When science becomes dogma, it promotes nescience

In a brilliantly refreshing piece, Aravindan Neelakandan wrote about the blind rejection of evolution (rejectionists, for short) while simultaneously acknowledging a place for a debate on it. (1) This article would like to add to it in the following ways.

WHY SUCH REJECTIONIST IDEAS APPEAR?

Dogma has no place in science. Every theory is falsifiable, mutable as new evidence and knowledge gather in the pursuit of the ultimate knowledge, which science proclaims to endeavour to discover. Yet innumerable scientists and communicators of science often take a dogmatic stance, sometimes to the rejection of empirical evidence as it does not fit with their “pet theory”. This two-worded phrase is indeed a common usage in international academia.

Instead, scientists and communicators of science should be honest to lay open the evidence (empirical and experimental data) that is there, the hypotheses that are out there and how each one fits with, or not, with the given evidence, and what lacunae are left gaping.  They should stop pushing their wares and pet theories as gospel or indeed risk more rejections, not just that of evolutionary biology. The Christian theological foundations of Western philosophy and Western science perhaps are not completely lost yet as a trait. (2)

ONE REASON WHY DARWIN IS OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD

People just do not grasp the time-scales of evolutionary time, which is often in the millions of years. At the time when Darwin’s hypotheses were proposed the accepted timeline and age of the planet, universe and such were still counted in a few thousand years (science then was deliberately conforming to the primitive myths of the bible) to not more than a decade or so in the millions, depending on the field of study or the type of science speciality one looked at, at that time. Is it not then reasonable for people to expect to see evolution happening in front of their eyes or their ancestors’ eyes, and if not reject it? Can the blame not be placed on the biblical foundations of modern western science? (2)

DOES THE EVOLUTIONARY THEORY STILL HAVE LACUNAE?

The corollary of the evolutionary theory is the famous arguments made by Richard Dawkins in his much-acclaimed work called “The Selfish Gene”. Given the currently “accepted” scientific data and the state of evolutionary theories, it is still a good corollary even after a couple of decades of its publication. Drawing on from the corollary, if the purpose of life is to propagate just the genes, largely speaking, why build more and more complex and fragile beings. The simplest possible organism for a given set of even hundreds of thousands of genes would need to be far less complex than most animals, let alone mammals and complex vegetation. What scientifically attestable purpose does the vastly increased fragility that comes with the complexity of these higher organisms serve? What purpose does the increasing awareness and levels of consciousness serve?

While a banana tree or even a syncytium of amoebic cells can do better than a human or a chimpanzee for the purpose of the propagation of the selfish-genes why bother with advanced organisms like us? Even by the standards and dogmas of evolutionary theory, there are no scientific answers to this. We just do not have the data or a framework for it to be explained to any reasonable level or degree. The standard tropes of survival or fitness hypotheses just cannot explain for the wasteful and fragile complexity that we witness amongst living matter.

Hence, scientists should rather have the humility and guts to say that they do not know. Becoming dogmatic and dismissive will only create more rejectionists for science. Instead, their energy should be focussed on how the rejectionists hypotheses lack even the heights they have reached while simultaneously acknowledging any lacunae pointed out to them in the current scientific understanding, with some genuine respect and without an air of superiority.

Here, in particular, Aravindan Neelakandan’s nuanced approach to various remarks from the scientists to the spiritual masters in the article stands highly distinguished, especially in contrast to the mainstream media.

THE INDIC FOUNDATIONS OF MODERN PSYCHOLOGY: AN INDICATOR?

For any planetary civilisation to be considered universally advanced it should be able to understand itself better. This will be an excellent marker for any species or civilisation claiming an advanced intellect for its beings. How does modern western psychology fair compared to the consciousness studies of the ancient Indians and in extension their understanding of the human mind?

The various “advances” known in psychological pursuits of the West is from Carl Jung’s theories which were by his own acknowledgement based on the Indian theories of mind and consciousness. (3) But how many Indians, let alone Westerners, including the students of psychology themselves know about this. What does all this say about our modern sciences? What worth is our acceptance or rejection of any sciences while our modern sciences are so primitive even when compared to our own past understanding of the self? Is regression to be celebrated? But is that not what we are doing day in and day out?

Are not these rejectionists a direct outcome of this regression in some sense at least? These rejectionists are a symptom of a disease, not the disease itself. And Aravindan’s article takes a well-balanced first step in addressing this disease.

(Many thanks to Sudarshan T Nadathur for reviewing the draft)

REFERENCE

  1. Neelakandan A (2018) Why An Obituary To A Gorilla Is A Dharmic Deed While Attacking Darwin Is Not. Swarajya. Available at: https://swarajyamag.com/science/why-an-obituary-to-a-gorilla-is-a-dharmic-deed-while-attacking-darwin-is-not [Accessed September 10, 2018].
  2. Raju CK (2007) Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th C. CE (Pearson Education India)
  3. Rajiv Malhotra Official (2018) Indian Influences on Western Mind Sciences (Youtube) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCPoUTINESo [Accessed August 27, 2018].

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi.

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