Friend at the science trust leaders and active defenders of the scientific outlook. I bring you greetings and warm congratulations on organizing this important event. Because when we defend science, we defend civilization. When we advanced science, we promote the principles on which the ideal society should be founded. And today I want to just share with you information from Andra pradesh in the morning, on TV nine, we had information that a six month old baby was sacrificed because Tantra required that and the child was killed for some material benefits. Last year, in November, not far from the high tech city of Hyderabad. Just a few hours by Dr. We went to a village where a 60 year old man was stoned to death. stone by stone in a village of four hundred people. They killed a man because they suspected him of practicing sorcery. January 15, two years ago, was a great solar eclipse, the total solar eclipse, the annular eclipse, that upset life in India, so much. A group of humanists rationalists, one of our colleagues, the MANOVA VIKASA VEDI, organised a public demonstration in the streets of Hyderabad, considered along with Bangalore, one of the high tech capital cities of our country and all that they did was set up a tent cook some food because cooking food during an eclipse is taboo. And they also got a few pregnant women to come uncut vegetables because as all of us know, cutting vegetables by pregnant women during eclipse time can harm the fetus. This is the taboo in the minds of many to break that. This is what some of the science popularizers of Hyderabad is doing. This meeting being held in a very peaceful manner was interrupted by some 60 to 70 fundamentalist Hindu groups, members. They pulled down the canopy that was erected out the food that was being cooked. And they were very aggressive against the ones who were trying to explain that the solar eclipse is nothing to be afraid of. It is simply the shadow of the moon. Having to explain that in a country with sent a satellite to the moon is the tragedy of India today. And when these aggressors destroyed the meeting, and this was covered by TV, I was in the TV channel, discussing and arguing with people about what they did, and how it was the fundamental duty of the Indian citizen, as enjoined by the Indian constitution article 51 a hedge to promote the scientific spirit, the scientific temper and so reform. This was rejected, of course by the fundamentalists. And they said, when the baby would be born to those pregnant women who were made to cut vegetables during the time, when it is dangerous for them to do, they would file a case against these people for having hurt the fetus. This is not happening in Nigeria, not happening in Afghanistan. And this is not happening 500 years ago. This is happening today in India on television, and not to one person from those who are responsible in public life. Not one scientist comes forward to say this is wrong. How long has it been? Since we have seen as scientists coming forward in public life, and saying, I stand for the scientific temper, I shall defend the realist materialist outlook about the universe. It has been a long time.
Ganesha Idol drank milk!
Even the time and Ganesha drank milk. In a hungry country, a God decides to drink milk which should be in children stomachs. And small rivulets of milk are seen outside temples. When we requested in 1996, the scientists of Hyderabad, they said, Oh, we can’t come to conclusions, we have to examine the evidence. These are ready to laugh or to cry about this desperate situation, where a person trained in the sciences
Practicing that is unable to affirm the physical nature of the universe and is waiting for evidence. Maybe this is what we should expect in a country where before sending a satellite into space, you have to take a replica of that satellite, take it to Tirupati, venga tesora Swami, with the government funds, go there with the government funds, pray to the goddesses there and the gods there. Go to your shopping Centre from where you launch the satellite and then pay to the local God is there just so that God will not do anything untoward to your satellite when it is flying into space? What else can we expect? Can we expect the scientists to say They don’t play in France before they launch a satellite. It still flies.
It is China does it and there is no problem with their satellite. Why can it not be done in India? Why does it need Sanskrit to fry to fly? Why does it need an invocation to God? Because they have no understanding and no loyalty to the profession that they practice. When scientists are like that, why will TV channels be different? Why will those who are making a business of religion be different? This is what we are confronted today. This is the problem we are facing today.
And India, which is living five or 600 years ago, or probably 1500 years ago. already some of the things we are trying to remind the scientists are what Aria but on the others already said 1500 years ago in our country, the retreat from reason, the rejection of science.
Harmful Superstitions in India.
The complete indifference to the world today and the recent advances made in science has led us to where we are where we are telling teachers of science that there is no Rahu and Ketu. And therefore, a Rahu column means nothing where we are having to tell people that during an eclipse, no special race emanate from the sun, passed through nine crore kilometers Looking specially for pregnant Hindu women, so that they can affect the fetus in their body. What a disgrace for this country that we have to now talk about this as the obagi said, on TV, we have in Hindi I know the name, it is another nazzer suruc Shah coverage in school we are teaching children that light falls on an object reflects reaches the retina and therefore, we can see things and other structure coverage at the cost of 4900 rupees teaches you that it is your eyes which send the race and therefore, there is some evil eye that you can cast on people.
