Scientific Mind and Building of a Society based on Science Oriented Thought -2

 Ajoy Roy


Continuation from Part- 1

Now we know, apart from a few contemporary naturalists including Wales, a good many natural scientists before Darwin. The great epic poet Gayety after critical and comparative studies and examination of skulls of human beings and other animals proposed some kind of theory of evolution. Long before Darwin, Geologist Bafoon in his 'Natural History' opined that present continents, great mountains, and valleys .... would be destroyed in time and a new cycle of creation would usher in. Another Geologist in his book 'Theory of Earth' and Gugmiller in his 'Testimony of Rocks' supported the views of Bafoon very strongly. But to the religionists, views of science are not important, the views of the holy scripts carry greater weight. For this very reason, the faculty of Theology of Paris proscribed those opinions of Bafoon as those contradicted views of the Church and Bible. Bafoon in order to save his life instead of arguing with the Church admitted the supremacy of the Bible. Descendents of such 'fatwoabazis' i.e. opponents of 'Science and Reason' are innumerable even today in our society and their existence are strongly felt.

The modern Palaeontologists and Palaeo-bioscientists now hold the view that the first life evolved in earth more than three thousand millions years back i.e. after about one thousand million years of creation of the planet earth. The First life was just a single cell - these bacteria-like beings are called 'Prokaryots'. From this mono-cell life gradually evolved into multi-cell beings. Through long process of evolution all form of modern lives and animals evolved; the human beings are no exception. Life scientists have recognized twelve elements that played significant roles in the creation of life of which four were most important- 'Nucleotide', Nucleic acid, specific temperature and suitable ambient pressure. One fine opportune moment having appropriate temperature and pressure those elements combined to form first life, a special state of matter. A great leap forward- a transition from a state, 'lifeless inorganic matter' to another state, matter with conscience. That what we call life today. But the Life scientists did not stop here mere knowing how life had evolved, nor their scientific query and research about life stopped. Through the relentless research on life science and Genetic-sciences they now know mystery of life; man has now the key of controlling and modifying his own life. Man has now acquired immense power of revealing the mystery of the genetic programme inside the body and modifying this programme- the programme that in fact controls creation of life. We get overwhelmed with strangeness and joy and when we are told that all forms of life depends strangely only on limited number of 'clues' of chemical elements and a programme. These four elements have a common name nucleotide with its components: adenine, thiamin, cytosine, and guanine (ATCG). These four symbols are called 'letters of life'. What a strange that permutation-combinations of these basic four letters make the difference between a rose, a bush or a wheat-plant from a microbe, an elephant or a human being. We may mention here that a typical genetic programme in a human body is made of 3000 units made of 4 elements (ATCG) and are residing in million of millions of cells in a spiral configuration forming a giant molecule.

Life scientists have estimated that if molecular biology have the capability then it could print out this programme in thousand volumes, each volume containing one thousand pages. Of these volumes of books each letter is its gene that, depending on whose clues the fundamental elements of a body are arranged. With the help of sensitive chemical equipment these 'instructions' arranged along the long helical spiral could be identified. These could be recognized as milestones and within them position of gene of decease could be located. In this way the medical scientists can detect whether a man is carrying a defective gene, whether a child is born with disability- so that necessary curative measure could be taken. The same technique could be adopted in more complicated decease like heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetics, even cancer. So the future science of medicine is more of preventive nature rather than curative. They would be able to foretell about decease on a stronger footing that will make easy for the doctors to remove the cause of decease rather than cure it. It is not unlikely that an old man would be able to lengthen his life-span with full vigour and vitality.

However we have to be conscious of one thing- the ethical side of this science in its application. We are also afraid of this immense potentiality and power at the hand of genetic doctors and engineers. We of course praise our genetic scientists for producing high yield rice or wheat. But we are afraid that the same genetic technology may be applied on human beings. The physicists in the decade of fifty's faced the same ethical crisis as the genetic scientists are facing today - where to draw the 'line of boundary' of further carrying on research. Would they carry on research without taking into account of the fall out, or they would themselves draw a line where to stop binding themselves with some ethical values. Of course there is no limit of acquiring knowledge, nor there should be any imposed from outside - even if knowledge is concerned with genetics. But it must also be admitted that any attempt of changing the natural gene programming of human being except in the case of deceased gene would be unethical and against the natural course. Genetic engineers must obey some strict ethical laws and their activity must be monitored constantly by the society and fellow genetic scientists. We must draw a line of demarcation. To cure a gene affected decease is most welcome; but to perform this engineering work he must be very responsible- he must be warned; he must ensure himself that no gene must be transplanted in those cells taking part in procreation. Transplantation of gene in a procreation cell or in a newly fertilized cell must be treated as illegal act in the law of the county- the law must be universally endorsed by the international comity of nations. Because this doctoring effect would be carried on from generation to generation thereby causing a change in the otherwise natural hereditary process.

