BY ALI NAQVI –
When you reason you always have to drop your preconceived ideas and must be ready to accept the outcome. Science does not rely on reasoning alone. Most of us, including a majority of educated individuals, are often heard saying “science cannot do this, science has not been able to do that or why can’t science do this, why it has failed to create such and such things etc.” These questions often arise out of our antagonistic attitude to science because it does not say what we like or what we think is right rather what is actually correct and verifiable. It’s also due to the lack of understanding of the scientific method.
Before we discuss the value of scientific method let’s talk about the human psyche first and how it grapples with concepts like science, faith and reasoning. Humans like all other animals depend on their sense perceptions to deal with the problems of existence. We are equipped with five sensory tools namely touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. These five sense devices gather information and send it to the brain for processing. It helped the humans to understand and explore the world around them. This was and still is a precept of knowledge and everything purely physical. There was no room for supernatural or metaphysical speculations.
It is this nature of the physical reality that we always desperately attempt to personify ideas physically. The history of religion is the story of the physical manifestation of a supreme being responsible for creating everything. Through monotheism the creator reached metaphysical omnipotence yet the followers of the monotheistic faiths somehow succeeded in finding a physical entity in one form or the other to establish a tangible connection that holds on to our primeval dependence on sense perception.
People usually perceive science as a ‘person’. Their criticism, antagonism and even hopes are often directed as if to somebody or someone. Science is a method of inquiry that compels us to reason, experiment, evaluate, quantify, examine, test and verify again and again until doubt is stifled. Scientific method is a systematic way of employing the tools of enquiry and learning. People in our part of the world are asking questions like, what science has done to control Coronavirus. Science is a painstakingly long and patient process. We are always ready to benefits from the discoveries and inventions of science than willing to understand what science is all about and how it works.
It took the humans thousands of years to accept the simple fact that the earth revolves around the sun. Greek philosophers who hinted that the earth might not be the center of the universe were looked at with scorn and some of them were persecuted. Copernicus’ heliocentric model was rejected in the 16th century only because it was against the established faith. Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake by Roman Inquisitors for thinking the same and later Galileo’s observations were also not paid heed to and he was imprisoned for life. No faithful of any monotheistic conception came to the rescue of Bruno or Galileo but today they know where to find the proof in favor of Heliocentrism in their own scriptures.
Scientific community is studying, evaluating and researching on COVID-19 to come to grips with the problem. Scientists in different parts of the world have come up with solutions but it will take time to mathematically and experimentally quantify results before taking the cure to the people of the world. Remember science has no claim, no morality and no sense of justice. We humans have a habit of conceiving things in our own image. We did this with the concept of the creator and we cannot stop doing it with the field of science. It always takes brains and effort to understand something. It is easier to simply bow down in the face of mysteries, complexities, terrors and the difficulties of life.
There could not be a better explanation of science or scientific method than what Will Duran described in the 7th volume of The Story of Civilization titled “The Age of Reason Begins”. He wrote “Whatever “logic” might say, science would aspire to accept only what could be quantitatively measured, mathematically expressed, and experimentally proved.”