Much goes in the name of science in this country, and if I were to believe what I read, the rest of the world is not much different.
My personal favourite is Ravan and his Pushpak Viman (a flying machine that he used to kidnap women). Whenever priests, old men and the wise old men of the community described to me the greatness of the ancient Indian civilisation, all of them came to this inevitable conclusion – the western science is now trying to rediscover / reinvent / imitate what had been done in India 5000 years back (the number of years varies from person to person).
Look at the aeroplane. It’s not a modern invention at all! Ravan’s Pushpak Viman is proof enough that we had built the aeroplane first (notice the difference – the claim is not that we built a flying machine first, but that we built the aeroplane first). Also, all those arrows we read about in Ramayana and Mahabharata, they were actually missiles. Bramhastra must have been the nuclear missile.
The list is endless, What I have presented here are some of the simplest ones. The list of all the convolutions people work through to get at their desired result would merit a few fat volumes. I could write them here, except that the space in this post is too small.
When I was younger, I felt bad because I thought that this perspective originated from the desperate attempt of religion (or at least a part of it) to survive science by ingratiating itself.
But as I grew older, I realised that the origin was something much more fundamental and universal – our desperate attempt to feel superior in our continued effort not to acknowledge the reality in order to escape it. Religion here is a tool, serving its own need to survive as it serves in our need to protect our ego.
And not just religion, almost every other belief-system based on faith is trying to embrace science in its own way. Astrology, Vaastu Shaastra, Feng Shui, Pranic Healing, the list is endless. As I retrospect my childhood and think about how I was made to lose my faith in human rationality, I do not wonder that I became an existentialist so fast! Time and again it has been proved to me that society and culture can overcome intelligence and wisdom.
My other personal favourite is the one with Arghya (a physics graduate and my friend). In a spiritual gathering he was attending, a speaker talked about “mind-power being like a field that has great energy” (oops! try to reconcile these concepts of power, field and energy!).
His point, described in Arghya’s words, was, “… as it is a field it has waves in it and those waves travel and change peoples’ mind originating from some guy who’s meditating in the Himalayas and so on and so forth …”
At this point Arghya could not help asking that, “Is this field of thought a field in the same sense as used in Mathematics or Physics?”
The speaker very indignantly answered, “Yes my little child, they are just like the Electromagnetic Field and radio waves that your teachers teach you in Physics classes.”
It was only after this that Arghya mustered up his courage to ask – “In that case, what is the field Lagrangian for this field sir?”
He first allowed the speaker to say that he meant it in the same sense as in Physics, which he essential did because Arghya remembered vaguely that the speaker was a lawyer by profession!! But after a little more pick’n poke, Arghya received a full lecture on his lack of respect for the elders, for the Indian culture and the dumb arrogance of his generation in general.
I am sure the younger generation will come up with its own fad (or may be just inherit the old one in a new bottle), but I hope it’ll not be religion, even though the current trends imply otherwise.