Look around this is a noises where we are Look around people wearing colored threads to transform their fate and their future people wearing colored stones so that their future can be changed.
In, in under pradesh on TV, that is a very famous program called Uncle. Uncle lou is numbers. So, for tune in numbers is what the program claims to offer you. It is very sad. People call and say my daughter has not yet got married. What should I do? My son is not getting a job. What should I do? And the answers being given are very simple. Your names spelling must be changed. Add an S or a hit Or a y or double than the letters being used, and your future will be changed. Not one fellow all these educated idiots who have gone to school, college and probably even have a PhD. Not one of them says, How can I change a Telugu name in English? The remedy being offered to the change of spellings is an English whereas the name is Telugu. Not one will ask this question.
The danger is not simply the stupidity of this, the danger is how it will weaken our democracy. When we cease to believe in the power and the effect of human effort, when we cease to believe that we can remake our lives, our society then we cease to be people who are worthy of a democracy. Because the democracy depends on the belief, the understanding and the conviction that we are all able to rebuild our lives based on our efforts, and that we have that possibility through a system which we call democracy.
And that weakening we see already before elections, politicians go to temples in under Pradesh, where there is a strong demand now for a separate state, within under Pradesh, there are people who believe that they want Telangana state and there are people who believe that they should not be a Telangana state. And what do these intellectuals do? They perform Yaga so that they can achieve a separate Telangana And they perform another Yaga. So that Telangana cannot be formed.
The leader of the separate group has performed like they have done recently, without much good effect in Karnataka, the set through some hard yogam to destroy your enemies. I wish this were true, because then the Indian Army would not be needed. All that you need is a picture of Zelda re Benazir Bhutto, or General Musharraf on two or three pins and you can take that picture and keep poking pins and then you have destroyed the enemy. For those who think that they are the enemies.
What an absurd life we are leading national life we are leading in our country. There are some rays of hope, if not from the scientists. We have it from the recently retired Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Mark India katroo, who has been named the head of the press Council of India. I don’t know how many have seen his interviews. He has spoken on CNN, IBM, and he has won the media of the country, saying the only way India can progress is through science and astrology and other meaningless meaningless rituals should not be publicized by news channels, he has clarified and he said that if the media cannot regulate itself, then it would need to be made accountable by those who are responsible for doing that. Justice cartoon, I do not know what is person and beliefs are is a clear watery, of the scientific understanding of the universe. He has called me astrology absurd and he has warned the media and he has asked for the electronic media also to be covered by under the press Council. remate says something that I heartily applaud that somebody in public life even if not a scientist by profession has spoken openly about the problem. The media has said we do not need somebody to regulate us. We do not have to have an emergency situation and similar nonsense. While talking of that, they have started reacting.
Astrology on TV
The news Broadcasters Association, based in Delhi has made a resolution that in the news media and not other channels But the news channels they will not air astrology anymore. CNN IBM has announced that they are withdrawing their astrology program and for contractual reasons, this will not happen immediately, but the process has begun. So they are starting to regulate themselves. Now that the regulator is looking at them. This is a first step and welcome step. Why is astrology absurd? It is absurd because it is based on nonsense that science has exposed ignorance that science has dispelled already, many centuries ago. And yet, we have practitioners of this dismal art of cheating people sitting in TV channel. The one real disaster that happens in India, whenever there is a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse is that the astrologer sits in the TV channel. They are invited by the TV channels to sit and discuss. And this is most condemnable. Today, I had the hilarious experience of sitting with an astrologer. The other good thing is of course, that rationalist these days are also invited to have a fight with them. So I had this very hilarious and interesting experience of sitting with an astrologer on the 19th of May this year. So this is a recent experience when the lunar eclipse happened. And he was speaking about disasters and great changes that will happen in in the world and so on. And I said so Name three great changes that will happen And he said that surely there will be a change of Prime Minister by the end of the year. So, my question to him was simply in which country and he was shocked by the question.
And he said, What do you mean by in which country? I said this lunar eclipse is happening in 52 countries. So, in which country are you talking about this change? And he said in India because our astrology is India centric. There was a time when astrologers thought that the world was Earth centric geocentric from there, this has degenerated to being an India centric thing.
