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Sci Vis Vol 13 Issue No 4 October-December 2013 ISSN (print) 0975-6175 ISSN (online) 2229-6026

Are we sapiens (wise) yet?

The beginning of wisdom is the question, the end of wisdom is acceptance. ~ A.C. Graylings The Good Book 4:2 Bible thumpers would obviously love to read this in disdain and dissent (or I reckon, not give further glance at all, if they get my drift). For it is written in Proverbs, definitely somewhere there about, that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. And that we do dissent. History and philosophy of science teach us that fear is a barricade to wisdom, and that wisdom is achieved in overcoming fear of anything, on earth or in ethereal realm. We now know a great deal about nature and its workings, and they are simply mind boggling. Our perception of the reality of nature itself is compounded by the complexity (but not irreducible) of our central nervous system, in short, brain. It is vividly clear from the founding fathers of modern science from Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, and all other unholy bunch of rebels whom we love to call scientists, that the glory of science starts with doubts and questions our own mind, not submission to bliss of ignorance, and definitely not to fear and trepidation of all sorts of supernatural beings. But we must concede that mankind has embraced thousands of these ethereal figures, claiming to be all sorts of almighty and powerful beings. Our forefather worshipped and pay homage to every conceivable majestic objects in the universe, from the Sun, the Moon, stars, eclipses, lightning, thunder, storm, and the kind. These were the gods of the past. Scientific thinking has powerfully evicted them from their superstitious realms, and are now just a part of nature which we can understand perfectly in ordinary scientific terms. We laugh at people who still cling to the old beliefs the old rugged cross, as their emotion may better apprehend. Take for an example, it would be quite reasonable for our ancestors to fathom that the kind of natural events (such as in pages 200-211) are the formidable works of deities or their punishment to evil deeds of humans. But we no longer succumb to those unrealistic imaginations. We find it perfectly acceptable, as scientists tell us, that it is simply nature at its works, and nothing more. It is utterly groundless to invoke Poseidon or Neptune (not the planet, but the Roman god) to cause the geological events. Again look at diseases for another example, such as AIDS in pages 191-199. It will hardly amaze us if ancient people would call such affliction as the curse from gods. In fact it would be ridiculously amazing if any human thought that such disease was causes by tiny creatures like HIV, or anything remotely close to the description of virus. For them the only measure of remedy would be to appease gods with offerings and sacrifices. For us it would be disgraceful, because we have drugs that control these parasites, or even cure many diseases. Here my point is straightforward. While our most treasured fantasies, fears and hopes, are generally based on imaginary objects and superstitious things, they are not in any way truly helpful or useful. We have a reality check system which we call science that ignores all the possibilities of fictitious beliefs. Fear suppresses reason the very foundation of science and all the rest that might follow. Fear of anything is not, and cannot be the beginning of wisdom.

K. Lalchhandama


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