- nietzsche

Since the dawn of civilized living, a trend has been continuing.   The core  trend remains the same, but the adoption of strategic approach differs as per the prevailing environment in the society and the mental stability of the masses.   The trend remains  thus; whenever progressive ideas applicable for popular adherence arise, the oppressive forces which are traditional, conservative, particularly advantageous to their oppressive deeds, would try to ignore.

Their agenda would be not to publicize the progressive measures so that it would vanish away or becomes less significant from the attention of the majority of the masses in course of time.  Despite their ignoring tactics, such progressive matter may flourish.   Under such circumstances, the inimical forces would oppose the progressive steps from all spheres.   

Overcoming such opposition, the progressive act may proliferate in wider sphere.  At that stage, the cunning forces would fabricate or belittle such progressive measures. Whatever aforesaid, applicable to progressive or reformative measures are equally applicable for scientific discoveries and inventions.

The peculiar oppression against such scientific advancement would arise from scientific fraternity itself.    If such scientific achievement exposes the features in the religious texts and beliefs which are contrary to the actual existence, religious authorities have opposed such achievements and the achievers ruthlessly.

Earth was considered as the centre of universe.  Geo centric theory was in vogue based on the mere belief on religious texts.  When Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543), a Polish scientist and astronomer proposed that the Sun and other planets do not revolve around the earth, it changed the then prevailing perception about the universe.   Fellow scientists confounded Copernicus’s theory as ‘patently absurd’.   

The religious authorities tortured Copernicus mercilessly and he was buried unceremoniously after death with scant respect for exposing the truth.   

When Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Italian scientist who is considered as father of modern science, took Copernician theory and slammed  it down on the table to the world to see.   

He was able to prove the helio centric theory (Sun – centred universe) with the help of telescope which he had designed.   He was vehemently attacked by the religious clergies, and imprisoned and tortured inhumanly.  He was forced to sign in a prepared declaration which was in favour of geo centric theory.   He had to leave the jail only after signing against his profound theory.  Galileo was condemned as a heretic by the catholic church.  

He was found guilty heresy and lived out of the rest of his days in house arrest.   

Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the English Mathematician revealed his understanding of the  World which covered everything that moved and everything that did not.  He discovered the gravitational force of the earth.   The theory was founded by Newton.

Edwin Hubble (1889 – 1953), an American astronomer showed how galaxies were flying away from each other, a spectacular proof of Big Bang.

These are the annals in the discovery of facts about the universe and the planets including the earth.    During the course of cosmic scientific journey, the ultimate missing link in the formation of the world in the universe was almost found out. The theory is the Standard Model that describes the fundamental particles and forces of nature. It is profound  and proven facts of the scientists that a piece from the Sun got detached which is termed as Big Bang.

At the time of occurrence of Big Bang, the detached piece which contained fundamental particles did not have any mass. Based on  the strength of interaction of these particles with Higgs, they acquired mass. Without the Higgs particle matter in the universe will have no mass. The existence of Higgs is a vital corner stone for describing the universe correctly.

The discovery of the Higgs boson won’t change peoples’ lives. It will facilitate to eliminate the false belief about the universe and earth. In fact the Standard Model theory is a breakthrough in the history of physics. It is rightly comparable to the significance of theory of evolution in biology. When theory of evolution was formulated by Charles Darwin, he was ridiculed, he was considered as demon, who had come to demolish the religious faith and belief that god only created human and other living creatures in the world.  Charles Darwin was condemned to intolerable level. He was issued with his death certificate by the then religious authority while he was alive.

Similarly belittling exercise has started already in respect of the Standard Model and specifically Higgs boson. The sub atomic particle, Higgs boson was named after the scientist Peter Higgs and Satyendra Nath Bose, whose contributions were responsible for the research. The discovery of Higgs boson is a blow to the belief that God only infused force in the living and non living matters in the universe. When the foundation of scientific theory about Higgs boson is popularized through media, it has to go as such. But to undermine its significance, it is flashed as “God particle” What an ironical expression! The hypothesis which came to break down a myth is termed and popularized in the name of the same myth itself!