Look at this buffoon sitting and talking whatever nonsense that comes into their mouths. There was one fellow I was sharing this information with Dr. Murali who was sitting with me in another TV channel. And he said, I can predict that in the next six months, there will be a serious terrorist attack in India. I think a polite person would then start engaging him in a discussion and dialogue. Not being a polite person. I said to the TV, anchor, please stop recording. They also like a bit of drama. Please stop recording. So she was shocked. She said Why? I said this gentleman sitting here has some special knowledge about About the security of our country. He has specific information about acts of violence which will be perpetuated on citizens of India, please call the police. Let them interrogate him. No, no, I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean that at all. No, no, this is not what I was talking about. The fools are exposed for what they are by their own admission. And that is good. It is good. Because they have learned a new language.
They all speak the language of science, though. They mean nothing of science in their talk. The practitioners and promoters of that absurd branch of medicine that they claim they represent homeopathy. They are the ones who are going about talking in the language of science. Obviously, homeopathy is patent nonsense. And yet they are able to offer their services without being caught under the scanner of either consumer coats or of any other regulatory body. If you believe that modern science is telling us the truth about the universe, or the best that we can know about the universe, homeopathy cannot be effect at all. At these absurd levels of dilution. There is no medicine to a question that somebody said, Can you name one medicine, which has no side effects? I think professor in the neck said homeopathy because it does not even have a main effect. And yet people who are Selling homeopathy are actually doing a great rolling business in the country today. The purveyors of pseudoscience, I don’t have to say much about because Kerala is the heart and the mother of a huge number of pseudo alternative medical approaches to medical problems. The whole country has advertisements about people from Kerala, who can cure aids who can cure so many other problems, medical problems, and they are going unchallenged. And here of course, is the annual pilgrimage to see a star which can be seen from anywhere in the world. But people have to climb a hill to just spot a star which as I say, can be spotted from anywhere in the world. And here were the first temple entry campaigns of the of the country started. In this state.
Women Entry in Sabarimala Kerala
Women are denied the possibility to visit a God of their choice of their faith. This is not atheist saying we want to go to Sabari Mala. It is Hindu women who are denied entry to visit a place of public worship, in the name of Orthodoxy. In the name of religion, that has been much to be done, and I see this going hand in hand, backwardness in religion, backwardness in knowledge, backwardness in human rights go together. It is not for nothing, that in the countries where religion is the strongest women The most oppressed, be that in Hindu India, Hindu, Nepal, Islamic Pakistan or any other country. The stronger religion and religious Orthodoxy is, the worse the situation for human rights is in those countries. As popularizers of science, I hope we will realize that all these aspects are interconnected human rights, the faith, the belief that the human being can recreate his own society, her own society, on the basis of human efforts that human rights, democracy cannot prevail without the support of science. And yet, even when we have finished off with the absurd claims of based superstition, We still have the highest superstition to fight.
And the highest superstition is this, those who are caught in the trap set by ideology, who are unwilling to examine the claims and the assumptions of their ideology, who would like science to answer the needs of ideology, facts to fit in with the assumptions of ideology, that is an equally great danger I submit the highest superstition and the basis superstition, both partake of the same problem. objections to the scientific mindset come from, as I say, different directions. The common claim made when we talk about science is that science cannot provide us with values for that. We have to go to Religion and they will then quote out of context, a humanist and rationalist like us, Einstein, who talked about religion without signs being lame, and signs without religion being blind, not for once did they ask the question, What did Einstein mean by religion? When Einstein talked about religion, he was not talking about a religion, which you would identify Hinduism, Christianity, Islam or traditional Judaism as he was not talking about that at all.
As to the question of values, if you look at, look at the method of science, the rigorous method of science which is open for examination and challenge, by an The one and which is ready to correct itself, whenever shown to be wrong. Whatever one might say about science, can one not see the value there in science, the value of honesty that science is proposing in its method. When proven wrong, science has the modesty to say that is wrong. Let me find out what the actual facts are. Let me refine my instrument. Let me examine my equation. Let me repeat the experiment. There is in finite honesty in the method of science. Have you found one religious person who has ever said I am wrong Have you ever found in the record of organized religions? One religious person who said I don’t know. They know all the answers and their answers our final science knows to ask which questions to pose and has the method to find out whether our assumptions about something are correct or not. If we should gather more information to update our knowledge and our conclusions, with mn ROI, we would say truth is the content of knowledge. And the content of knowledge keeps changing depending on The verifiable facts that are in our knowledge of possession. Can there be something more spiritual than this pursuit of truth? Or can they be anything more creative than science? We are told very often that art is very different from science. Art creates. What does science do then? It creates not just a painting or a sculpture. It creates civilization, the fruits of which we partake.
