Science and the notion of the ‘Universal Truth’

Science and the notion of the ‘Universal Truth’

Science has an edge over both politics and religion. Unlike the other two; the former is based mostly on experiments and empirical data. The idea of an uncontested and ‘universal truth’ is far more accepted in this field than in any other. Gravity, for example, is widely accepted as a universal truth because its effect can be seen and felt by all of us, daily. Even when scientific findings are disputed by sections of society, we find that opposition is mostly on non-scientific grounds. If we think about Darwin and the ‘Origin of Species’ in which he provides evidence that supports the Theory of Evolution, we find that those who oppose Darwinism and Evolution come largely from non-scientific spheres. 

 

Christianity, which champions creationism, continues to reject Darwin and his ideas as they perpetuate their unfounded belief that God created the Earth and the first humans, namely Adam and Eve. Similarly, in India, the Minister for Higher Education, Satyapal Singh, said that Evolution is a sham and must be removed from school curricula since no one had ever seen ‘an ape turn into a man’ and his religious scriptures had no references to it. Unsurprisingly, these haphazard, falsified truths are rejected by most. A new paper from Northeastern University psychology professor, Judith Hall even confirmed a long-examined hunch that more intelligent people tend to be less religious.

 

The limitations in adapting to change in the religious and political spheres are thus, pervasive. Godmen and politicians battle against change, be it a sociological change like the decriminalisation of homosexuality or a scientific change like the acceptance of evolution. On the contrary, scientists tend to be more open to changing their perceptions due to the possibility of different interpretations of the same truth or alternatives of objectivity. An example is GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism’s), which are not considered to be harmful by scientists, who have seen empirical data that proves that they are safe. At the same time, public perception remains that these food items are dangerous. One of the reasons for public perceptions lagging behind scientific thought is that they are shaped by the context of the society in which they live rather than on some notion of ‘proof’. For those with divine inclinations, religion plays a huge role as a system of belief and a school of thought to which they subscribe. So, the average Christian is likely to take the word of a priest as gospel irrespective of whether or not it has backing in science. 

 

Hence, most religious and political figures continue to pedal old, half-truths as fact and in the absence of a system of checks and balances, they continue to get away with their lives. In the scientific world, if disproven, the scientist accepts his fault and instead of unrealistically clinging on to an outdated lie like an egoist, he will move on with his research. It is clear, therefore, that change is not as widely accepted outside the world of science as it is within it. 

 

Aryaman Sood 

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Aryaman Sood

aryaman.sood_ug21@ashoka.edu.in

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