Fabrication and assimilation of science by the orthodoxy is not a new affair. It started from the day science had begun to develop by weakening the religious belief. The religious belief has to conceal its inability to face the progress of science. The history of human civilization is nothing but the history of breaking the religious beliefs with scientific facts.

To cite a few such instances, when the theory of evolution became popular despite the religious opposition, the Hindu religious believers assimilate the theory by comparing the nine avatars of  God Vishnu starting from fish, pig, animal – man and ultimately   man. To the extent they compared the avatars with theory of evolution. They did not oppose the inhuman dogmas in the religious texts and their practices. Some sort of ‘brand of progressivenes’ is required for them. Similarly when aeroplane was invented, instead of upholding and appreciating the efforts of the twin scientists responsible for it, belittling by saying that aeroplanes are not new; they are already mentioned and were in use in mythology as ‘Pushpa Vimana’.

These approaches, which ridiculed the scientific achievements, are of religious, dogmatic orientation and assimilated the progressive ideas  as of self. The Buddhism was against god and vedic rituals. People were made to believe  Buddha as god by making him as one avatar and many Hindu temple towers are being adorned with idols of Buddha.

Once Buddha got fabricated as god, with the design of dogmatic rituals, it was easy to erase the Buddhism  in ideological manner from the minds of common people. In that way Buddhism was eliminated from its own land. Progressive and reformative ideas had flourished in abundance during the past. Historically it could not be sustained and practised due to the ‘fabricate and eliminate approach’ of the opponents to such ideas.

In respect of Higgs boson, it is really, a breakthrough in nuclear physics. It has blasted out the myth of religious dogmas about the formation of universe. In fact it is a milestone march in the journey to disprove the belief of god and its prescription in the religious texts. How can such scientific achievement be coined as ‘God particle’? Mentioning Higgs boson as God particle is a misnomer, even it could be construed as disrespect shown to such a marvelous discovery.

When the discovery of Higgs boson was announced at CERN by the scientist fraternity, they were actually embarrassed by the media, referring it to ‘god particle’. Even Peter Huggs who first proposed the existence of this  particle is an atheist. He is displeased because the term could offend people who are religious. In one way a scientist fraternity is responsible for the new coinage. Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize winning physicist titled his  book , The God Particle: If the universe is the answer, what is the question? It is hardly  moot  now to say that he had originally called it the ‘Goddamn particle.’ That was edited down because, the fact is Lederman and his publisher wanted to popularize the book.

Basically man has proposed the existence of new particle and its purpose is almost proved scientifically. Hence it is apt to call it Higgs boson in the names of the scientists who founded the theories to find out the scientific discovery. The great rationalist – humanist Periyar E.V.Ramasamy quotes, ‘Forget god: Think of human’ and the strategic approach for the progress of humanity. Let the sub atomic particle be called and popularized it as ‘Higgs boson’.

The discovery of Higgs boson is like discovery of the fact that Earth revolves round the Sun. But scientists predict  the discovery of Higgs boson would enable as to design rockets which can travel with the speed of light. If the discovery of Higgs boson is used constructively it will enhance definitely the revealation of more facts about  the universe, unknown so far.

          
 

A simple book of reason VASUDHA VENUGOPAL

At a time when India’s reputation as a rising technology major is in stark contrast to the millions spent by its people on practices such as astrology, Vaastu and ‘lucky’ stones, a book that aims to examine (the absence of) scientific temper here was perhaps waiting to happen.

Ganesha on the Dashboard, a book by

V. Raghunathan and M.A. Easwaran, sets out to specifically focus on why we as a country continue to lack the tendency to question belief and merely accept conventions because they have social sanction. The title is derived from the authors’ observation that we would rather keep an idol of Ganesha on the car’s dashboard than avoid danger by wearing a seatbelt and the book takes aim at the karma theory and fatalism which, according to them, underlie the situation.

