Scientists of ISRO should  not have gone to Tirupati temple: It undermines scientific temper, a Fundamental duty, ordained by the Constitution 

chandrayaan scientists tirupati
ISRO Scientist at Tirupati (Photo:IANS)


I review and revise this article: a friend reminded me that a large number of great scientists were also believers! The sadness whenever I see the esteemed ISRO scientists prostrate before the God for their success, it hurts me. And the knowledge that a large number of great scientists are God believers upset me equally. I am reminded by my Psychological counsellor daughter that majority of the human beings have always been so – they follow their God only to the extent that it serves their personal need and purpose! And they use science and technology in the same way, of course without the external reverence they show to God!

We know many people in National labs are called ”scientists” There it is the title of the post/job. Most professors at institutes of higher learning like Universities, IITs go home and observe rituals of a solar eclipse and lunar eclipse, shraddha karmas, belong to this religion and worship Gods of shapes and the shapeless, attire themselves to suit their religion. They teach the theory of evolution- but never believe it. They believe in the “supreme power”. They are never in doubt about God. They believe in vastu and astrology. These are the qualities that differentiate scientists from non-scientists.

I realise after Dr.Babu Rao (IICT), my fiend for years, pointed out, that I forgot the fact that a very large number of great scientists are believers of God. Further, I agree with Dr.Rao, Engineers do not get any special right to believe in GodScience and engineering are both evidence-based and religion is faith-based..The same applies to modern doctors too.

I am however ashamed that a scientist goes to god/temple to seek blessings. I have never done and will never appreciate it. It is unscientific.

Even if all eminent scientists believed in God, I don’t hesitate to say that they were wrong. They were not true to their science.

It is sad even modern science learning-teaching is not devoid of the unscientific mix of science and religion. The recent changes in science syllabus of avoiding the theory of evolution, periodic table are retrograde steps.
They use the words “RIP, May the soul rest in peace” etc. A scientist does not use such expressions.

Most medical doctors are also not scientists. They often say ” we do our best and God only can help. You pray..” they don’t feel any contradiction between their practice and belief in God. They know how a living system works by itself, yet leave it to God. It looks like escapism.

A less- or un-educated person could be a scientist because of his/her rational thinking and life.

I request readers to excuse me for my hurry, driven by my feeling of hurt, every time I read of Our Scientist friends at ISRO going to Tirupati temple and by my passion for the scientific temper. This lack of scientific temper is not what we expect on such an occasion as Chandrayan, a great technological advancement of the Nation.

Science and religion (or certain philosophical beliefs)  have been at loggerheads; still science progressed over time, and a ‘method of science’ was evolved, and that is the key criterion for science. A scripture cannot be corrected while a scientific theory can be with sufficient experimental evidence.

And I apologize also to the editor. We scientists do err, but are ready to correct ourselves, unlike a religious scripture.
About Dr. M. Bapuji Born 1948: Retd. Scientist, CSIR (1973-2002 ), with experience across disciplines. Basically Ph.D in organic chemistry, post doc as DAAD fellow at Technical university, Berlin, he guided six to Ph.D in varied cross disciplinary subjects. Has 6 Patents; transferred 9 technologies to industry, stopped imports of some chemicals by import substitution. Discovered an 80km-long ridge reef off Odisha coast, reported about 140 sponges, corals etc for the first time from this reef, rewriting marine sedentary biology of Orissa coast. Established lab for microbes associated with sedentary fauna. Studied over 1200 microbes from this resource. General Secretary (3 yrs) and President (3 yrs) for All India CSIR Scientific Workers’ Association (SWA) affiliated to the World Federation of Scientific Workers. Worked with People science movement.Worked for 7 years, on fluorosis, as Scientific Adviser, voluntarily , with FMRRC,  Hubli.

Adviser for a period to FRLHT- forum for research and Local Health traditions, now TDU, a deemed University, Bengaluru. Wrote a few articles, particularly on fluorosis, saving Acid attack victims to, a valuable forum for many good causes and various viewpoints.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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