Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Science We trust

There  is a gross misunderstanding on the concept of science. We hear religious folks paint a picture of science being imperfect or wrong. Often they misquote science. I hear statements like “Netwon’s laws are wrong they contradict with quantum physics, Einstein’s theories don’t work on quantum level” etc. The fact is that mostly they are talking out of context. Since most of us do not understand science we seem to think that science is a guess work as much as religion and astrology.

The fact is science works. It works reasonably well. I say “reasonably” because there is room for improvement, always. Newton’s laws may have limitations at certain scale, but we still launch rockets and send man to moon. The fundamental laws of physics have their own use and limitations.

For example, the absolute temperature - Zero Kelvin cannot be reached through experiments. So does that mean the whole science governing cooling and heating is wrong? Are we talking about some mythological unicorn called Zero Kelvin?


In reality, the laws of thermodynamics that governs heating and cooling still works as we can verify this by the application. We are able to produce liquid nitrogen. We are still able to cool gasses pretty close to absolute zero (down to 0.000 000 000 1 of a kelvin). So you can see how we can be misled by statements like the above which are factually correct but contextually wrong that it conveys a wrong impression.

Science works on an incremental basis. It is challenged and changed over time. This is not a weakness; this is strength.

When was the time when any of the holy books were updated? When was the last time when the astrological theories were updated?

For example, astrological predictions are based on astronomical observations made by our ancestors 1000 years ago. Since then the position of the starts and zodiacs have change significantly due to a phenomenon called “Precision of the equinox”. Also, there are 13 zodiacs recognized by the International Astronomical society. None of the astrologers have updated their calculations to include the 13th zodiac! Also, there is a significant difference between the charts used by the astrologers and the chart based on actual observation. The error in western (greek) astrology is as much as 30 days and the error in vedic astrology is around 3-5 days when you compare with real time observation using telescopes and satellites. In you input wrong data, you would get wrong output even if the program is correct!

Shouldn’t astrologers use the latest findings of astronomy and update the predictions?

Science doesn’t work this way. You can ask questions, you can challenge anything. This is the beauty of science.

I conclude with the following beautiful quote.

Experience is the only source of knowledge. The same methods of investigation which we apply to the sciences and to exterior knowledge should be applied to religion. If a religion is destroyed by such investigation and found it was nothing but a useless and unworthy superstition; the sooner it disappeared the better. Why religions should claim that they are not bound to abide by the standpoint of reason no one knows. For it is better that mankind should become atheist by following reason than blindly believe in two hundred million gods on the authority of anybody. Perhaps there are prophets, who have passed the limits of sense and obtained a glimpse of the beyond. We shall believe it only when we can do the same ourselves; not before. It is said that reason is not strong enough, that often it makes mistakes. If reason is weak why should a body of priests be considered any better guides?- Swamy Vivekananda

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About Me

I am an Engineer by profession. Spritual and Anit-guru advice is my part time job!