Last updated on October 13th, 2013
At the outset, I beg the reader's pardon for using strong words like science fanaticism and anti-religion fanaticism but I think they accurately describe the tone and words used in an article in The Hindu, "Let’s aim for a post-theistic society", http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/lets-aim-for-a-posttheistic-society/article5154603.ece. [I am a software technologist who has very high degree of respect for mainstream science & technology. I am also a lover of various religions of the world that do not approve of hatred and aggression, except in self-defense. I believe, I have a good balance in my strong and enthusiastic interests in both software technology and religion.]
I managed to get a couple of comments of mine shown on the above web page. The first comment referenced an earlier comment by a Nikhil which said that the article was a science vs. religion one and gave some pro-religion points of view. It is the second comment from the bottom of all comments shown in the article above (you need to click "Show all comments" to get to it).
Now for my comment (7th comment from bottom of all comments):
@Nikhil: Very well said.
Natarjan writes, "What supernatural powers? Let us first realise that there is no supernatural MIRACLE that has withstood the scrutiny of science." But that does not mean that science has shown that supernatural MIRACLES were, are and will be impossible! Science has to either prove well known MIRACLES to be false or simply say that it is not known whether these cases are genuine miracles or not. The strident words which Natarajan uses tries to convey an impression that supernatural MIRACLES like those reported in Christian and Hindu scripture are impossible [I do not know Islamic scripture well enough to mention it in this context].
People with genuine supernatural powers may not have been examined in a controlled scientific laboratory environment. But large number of reliable witness accounts of these very, very rare paranormal phenomena are certainly available across religions, countries and centuries of time.
from: Ravi S. Iyer
Posted on: Sep 23, 2013 at 14:35 IST
--- end my comment (on The Hindu article web page) ---
Later a Raamganesh commented to me (10th comment from bottom of all comments) that there is "paucity of evidence" for miracles and that when scientists have tested miracle-claims they have always come up short on evidence.
My response comment to him (15th comment from bottom of all comments):
@Raamganesh - Parapsychology scientists have investigated and found some reliable witness accounts evidence for paranormal phenomena. But most mainstream scientists do not accept such parapsychology work and demand extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary paranormal claims.
The late Dr. Karlis Osis said it very well in the context of one such person with extraordinary paranormal powers, "Nothing would have clinched the matter so well as, say, a week or two spent in the best parapsychological laboratories in the world, and that we offered." Unfortunately for science, the concerned person declined the offer.
I think scientists like Natarajan need to take a balanced view of the matter and not go overboard by trying to convince people at large that paranormal phenomena (miracles) reported in the holy scripture of various religions are fake. Science does not know for sure, one way or the other, and scientists like Natarajan must adhere to the truth by stating that clearly.
from: Ravi S. Iyer
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 16:21 IST
--- end my comment (on The Hindu article web page) ---
I feel quite satisfied with this comment appearing on The Hindu web page for this article. I think it settles the rationalist scientist going overboard with his science fanaticism & anti-religion fanaticism bit, for the discerning reader. BTW the above comment refers to the offer Dr. Karlis Osis had made to Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the 1970s as mentioned in Prof. Haraldsson's book on Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
I had tried some other comments which got rejected by the moderator. I would like to put down below some points from the comments rejected by The Hindu moderator.
Till we have a miraculous Jesus Christ or a Krishna like person/god-man who is willing to co-operate with scientists for such investigation under controlled conditions, science will not accept the existence of such supernatural/paranormal phenomena. That is the way of science and I have no issues with that. Many mainstream scientists do not accept results from parapsychology investigations and even question its status as a science.
Human knowledge is not limited to mainstream science. IMHO, we should be open to both scientific and non-scientific knowledge.
For more on this matter (reliable witness accounts of paranormal phenomena) please read Prof. Erlendur Haraldsson's new/updated book, "Modern Miracles: The Story of Sathya Sai Baba: A Modern Day Prophet". A review of it is available at: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2013/09/review-of-modern-miracles-story-of.html.
The article (Natarjan's article in The Hindu) lacks scientific temper and smacks of science fanaticism and anti-religion fanaticism.
--- end points from comments that got rejected by the moderator ---
A line that I would like to add which I did not mention in any of my attempted comments, and which was also sent to me by a correspondent (in a slightly different form), is:
Science is not the be-all and end-all of life.
An important point that struck me later:
The article in The Hindu referenced at the beginning of this post states, "But modern science has been able to explain almost all natural phenomena so that the purview of the unknown has shrunk considerably and the fear of nature is largely irrelevant."