The authors’ differentiation of scientific temper — an inclination to accept a hypothesis only after it has been put to meticulous tests — and the applications of science is quite relevant. Scientific temper thus not only has a timeless quality but is also applicable across fields. The authors point out that it is the absence of this tendency that is responsible for superstitions being prevalent so extensively.

Armed with this, Raghunathan and Easwaran take on intra-gothra marriages, astrology, caste and many more issues even as they occasionally go off the tangent by indulging in stories of how the scientific method originated or how astrology might have emerged in ancient times. But they also do the vital and relevant job of marshalling huge amounts of scientific evidence and studies that in a clinical manner, demolish the claims of the proponents of these rituals. The book is at its best when it follows its own suggestion and anticipating every argument, fishes out a study to counter it.

The section about astrology is a good example of such an approach. The refusal of institutions, especially those of higher education, to consistently counter such rituals or ‘miraculous’ godmen is a matter of serious concern. That said, the authors are also keen to distinguish between rituals that “add elegance to life” such as touching an elder’s feet and rituals that tend to bring discord as they do not conform to scientific temper. The distinction, however, seems slightly problematic as it views social practices and customs as a set of options from which one can pick and choose without examining the social context which lends equal sanctity to all of them.

RELIGIONS AND SCIENCE

The authors also spend a considerable amount of time examining various religions and their impact on science. A glance at Hinduism takes the reader through the origins of the religion and ends with establishing it as a fundamentally tolerant, although scarred by increasing amounts of rituals and the caste system. Christianity and Islam too are examined and while the authors think the rather precise pronouncements on various theories by Christian clergy led to the religion being fundamentally at loggerheads with science, Islam for them, is free of that fault. Hinduism’s fluid nature, they say, allows practising Hindus to be critical and they even visualise injecting rationality into Hinduisim in order to increase the scientific temper in its followers.

The authors then hope for a convergence of religions that will lead to a more evolved religion that places total faith in human efforts and is not passive or fatalistic. However whether this vision comes across as a bit unrealistic when one views the history of organised religion is a question worth asking. Similarly, the extent to which caste system, which the authors term the “only outrage” in Hinduism, was responsible for lack of scientific temper in society is also worth exploring more. Although the authors make considerable efforts towards convincing their audience, which is clearly the urban middle class, of the need for scientific temper, in certain parts, however, the book comes across as a primer of generalisations and slightly simplistic comparisons.

For instance, the comparison of an offering-driven god to a tribal chieftain or a local MLA.

While this is an excellent introductory book to the issue at hand, those who have come across such subjects before may be distracted by the meditations on religion and spirituality and the extended stories and wish for the more critical approach that the recent spree of atheistic literature and popular science books employ towards rituals, superstitions and religion.

GANESHA ON THE DASHBOARD:

V. Raghunathan, M.A. Eswaran; Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11, Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,New Delhi-110017. Rs. 299.

Keywords: astrology

Courtesy : ‘The Hindu’, May 29, 2012.
 

‘A Celebration of Reason’ 2012 Global Atheist Convention- Opening Address by David Nicholls

Global Atheist Convention is public expression of Atheism in an outstanding manner

The 2012 Global Atheist Convention was held at Melbourne, Australia from 13th to 15th April, 2012. The opening address delivered by Mr.David Nicholls is given below:

Good evening, my name is David Nicholls and I am the President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia which is hosting this wonderful event. Before we commence proceedings allow me to say a few words about the death of Christopher Hitchens.

It was no secret that Christopher was gambling with time when accepting our invitation to join us this weekend. Very unfortunately, as you know, ‘Hitch’ lost this wager.

Atheists, Freethinkers and the enemies of reason alike will remember the day Christopher Hitchens died, as being one where a gigantic intellect ceased mortal existence.

Christopher Hitchens died with friends at his side at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Thursday 15th December. His death brings to a close a lifetime of lucid verbal and prolific written war against the forces of darkness that have plauged humanity for all of society.

