A Statement on Modern Science


In its self-imposed framework of coherence, logical consistency, concordance with carefully observed and meticulous measured data and critical policing of ideas by a body of experts, modern science has erected a world-picture that is formidable in its predictive and manipulative capacities, unique in its universality and rich in the variety of its fruits.
Science’s epistemology has been challenged, especially by some postmodernists who have not offered a better one for bringing new knowledge and understanding of the natural world. Yet, it cannot be denied that there has not been another collective system of thought in all of human intellectual history where our attempts to grasp the complexity of the natural world has been deeper, more extensive, more fruitful, and even spiritually more fulfilling.
Some critics of science have charged that science is totalizing in its sweep. This criticism is valid only in so far as rational and consistent explanations of natural phenomena are concerned. Take away the scientific mode, and you can have many other fields, from speculative philosophy, mythology, and metaphysics to art, music, and grand poetry, all of which serve different purposes.
But none other has shown itself to be more appropriate than, and as fantastically effective as the methodology of modern science in the explanation of natural phenomen. In this context, therefore, the alleged totalization of science is no more accurate thanthe proposition that love is a totalizing approach when it comes to healthy and happy human relationships.
Some have criticized science as proclaiming absolute truths. This is far from being the case. What science affirms is that its own trans-national and trans-cultural visions are the best consistent pictures of how the world functions on the basis of everything that is currently known.
In contrast to other systems, science recognizes that its truths have the potential, in principle, for improvement, radical change, or even rejection, if and when new information and insights come to the fore.
Another negative comment frequently made about science is that it does not help one decide between right and wrong, just and unjust, nor direct us to the basic virtues of kindness and compassion. All it does is to explain these as natural consequences of the evolutionary process. True, but this is not the goal of science, any more than that the goal of sports is to feed us. Good food does not provide us with the enjoyment that art and music give. Likewise, science is not meant to give us moral guidance.
The misperceptions about science need to be eradicated and the framework of science deserves to be better explained to the public at large. Much effort is being undertaken alone these lines, but not enough, it would appear. It is failure to do this that opens the door to extra-scientific and unscientific nonsense that is sometimes paraded and pandered all over the world in return for paltry satisfactions in the dark when, in fact, science itself, attired in its full glory, can be just as relevant to some of the deepest yearnings of the human spirit and to our intellectual thirst.
Personally, I feel immensely fulfilled when I supplement science with the aesthetic richness of art, literature, and music, as well as the communal cordiality, existential meaningfulness, incentives to care and help fellow humans, and the spiritual peace that most religious frameworks provide.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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