Gauranga Prasad Das:
Hyderabad, June 15: Eminent scientist Richard Dawkins can talk about the ‘God Delusion” but he won’t get much applause from his colleagues in India. For a new study says one in four scientists in India believe firmly that there is a supernatural power up there guiding their destiny. Scientists also strictly follow religious practices and rituals for academic, professional, material and spiritual satisfaction. In all, 50 per cent of the scientists surveyed believe in the efficacy of prayers, as against just 10 per cent of them in the US.
A large number of them believe in Karma, predestination, life after death while others also believe in ghosts and evil spirits. A joint survey by the city-based Centre for Inquiry and the US-based Institute for the Study of Secularism, Society and Culture of Trinity College, revealed facts on the beliefs and religious practices of Indian scientists. As many as 1,100 scientists from 130 research institutions and universities participated in the survey, the first of its kind to be undertaken in India.
According to Mr N. Innaiah of the Centre for Inquiry, 29 per cent of scientists surveyed believed in Karma while 26 per cent felt that there will be life after death. Only 7 per cent believed in ghosts. The survey took about six months and the report was released earlier this week in New York. It points out that Isro scientists usually offered prayers to Lord Balaji in Tirumala for the successful launch of space vehicles. About 60 per cent among those surveyed made it clear that they would refuse to design biological weapons and 8 per cent said they had reservations about genetic engineering and research on stem cells. However, Mr Barry Kosmin of Institute for the Study of Secularism in society and culture was surprised that scientists here research on cows and pigs despite religious taboos.
Article appeared in the Hyderabad (India) daily – Deccan Chronicle on Monday, June 16th, 2008