Has modern science been able to explain death? IMHO, mainstream science is quite clueless about what happens to a person's mind-personality/mental-being on death, and whether reincarnation is possible.
Has fear of death become largely irrelevant? IMHO, mainstream science is quite ineffective in giving man strength of mind to face death and bodily & mental suffering. Spirituality and religion have over millenniums given billions of people the world over, mental strength to face suffering and death. By trying to destroy the faith of billions of people the world over in religion and spirituality, scientists like Natarajan are essentially trying to destroy the source of mental strength these billions of people have to combat suffering and death.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the defense of religion articles that appeared in The Hindu on October 13th 2013 as responses to the post-theistic society article by Vasant Natarajan mentioned at the top of this post. Given below are the article links and comments I submitted on the associated web pages (don't know if they will pass the moderator and get shown).
1) Einstein misquoted, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/einstein-misquoted/article5229386.ece
It is wonderful to see the correct and full quotation of Einstein being provided thereby correcting Vasant Natarajan. Misquoting famous scientists views on God to suit some writer's personal agenda is deplorable.
2) Blame it on politics, not religion, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/blame-it-on-politics-not-religion/article5229388.ece
"But we should not forget that so much humanitarian service is carried out by religious organisations. So it is not religion that has to be discarded but religious politics." "He is outside your jurisdiction. If you want to meet Him, you have to undertake a spiritual odyssey or do some out-of-the world investigative journalism." So very well said, sir. I thank you for this superb response article to Vasant Natarajan's emotional and unbalanced attack on religion.
3) Science tells us what is, and not what ought to be, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/science-tells-us-what-is-and-not-what-ought-to-be/article5229392.ece
"Blaming religion for all the violence in the world is not knowing history. The two World Wars had nothing to do with religion, yet together they have brought more suffering than all the history of mankind. You cannot blame religion because of a few misguided individuals and do away with it." "It is wishful thinking to say that the post-theistic society will be a bliss." Very well said, sir. The thirst for religion and spirituality in former communist countries like Russia shows how vital religion and spirituality are for the well being of society.
4) Both science and religion have a place under the sun, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/both-science-and-religion-have-a-place-under-the-sun/article5229402.ece
"Therefore, Prof. Natarajan’s claim that “modern science has been able to explain almost all natural phenomena so that the purview of the unknown has shrunk considerably” is preposterous." Thank you so much for crisply bringing out this point. In my humble opinion, some intellectually bright scientists tend to get carried away by their knowledge and intellect and end up making preposterous statements. Sometimes they start lecturing these preposterous statements to the world at large!
"We may not need a sun-god as the professor argues but we cannot deny people’s right to be wonderstruck by the apparently inexhaustible solar energy that sustains life though we have not fully comprehended the origin of the sun and various stars and planets." It is my belief that prayer has immense power. If a person is able to tap into the power of worship & prayer by imagining a sun-god the effect of the worship and prayer are real even if the sun-god is imaginary. A scientifically knowledgeable person may pray and worship a formless God and achieve the same effect. Why deny the less scientifically knowledgeable/inclined person the power of worship of a nature-God?
---- end Hindu article links and submitted comments ---
Later I felt that I should have used stronger words instead of the last sentence above. A better version would have been: Who has given the brilliant atheist scientist the right to deny the less scientifically knowledgeable/inclined person the power of worship of a nature-God? I consider freedom of worship of even a so-called imaginary God like a nature-God a fundamental human right.
Some more words on nature-God worship: Feelings of awe and joy are vital for worship. Nature is a tremendous and free source of awe and joy. The sun is such a vital natural force/phenomenon that without it one cannot imagine life as we live now. Using the sun to get into a mode of awe and joy, and worship it as an embodiment of the Divine is such a natural and easy thing to do. It does not need any sophisticated education for the sun to create the feeling of awe and joy in people.
Vedanta tells us Isa vasyam idam sarvam - God lives in all this. So the sun is also an embodiment of divinity/God. Viewing the sun as a nature-God therefore does not go against core Hindu Advaita philosophy. The acid test of sun-God worship (or any God worship) is whether such worship gives the worshiper happiness and joy, and even help him/her when in distress. If the worshiper is getting what he/she wants from such worship who is the atheist scientist to stop him/her doing sun-God worship? What does the atheist scientist know about the power of faith (in any God including a nature-God) to give happiness and joy, and even work miracles? The atheist scientist is free to practise his/her atheism but he/she has no business whatsoever to enforce his/her atheism on other people and prevent them from worshiping nature-Gods and other Gods.