Science and Sensibility
These past few days have made me really happy. Indians are rising up asking for science and economics to take its rightful place. “Where are the scientists when we need them most ?” wonder many. How can we let the country be hijacked by monkey stories in the 21st century ?
Yes, it is time for another Reality Check
There are two universes, each with its own laws.
Universe 1 : The Universe of Life Stories
Who lives here ? The faithful and those who just want to piss off the atheists.
Laws : The system is completely based on life stories. Example : Karthi had money problems, went to Tirunallar and he became wealthy. Lakshmi prayed to Tirupati and passed her exams. Robert had a disease and a pastor touched him and he was cured.
History : Belief is history and history is belief. Depending on the flavour of the universe, history goes back in time. In the Treta yuga (when the Ramayan) happened, people lived for 10,000 years. So, you would have guys who are 6820 years old, and that would be normal. In other flavours, people could part the seas and turn water into wine.
Role of science : None. Science doesnt work here. Any scientific argument can be defeated with ease. This happens by just upping the ante until you link it up to a known scientific conundrum.
An example argument demonstrating the futility ( Faith -> Science -> Faith..)
Ram Sethu was man made -> No, it was formed by waves and coral deposits -> Ok fine, then Ram Sethu was made by God -> How did God make it ? -> He summoned the waves and the coral deposits. -> What about the vanara sena, then ? -> They are just metaphors representing divine forces -> What divine forces ? -> The sum of all scientific unknowns -> End of discussion. Science cannot win ! This is what I call a religious wall in my previous post.
Why are you asking scientists not to explore the absurdity of the Narasimha avatar or Hanuman ?
It would be a waste of the scientists PhD if they worked on research papers to address issues like the following.
“The feasibility for a monkey carrying a mountain to generate enough lift to become airborne ?”
It does not take a 5th standard kid to see the absurdity in this if he did not live in this “universe”. On the other hand, even Nobel Prize winning scientists who live in this “universe” will take up highly nuanced positions rationalizing this type of impossibility.It would result in a paper like this great lampoon.
Universe 2 : The Universe of the real world
Who lives here : Everyone including all those who live in Universe 1.
Laws : The system here is based on science. The behaviour of populations are influenced by game theory. Life stories are not acceptable here. We need each and every action to be based on scientific, economic, or social indicators and data.
History : Written mostly by winners of any given age. Needs evidence that can satisfy the measurement tools we have at our disposal today.
Role of life stories : Life stories have absolutely no role to play here. Everything must be touch and feel. This means Ekalavya stories and Manusmriti must not be considered to be evidence of the actual occurance of the events, established laws, or the characters. These characters belong in Universe 1 (life stories) and have no role here. We need data to validate every claim. Policies based on 5,000 or 10,000 year old events – must be pulled up by scientists.
Role of data and detailed examination : Critical. Simply because living in Universe 2 (the real world) is not optional. Words cannot substitute numbers. Poverty is real. Oppression is real. Words are not real, numbers are real.
We need scientists, sociologists, and economists in Universe 2. Do not waste your valuable time in Universe 1. Lets leave it to the atheist clubs.
What happens when the two Universes collide
This is where we loose our bearings. We run around like headless turkeys. Scientists forget they work in Universe 2 and make a fool of themselves by attempting to investigate events and characters in Universe 1.
In the Ram Sethu issue, scientists, geologists, and environmentalists must not attempt to address any issues in Universe 1. Instead, engage in an informed debate about the economics, environment, oceanography, and geology of the issue. Even then it may turn out to be a futile exercise because it may be that Faith trumps everything at this point in Indias history. Just do your job professionally and forget about the results (whether or not the Sethu is blasted). Incidentally, this approach is one of the beliefs of Universe 1 too (See the secret of work in the Gita - one of my personal favorites).
The role of the government
This is when the government (the ruler of the real world) must make a call. It is fully possible to steamroller the Ram Sethu ( a central artifact of Universe 1). Taking it a step further, it is even possible to outlaw Universe 1 altogether. China banned all religions until recently. If may also be possible to outlaw certain flavours of Universe 1. (Saudi bans all flavours except one). All these options are open.
It is all a question of balancing the two Universes. You are completely free to hit at Universe 1, but you are not free to avoid a backlash. If you think you can survive the backlash, there is little sense in not hitting.
At this point in history, too many people in India live in Universe 1. It is possible that in 100 years, membership to Universe 1 will drop or would move to another flavour of Universe 1 (water-into-wine flavour for example)
It is for the powers to decide whether they can withstand a backlash against an attack on Universe 1 now, or whether they should wait until conditions are more in its favour at some future point in time.