The spirit of questioning (the fundamentals)

Came across an article on BBC about a speech by Lord May at the Royal Society. An excerpt:

Another danger to the enlightenment of science came from the growing network of fundamentalist and lobby groups in the US that campaigned for creationism to be taught in science classes, he added.

“By their own writings, this group has a much wider agenda which is to replace scientific materialism by something more based on faith,” he said.

He called on scientists to take a more active role in speaking out against so-called “intelligent design” and other threats to modern scientific values.

“The only thing I can see scientists doing is being more energetic as citizens – getting out there and trying to convince people that that’s not a very wise way to behave,” he explained. “That’s no easy recipe.”

It’s difficult to believe; we seem to be having our own versions of persecution of science that Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus were once subjected to.

Fundamentalism by definition opposes any form of deviation from the fundamentals; questioning them is blasphemy. Science on the other hand promotes questioning of fundamentals. I remember a science show “Turning Point” from my childhood days, that ended with the quote “let the spirit of questioning ignite the scientifc temper among us.” Spirit of questioning forms the very basis of scientific temper. Hindering it would only lead us back to fundamentals of darkness.

Diverting funds from “controversial” scientific research, changing school syllabus to conform with religious principles; all indicate that we are moving away from curious enlightenment to bliss of ignorance. This reminds me of a commonly chanted verse from Bŗhadāraņyaka Upanishad:

अस्तो मा सद् गमय |
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ||
मृत्योन् मा अमृतं गमय् |
ॐ शांति शांति शांति ||

asato mā sadgamayā
tamaso mā jyotirgamayā
mŗtyor mā amŗtan gamayā
om shāntiĥ shāntiĥ shāntiĥ.

Which translates as:
Lead us from darkness to the light,
Lead us from knowledge of the unreal to the real,
Lead us from fear of death to knowledge of our immortality.
Let there be Peace, peace and peace.

I hope we continue this eternal quest towards knowledge — enlightenment; from darkness to light. Let the spirit of questioning thrive among us.

(If that verse seems familiar to you, there is a high probability that you heard it in the movie Matrix Revolutions ) (the song Navras))

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