His epic input will one day be the stuff of legend.

Christopher was both the most well-known popular and unpopular champion for atheism the world has ever seen. His instant responses using clear and balanced argument brought joy to admirers. The same quickness of reply to convoluted ideas left many an opponent deflated and speech-less.

The life of Christo-pher Hitchens was inspirational to Freethinkers the world over. The inspiration will continue in his absence. Ideas do not die.

We are all deeply saddened by the death of one of our greatest exponents of rational thought. However, we can take some solace in the fact that Christopher’s inexpugnably powerful presence will share centre stage in our fondest thoughts over the next three days.

April 13, 2012 would have been Hitchens’ sixty-third birthday.

Goodby Christopher – We will miss you …

Greetings and welcome to the 2012 Global Atheist Convention – ‘A Celebration of Reason.’ It is with great pleasure that I warmly welcome all the overseas and local presenters and performers, the numerous volunteers and the ever-helpful, friendly and efficient Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre staff.

The exuberant Kylie Strugess, from The  Token Skeptic, has once again graciously agreed to be our MC, in partnership with Lawrence Leung, writer and comedian extraordinaire.

I would especially like to welcome the President of Atheist Alliance International, Tanya Smith. Tanya was a key co-ordinator on the previous convention committee. Atheist Alliance International is doing a fantastic and worthwhile job across the globe and is deserving of our support.

I am delighted to extend a sincere thanks to the Victorial Government and the City of Melbourne Council for financially recognising the importance of this occasion.

The commercially confidential amount of that sponsorship is not relevant but what is pertinent is that for the first time in the history of the planet a secular state government and its capital city has treated a convention of Atheists no different than any other similar event.

The Federal Government was not so forthcoming, but we are working on them.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia has been operating since 1970 and before that as the Rationalist Society of South Australia. Members at that time  considered a name change was needed to reflect a common feeling. That commonality was Atheism and thus was born the Atheist Foundation  of Australia.

The organisation was presided over by John Campbell for the first five years and then by Keith Cornish, with wife Brenda as Treasurer, an essential ingredient, for the next thirty.

At this time Atheism was in a state of invisibility in the public arena. Keith, ever the optimist, pushed on regardless, writing hundreds of letters to newspapers making submissions to government inquiries where religion interfered with the polity and forever attempted to bring Atheism into the consciousness of the population.

Suddenly the internet arrived. Keith asked my partner Lee, as she used this strange new medium, the internet, if she would make a website for the AFA. Keith was from the old school and  didn’t quite understand that there is a vast gap of knowledge between sending emails and making a website.

Nevertheless, Lee took up the challenge and soon the AFA was online. From that initial stage the AFA now boasts running a number of first rate websites.

Kieth was well into his eighties when the Twin Towers atrocity indelibly changed views about the function of religion on the planet. At first Islam was under intense investigation but slowly, and surely all faiths attracted the critical eye of a growing band of authors of note, many who are here this weekend.

The media abruptly began reporting on matters ungodly as they would have it and, rather unexpectedly, a new era critically examining religion was ushered in.

For the last five years of Keith’s wife Lee and I took on an ever increasing role in directing the AFA. Eventually, age caught up with Keith and he resigned. I remember vividly the Committee room scene at that time. “Does anyone present wish to put forward their name for the position of president?” It was pin-dropping quiet.

Knowing that the basic structure of the AFA was in remarkably good shape and having an intimate understanding of its workings I reluctantly said, “yes, I’ll have a go!” whilst kidding myself with the thought, “twelve months, tops!” Anyway, here we are eight years later.

- Bertrand Russell

And where are we at this moment in time? We are celebrating reason, for as Bertrand Russell stated, “to save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true.”

No holy book has promoted reason and no religion has even attempted to do so. In fact, revealed writings depend on the reader suspending reason in preference to believing statements on faith.

We should not be against people suspending reason, after all, it is their life, but we must be totally opposed to suspended reason being forced into the minds of children as a way of thinking. Children grow into voting adults, some become politicians, making laws for everyone.

