There is a huge discussion around scientific temperament in India. A section of intellectuals believes that scientific temperament is declining in the current scenario. They believe that it is happening because some powers are promoting religious dogmas radically. For them, promoting a scientific temperament is a necessity in India. These people give references to Article 51A, Fundamental Duties of Indian citizens, which also include the duty to develop a scientific temper. But, these people will never tell you what exactly scientific temper is. They will never release a single profound document on scientific temperament, which can perhaps define what it means. But, for our convenience, we can assume that it probably is an extension of scientific methods in our daily lives. The problem starts right here. When we use the term ‘scientific method’, it comes with a certain criterion, like seeking a reason and proof for any belief. And where there is ‘scientific method’, there is no space for faith.
Faith and scientific method are incompatible. But, when we question if scientific temper destroys people’s beliefs and takes away their faith, the classical answer is that scientific temperament, in fact, is not against faith but a tool to eradicate all kinds of superstitions from the society. But the question remains, how would you differentiate between faith and superstition. What we might consider superstition, might be faith for someone else. For example, in the valley of Narmada, people worship the river and take a bath in it twice in a month. It is their ritual. And the same people hang lemon and chilly on a thread in front of their houses, they pour milk on Shiv Ling as well. So, can anyone infer which of these is faith and which is superstition? How would you distinguish between the two? The fact is, nobody can. And neither can scientific methods be distinguished from faith and superstition. Ultimately all three can be called superstition, which very dangerous in a country like in India, where religious faith has been deep-rooted since centuries.
Also, scientific methods are not enough by themselves. They do not help us find answers to various questions. They do not guarantee us the truth. They make people’s life dry, they make them sceptical. To live happily on this planet, we need illusions and faith. But scientific temper does not give specs for faith. Imagine a world where everyone practices scientific temper and apply scientific methods in their daily life. This world would just become colourless. For example, problems of free will (free will is an illusion) get support from scientific temper and scientific reasoning. We all know the uncomfortable implication of determinism.
So what I want to say is, that we do not need to make scientific temperament a necessity for our ordinary citizens. We need to promote the understanding of humanity as well. For this, we need better civic education. We need not promote scientific methods, but we need to promote civic values.