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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How to establish a scientific theory?

It's probably the biggest issue in the USA. Whether someone called God "intelligently designed" life and all its features, or was it all through chemical reactions followed by the so controversial word "evolution"? While many believed that the 1925 Scopes-monkey trial settled once and for all in favor of evolution; in 1999, the Kansas Board of Education decided to delete the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum. So much so, George Bush has stressed the need to present both views with equal respect in schools. If any one is interested in the details of this issue, please read this great piece in the New Yorker.

School texts across India mention creationism along with evolution as one of the possible theories. But while creationism gets a paragraph, evolution is dealt with in much greater detail thereby implicitly establishing evolution as the correct theory. While Hinduism (over 2500 years old) commonly believes that it was Brahma who created life, Hindus in general don’t have any conflict in accepting both evolution and Brahma-creationism. Of course, Hindus have this remarkable ability to simultaneously believe in two contrasting theories. (As I have said in an earlier post, a Hindu student of advanced physics finds it perfectly OK to pray to a Sun God while studying fusion in detail). So can people in the US live like the Hindus do, or will they wait till the pope (who because of his most remarkable scientific background, also happens to be the final approver of scientific theories) says more than that "evolution is more than just a theory"?


Thomas said...

The Catholic church accepts evolution as the source of the physical body, and credits God for the creation of the soul. That seems like the only reasonable position a church can take.

I like to think that human life is just an intermediate step, and eventually we'll evolve into a more advanced life form. I hope so, anyway.

Aswin said...

As reg living lives with ironies.. Hindus must be miles ahead of the rest. I recently saw the ISRO chairman offering prayers at Tirupathi before a launch and apparently wished for its success. And somebody told me that ISRO chooses 'auspicious' dates for its launches. I do not know if this is a fact.. but I hope it isn't true!

Gaurav said...

Making and Breaking theories is just a means for a human to survive. No matter how many theories you make or believe in, what really matters is why is it important to actually have a theory. The answer is as simple as the theory behind eating a hearty meal per day. Survival! A human (.. due to the gift of intelligence..) has to justify his state of life. And thus the theory. Creationism may be a theory that allows say Hindu housewives (not generalizing, just an e.g.) to justify their existence and allegience to their husbands and more so their life. On the other hand, evolution may be a staple diet of a person with some scientific aptitude. No matter what the theory, what matters is the survival of both kinds of believers.
And aswin, ISRO head going to Tirupathi is his way of answering his self. Don't be so embarassed by it.

Shivaji said...

I wonder how the evolved human species will be like, say 5 million years from now.
@aswin and gaurav:
Gaurav, i agree with your point that "Making and Breaking theories is just a means for a human to survive". But when the ISRO goes into such superstitious paths, there is something else going in as well: it's probably lack of believing in science enough or being too trigger-happy in life to take a puase and understand that belief in one means you cant probably believe in another (as in the ISRO case)..

Gaurav said...

good line of argument shivaji. I can answer dat but this series of arguments will probably end up nowhere. coz it is a matter of belief. Anyways, just to conclude from my side.. remember things in this world are not just black and white. There are shades of gray also. There is always the case when people have intermingled views and it doesnot bother them if they are actually on the black or the white side. You see what I am arriving at, right!Good blog by the way!!