Teaching young people how to think and not what to think is a prerequisite for a good and equitable civilisation. To avoid furture divisive sectarian societal dysfunction, faith indoctrination supported by secular governments must cease.

Reason has exponentially increased human understanding about medicine, food production, electronics, engineering, transport and population friendly political systems.

It is responsible for bringing us down from the trees and placing people on the moon, where the Earth has for the first time been viewed from a completely new perspective.

Reason has allowed us to work out that the universe is ‘very big indeed’ with black holes comprised of millions of stars, with some stars billions of kilometres in diameter and trillions of planets orbiting others in a others in a cosmos nearly beyond description.

Reason has sent spacecraft from Earth to explore the far reaches of our solar system. It has enabled information about humans and other species to escape purposely into cosmos in a never-ending journey.

Reason has provided the tools to glimpse the smallest particles in huge atom-smashing colliders when brought together at nearly the speed of light. Most profoundly, reason has for a minute part of history, shown a few lucky generations how evolution has shaped everything we see about us.

Reason has brought humanity out of the dark-ages of superstition into the light of authenticated knowledge, based in empirical peer reviewed evidence.

The speakers and entertainers at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention are here to provide various perspectives about the ability of humans to use reason in problem solving, in improving the quality of life, in enhancing happiness and in being kinder to each other and the planet.

And very importantly, they are here to help us focus on having a great time with like-minded people, at this record breaking convention.

Many of you were here Friday night at the last Global Atheist Convention in 2010 and most would admit it was an amazing near-surreal time. Then we were one and a half thousand people, with numbers growing to two and a half thousand on Sunday and now we are four thousand.

One would assume that Governments and religious leaders would take note of this small inconvenience of a visibly growing opposition to theocratic interference in this country and the globe.

One would assume that this overt display of godlessness would reverberate thoroughout Australia and send ripples of hope to the rest of the planet to places where Atheism is a repressed notion.

The impact we are making here will be noticed because the sheer size of this occasion, the shared camaraderie of purpose, and the joy of harmony of thought,  is adding to the cumulative goodness and co-operation that humanity is capable of, and which it is in so desperate a need.

Allow me to take you back momentarily to the Atheist Foundation of Australia and how its modest initial stages have led to this magnificent event.

From its inception with ever expanding incremental change, the AFA is now comprised of a large and proficient Committee of Management whose members are from many parts of Australia, a Public Relations Team with wide-ranging expertise, and the informative and vibrant AFA Forums overseen by our Administrator and Moderators.

We have magazine editors, internet technicians, web designers, membership ste-wards, writers, debaters, proof-readers, Facebook managers, graphic artists and assistance from lawyers, accountants, volunteers, friends, helpers and supporters of all kinds.

What is very important to us here tonight are the 2012 Global Atheist Convention Committee Members, whose dedication and commitment would be very hard to emulate. I genuinely thank them all.

The combination of these groups and inviduals of sixty or so people that I have just mentioned are the driving force of the AFA. They are its engine. They direct, control and manage the largest, most active and well known Atheist organisation in Australia.

It is the amalgamation of their efforts that has produced a public expression of Atheism in such an outstanding manner.

And behind all of this is the AFA’s every growing membership. The allegiance of AFA members, ultimately, is responsible for the success story that is Atheist Foundation of Australia.

This weekend promises to excite deservedly expectant minds with numerous speakers and entertainers delivering a smorgasbord of idea and concepts that will remain with us for a long time to come.

The program is full of marvellous people who are at the forefront of reasoned rhinking in too many fields to mention.

The AFA knows that we will savour with delight to the fullest-amount possible the next three days of the 2012 Global Atheist Convention – ‘A Celebration of Reason’. Thank you and enjoy

(Courtesy: The Australian Atheist – Issue Number 33, May -June 2012)

Polluting the minds of children against free thinking!