The genetic inheritance is such a wealth that it embraces the whole of the human race. There must not be any business with respect to genetic engineering. Any attempt to change the natural process of our future generation must be treated as a great offence. If any engineering or interference were permitted the natural balance, equilibrium and unison of the nature would be destroyed. The crown of evolution is the 'Homo sapiens', and to preserve this species the scientists, social scientists, statesmen and the ethical people have immense joint responsibility. We all must share this responsibility collectively as well as individually. In this connection may we remember the cautionary remark of Aatoan de Saint Ecsuperi ' Man has indeed forgot one truth. But you- yes you must not forget it. Whatever you achieved, it is your responsibility and obligation to preserve it.'

Man has come very near to a door of infinite potentiality-, on the one hand to him panoramic view of material is no more unknown; he knows that the Universe was once created and the moment of time began; in this vast macroscopic world holds the strict deterministic laws of theory of relativity. But on the other hand to him the mystery of the microscopic world has been unfolded, - this is the world of uncertainty - world of probability; governing laws are due to quantum mechanics. Bioscience has revealed the mystery of creation- it is not the God that has created the universe or life; this science has revealed the laws of genetic sequence from generation to generation.

But I feel sad when we see that we, being a part of the enlightened race of Homo sapiens, our society is confined within a small well, full of contradictions, and ours is the society where free thinking is restricted, not encouraged in every steps. We live in a society that is afraid of Taslima Nasrin for her critical writings, demanding her trial, wants trial of humanist Kabir Choudhury, of Shamsur Rahman, perhaps the greatest Bengali poet of our time; the same society wanted to bar Begum Sufia Kamal from her humanistic activities, the most dedicated lady of our time for the cause of women and humanism, wanted to stop courageous thoughtful writer Ahmad Shariff and declared him 'Murtad'. This happens only in a society blind with superstitions and has not yet assimilated message and philosophy of science.


No body denies the utility of the holy books that have made contribution to the human society in the past. But the words stated in those books are the last words, the facts and truth narrated are the perpetual truth for all time can not be accepted. If we do not search for knowledge, then truth ceases and creativity withers away.

The famous Bengali Scientist, Astrophysicist M. N. Saha created a sensation in the scientific world when he discovered his famous theory of thermal ionization. At that time a countryman of his (Dhakaite), a man of scholar in old Vedic scriptures, asked Saha to explain to him about his invention. Saha with his youthful exuberance tried to explain his contribution in astrophysics and its far-reaching consequences. The gentleman was not convinced nor charmed. He commented in his 'Dhakhaia dialect', " this is so! but nothing new - these are all in Byada (Veda )" ["Shobi Byade asey !"]. Is the number of such pundits rare in our society even today ? Perhaps number has increased. A well known physicist of our country, known as well versed in 'Holy Quran' and a pundit of Islamic studies, is constantly preaching that whatever modern science has discovered after toils of century after century of greatest genius of the world, are found in the 'Holy Book'. If every truth, every information every phenomenon is in the Holy Book then what is the use of searching for knowledge - this is an automatic corollary. Our study should be then confined to Quran and Hadis,- what is the point of studying Science Journals like Physical Review or likes... because every thing is in the Holy Book. Our only duty should be to issue fatowa which act is Quran-Hadis permitted and which is not. My humble question is why then Imam Gazzali, perhaps the greatest authority in Islamic Studies and learning could not discover the laws of Gravity or Newtonian laws of motion. Why don't then our Islamic Pundit Imam of Baitul Mukarram make an attempt to invent 'Quantum Relativistic laws' we desperately need to describe both events of Macroscopic world and of Microscopic world of atomic and sub-atomic world of uncertainty, yes all events starting from the very moment of creation of the universe. Why theoretical physicist Nobel Laureate Salam, a devoted Kadiani Muslim of Pakistan could discover the unity of electro-weak forces of nature with devoted research, just not practicing rituals prescribed in Quran, whereas a devoted Sunni Muslim of great learning in Islamic Philosophy, Quran and Hadis failed to do it if the theory of electro-weak field is contained in the Holy Quran. Do I need to cite any more examples !

In our subcontinent, where the society is still blind with superstitions and supernatural beliefs, when we need a progressive forward looking and free thinking intellectuals for making the society open, liberal and science oriented , the so called religionist scientists, engineers are the hindrance to the society- they are trying to retrogress us in the backward direction. A class of educated people, holding university degrees, is out to establish the supernaturalism, transcendentalism, telepathy etc as scientific by adopting some fraudulent methods including magic. Unfortunately this so called educated class have within its fold physicists, chemists, agriculturists, engineers, even doctors, and these people are the greatest hindrance in making our society science oriented- a society based on reason and logic, and our people to have scientific mind.



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

Page 1  2