Science is not infallible. In fact, the basic premise on which science is constructed is on questioning: “Really?”, “Are you sure?” “Where is the proof?”
The onus of explaining a theory and proving it has always been on the person proposing it. And everyone else sits around asking lot of questions. Science by its innate nature questions itself all the time. If a certain practical result is found to contradict a theory, then that theory has to be rejected or modified. And even when a theory seems to work fine for hundreds of years, such as Theory of Gravitation, we still cannot say with 100% confidence that this theory works forever and in all places. There is always a possibility that it may not work in certain places and in certain times. Then we go about enhancing it or confining it or rejecting it or modifying it.
The beauty of Science is that it accepts (at all times) that it does not have answers to all the questions. Since it asks itself lot of questions, it questions others with the same rigor when someone proposes a solution to a practical problem. If you say that a crystalline energy coming from an amulet will heal you of cancer, it will ask you questions, such as ‘How?’ ‘Where is the evidence?’ ‘Did you conduct enough experiments to suggest this?’ ‘Can you explain it to us?’
Science is not good enough to answer all the questions. Though it attempts to answer many questions to the natural phenomenon and is even able to predict the events in certain cases, it has no role to play in the works of art, fiction, mythology, fables, stories, etc. Can someone prove or disprove there is Middle Earth in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? Can someone prove or disprove whether Harry Potter can fly by sitting on his broom? Can someone prove or disprove the existence of Mickey Mouse? Can someone prove or disprove if Hanuman lifted a mountain and flew in the sky?
Science is not good enough to answer these questions because such stories exist in the minds of the people. People are entitled to believe anything if that belief gets them entertained. However, it will start questioning you when you go to court and obstruct construction of a building because you contested it will violate the airspace when Harry Potter flies through that space. Science will ask you a question- ‘Does Harry Potter really exist? Or is he in the minds of people?’
Ram Sethu Episode
During the current episode of Ram Sethu, some people claimed that Rama is real, because he exists in the ‘collective conscience’ of millions of Hindus. So, then Superman should be real because he exists in the minds of millions too. So should Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus.
Nobody wants to question mythology and verify its authenticity just for the sake of hurting your sentiments. However, when some people believe that their Harry Potter is so true that the book written by JK Rowling itself is considered the evidence to prove his existence, then all we ask is, ‘Are you sure?’
Imagine a court scene:
Petitioner: You cannot dredge this Ram Sethu.
ASI: Why not?
Petitioner: Because it is a monument of our ancient heritage.
Petitioner: Yes. It is man-made construction and hence we need to preserve it.
ASI: And can we ask who made it?
Petitioner: Lord Rama made it along with vanar-sena (army of monkeys).
ASI: Well, we don't believe it is man-made. How can you say it is made by Rama? Do you have a proof for that?
Petitioner: Yes. We do. Here is the Ramcharita Manas written by Tulsidas and here is Ramayana written by Valmiki. Right in there, it clearly says that Rama built Ram Sethu using vanar sena.
ASI: Yeah, thank you. But we believe Ramayana is a mythology. It is not historical evidence. This does not prove Rama existed and built a bridge.
Petitioner: No. Lord Rama exists. And we know that. And we know that from these books. In fact, Lord Rama existed 1.75 Million years ago and he built this bridge with vanar sena.
ASI: Sorry, thank you for producing this evidence. But this is not acceptable. As far as we are concerned, from what we know, there is no evidence to suggest Rama ever existed.
The next day newspapers flash the story [emphasis mine]:
The Ramayana may have moved millions since civilisation took root, but for the Centre, Valmiki’s immortal tale of Lord Ram lacks scientific and historical veracity.
"Valmiki Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas admittedly form an important part of ancient Indian literature, but these cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters and occurrences of events depicted therein," the government said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, instantly setting the stage for a political showdown with the Sangh Parivar.
Why question mythology?
No one set out to challenge the mythology. When mythology was confined to movies, to bed-time stories, to go and celebrate festivals, and do fasting, it is all fine. But when those stories are produced as evidences to stop an activity that the government is undertaking, then questions are asked. That’s the only reason why mythology was questioned here.
Some people ask: “Why question belief systems of Hindus alone? Why not Muslims and Christians? Why don’t we ask the authenticity of existence of their religions? Ask if Jesus existed, if Abraham existed?”
The answer is very simple. Normally nobody goes around questioning mythology and belief systems. One questions them only when someone produces these mythologies as evidences to stop certain activity which the government is undertaking.
Suppose if some Christians cite Bible as evidence to stop sending PSLV into space, then ISRO would question the mythology and say, ‘There is no evidence to suggest the angels you are talking about actually exist’.