By nature, children are born secular and without any feeling or  belief in god. They are being brought up by the parents or guardians in the religious line, which they were branded with by their earlier generation elders. Before becoming adult they are being groomed religiously without any application of mind for which they are fragile very much. The children are caught in the religious net by  falling prey to the thinking that one who believes and practises a religion  is superior  to other religions.

The blooming buds are roasted in the religious pans. Had they  been grown in a non religious environment and nurtured towards positive mind set, they could bring lot many constructive creations for the society and surroundings. Till they attain majority, say 18 years ,  they may be distanced from religious clutches and identities. Religion  need not be made relevant for them until they attain majority. Afterwards they can prefer and profess any religion of their choice, if warranted. At present, for the majority of masses the practice of religion is by imposition and not by subjective or through prudent preference.

The history of human civilization and advancement are nothing but the history of having distanced  religion from the pursuit of people. Many destructive  and inhuman deeds are  resultant effect of religious conflicts as such. Religious harmony is  linguistically oxymoron. Religious harmony can not happen if religious texts become the subject of practice fully. Human advancement could occur only with the non religious fervor of the citizens of every country for which a universal declaration may be proclaimed.

“Religious identity of children till they attain majority, age wise is unlawful.”

The  inertia in the blocking blog i.e. religion prevails deterring human progress . Let it be rolled down through igniting the minds of children with reason by nurturing humanistic sentiments in them  as well as distancing religious fervor.
 

Pleading at UNO for the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils!

Dr.K.Veeramani, President of Dravidar Kazhagam, met Mr. Hitoki Den, the Senior Political Affairs  Officer, Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations on 27th June, 2012 in the Office of the United Nations at New York and discussed for about 50 minutes about various matters.

Dr.K.Veeramani appraised Mr. Hitoki Den about the atrocities continued to be committed on the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and emphasised that there is no alternative to secure the life and security of these common people except through the formation of a separate land of Tamil Eelam for them.

Mr.Hitoki Den is currently a Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Department of Political Affairs of the UN and his areas of expertise include South East Asia (especially Myanmar, Thailand, and Philippines), South Asian and UN-ASEAN relations. He now works as Team Leader for South Asia in DPA’s Asia pacific Division, in which efforts were made to provide political and substantive support for the U.N.’s Mission in Nepal. Previously Mr.Den worked to strengthen UN-ASEAN co-operation in the area of peace and security, which resulted in ASEAN becoming the UN’s observer in 2006. He was a Senior Advisor to the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar from 2001 to 2005, during which, efforts were made to facilitate national reconcilliation and democratization in Myanmar.

He was one of the persons responsible for the normalization of internal peace and democracy in Myanmar. He was instrumental for many positive measures undertaken in Myanmar. The people of Tamil Eelam will get an amicable final solution, only if such officers are sent there.

Dr.K.Veeramani, explained in detail the atrocities being committed continously on these people by the army of Sri Lanka and the lack of freedom of the press to expose any such activities of the army and emphasized that the creation of a separate land for Tamil Eelam people is the only lasting solution for their grievances.

Mr. Den, who is responsible for the South Asia, knows very well all the violent unleashed upon the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Countries like USA, UK etc. who were believing the statement of the Government of Sri Lanka so far that the war waged in Sri Lanka was a war against terrorism, have now come to know and understand the war crimes and crimes of human rights violations committed by Sri Lankan Army.

The Tamil people of Sri Lanka were fighting for the rights of language, race, educational and employment opportunities and in the fight they have given a highest price in the form of their lives, and livelihood.

Dr. K.Veeramani explained about the TESO Movement and requested to help to get freedom for Tamil Eelam on the lines of East Timoor and Kosavo.

Mr.Den said that it depends upon the involvement of the international community and asked Dr.K.Veeramani to make the Government of India to understand, feel and act in this regard. Then only anything can be done by the UN, he said.

Therefore, we, the Tamilians living in whichever part of the globe, will make  the respective country’s government to understand and accept the reality and make them to open their eyes and hearts!