By Pushpa M. Bhargava And Chandana Chakrabarti
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Extra info for Angels, Devils and Science: A Collection of Articles on Scientific Temper
Education and Obscurantism The link between knowledge and obscurantism makes it clear that education must play an important role in ridding society of obscurantist ideas, as one of the primary purposes of education is to impart knowledge. It follows that in a society like ours, which has been primarily obscurantist (and in which the pressures of customs, convention, tradition and religion are such that if one is left to develop from childhood to adulthood without any counteracting influence of knowledge, one is likely to develop obscurantist views), the first ones to be emancipated from the shackles of obscurantism should be the educated.
He would also benefit by energizing and activating any discussion group in the society to which he belongs and thus airing his opinions for discussion. It is better to have an opinion, however wrong, than no opinion at all. The important thing is to give up passive attitudes, and keep one’s mind active. Only in this way can we expect to develop an informed society, which is our only long-range guarantee of a better and more rational life for our people. The scientific or rationalist attitude comes with maturity, but a beginning must be made early.
A vast majority of scientists are prone to hold obscurantist views. They believe more or less blindly in the dogmas of religion, in the teachings of classical philosophy, and in custom, convention, tradition, etc. They accept and propagate all kinds of fads, for example food fads; they are unable to distinguish between legend and history (many university teachers and research workers would be unwilling to accept that Rama, Lakshman, Sita and Krishna, or various incarnations of Vishnu, are legendary figures); they have implicit faith in miracles (they, would consider you a heretic—an undesirable person to associate with—if you said that Jesus Christ or the Buddha could not perform miracles any more than you or I can).