Science is the creator. Knowledge is the creator of our world today, despite all the negative tendencies that there are The Defenders of science need not feel obliged to answer frivolous objections like this. Science is a deeply spiritual for those who like that word, enterprise. It is about understanding where we are in our universe. It is about having an idea about our origins. And our origins are in nature, not in God. science tells us the limits of our freedom. Usually those limits are set, not by the revelation of some Prophet, or in a book. Those are revealed in the laws of the universe, which we try to understand Again going with them Android, who wrote that magnificent essay, the rhythm of the cosmos, where he’s talking about the biological basis of our rationality.
That is what we celebrate. When we celebrate science. That is what we promote. When we promote science. It is not simply a fight with the homeopaths, it is not simply a quarrel with the numerologist or getting triumphant about astrology. The promoters of science are promoting new values for a new civilization, which we all deserve. One which will support the principles and the values of the Democratic life of respect for others of the recognition of the ego Quality of all of us in the value we have as humans and understanding of the universe, and of course, lie hunting. But lie hunting is not how we should define the scientific mindset. The scientific mindset should be defined, both in theory and in practice, by us being able to keep our conclusions open to challenge by anyone. That is exciting news. that perhaps Einstein might be wrong. If you said what Jesus said is wrong or false, you will have a court case against you. If you say what Einstein is wrong, you will have the scientific community excited about that possibility.
That we can have a different understanding about the universe, that we have a different concept of the physical limits of the universe, which is what Einstein’s special theory of relativity proponents for us, two different mindsets, the religious mindset, in which is also the ideological mindset. Then the open minded democratic humanists, rationalist, scientific, lifestyle and thinking style.
We are now increasingly challenged to put forward our understanding of the world to the people out there, because that can be the only basis on which India can become a modern country. Not to forget once again, this is a Country. Ours is a country where the shadow of the moon can still scare people. I’m not sure how it is in Kerala today. But 2012 December is considered by today a huge number of people in central India and North India to be when the world and civilization will end. Because the Mayan calendar ends on that day.
Hollywood might be exporting superstition or simply entertainment. But people who are not able to distinguish between fact and fiction are receiving this. And there are huge debates by people because the Mayans do not have a calendar which does not go beyond the 22nd of December in May Doctor coming had announced in the US the end of the earth great disasters and the coming of Jesus. That did not happen. When he was confronted he said small mistake, it will happen three years later. But Jesus has been announcing his coming 363 times so far in the last 2000 years every time they got the date wrong.
Still as income when I said in the TV discussion that VIERA Brahmin the SWAMI who was alive 400 odd years ago, could not possibly be alive today. 400 years after, was reputed to be alive.
I had terrenas and the petition against me. There were calls for my arrest. Because I said that Veera Brahmin the SWAMI is most likely dead, because he was living 400 years ago. This is the absurd country that we are living in. I told you I started off by saying, what happened to the science popularizers, who were organizing this meeting, to have a communal lunch to celebrate a celestial event. Once a year, 365 days, we celebrate New Year. A solar eclipse of this kind in a particular place can take dozens of years to happen. Sometimes it’s once in a lifetime. Can we not celebrate it in public by having a communal dinner or lunch? And yet, that meeting was destroyed. And do you know who was arrested?
It was our colleague because He heard the religious sentiments of people. It did not become a formal arrest, because there was a lot of argument discussion in the police station. And the Commissioner of Police let our colleague go. In my case, as I said to you, there was petitions in the Human Rights Commission, because I had hurt the constitutionally protected sentiments of the affected people. Because somebody they prayed to, I have dared to say died. That is a situation we are in, which is really why a meeting like this becomes important. My invitation to you, as I have this great honor of inaugurating Today’s event is not only an invitation, my challenge to you is that we should be able to take them Message of science into the media into the general public by using the popular media. Not simply articles in our own journals, but focused training for people who are willing to face the general public through television, huge numbers of them and who will pick up specific issues. In December there is a lunar eclipse next year in June there is a lunar eclipse as well. In December next year, there is a scare about the the end of the world
I would request invite and challenge you to pick up five or six important issues and build campaigns around them. So that more number of people will start identifying us and with us, as those who promote the approach of common sense Reason, science in public life with these words, thank you for your attention. And I’m so happy that we start the proceedings of today’s meeting. Thank you.