils in recent times, their microscopic analysis and determination of their antiquity the Palaeontologists Palaeo-bioscientists and anthropologists thorough their coordinated research and studies almost completed the most difficult task of linking the 'missing link' of Darwin. Except the conservative religionists every man with freethinking believes in the theory of evolution and man has evolved through this process of evolution. Darwin himself in his time was vehemently criticized, condemned for propagating his theory of evolution; he was exposed to repression in the same style of mediaeval period from the church. He had to tolerate many bitter and hated comments from important persons of the society. For example, the Bishop Wilber commented was the grand father of Darwin a monkey ? Some remarked Darwin himself looked like a monkey, hence he propagated theory that stated man evolved from monkey. But it appeared strange to me whereas Darwin and later on other naturalists and Palaeo-bioscientists through their devotion and research established the theory of evolution by analyzing and critical examining of large number of specimens and fossils, but a gentlemen, known as poet, and happened to be a national professor without reading or underrating a line of evolution theory or even seeing a fossil in his life time.

End of Part-1.

Go to Part-2


Dr. Ajoy K. Roy, Rtd. Professor of Physics, Dhaka University, Bangladesh; ardent activist of Human Rights.

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