Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When science becomes a rival…

Richard Dawkins has pointed out the three bad reasons for believing anything and they are ‘tradition’, ‘authority’ and ‘revelation’. As a matter of tradition our ancestors have passed on to us many superstitions many of which have also been exposed. Dawkins explains that a story passed on through several generations over a period of centuries sometimes transforms into a truth. Of the other two bad reasons, revelation is never to be believed thing, as it is very much similar to intuition and should undergo the same process that a hypothesis has to. Authority, as a reason for believing something, means believing it because you are told to believe it by someone who is important.

Science has made our lives easier and comfortable too. But science becomes a rival when it opposes the beliefs of the religious and social world (remember, what Copernicus and Galileo were rewarded with for their discoveries).Science tries to find out the root cause for every occurrence and in doing so it has exposed many superstitions and misbeliefs. When Copernicus proposed heliocentric system for planets and the sun, orthodox christians opposed it. At first he feared the oppostion and so he kept the circulation of his theory limited to his friends only but then later on on being forced by somebody he made it public.Fortunately or unfortunately Copernicus was not alive to face the allegations.

(Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist; a reader in Department of Zoology at Oxford University. His essay ‘Good and Bad Reasons for Believing’ is included amongst many other by prominent scientists in ‘How Things Are’- a good book to read for science lovers as well as for those who hate it.)