So-called “Jathika Chinthana” advocates do not understand the fact that “western” science’s (actually,the term “western science” is misleading since science has depended a lot on Indian and Arabian inventions such as mathematics) openness to change is it’s strong-point and not the weak point.
Take Newtonian theories as an example. Although Newtonian theories fail to approximate the behavior of sub-atomic entities such as electrons, they work for macroscopic objects very well. Newtonian theories give us an approximate picture of reality. Newtonian approximations are there because they are useful for tasks in our life. It should be noted that humankind has developed things such as steam engines and rockets which works on Newtonian approximations.
Newtonian approximations deviate more and more when it comes to the sub-atomic level. Thats why we need quantum physics. It is the nature of science. Day by day, science gets better in its job of approximating the reality. So-called “jathika chinthana” advocates do not seem to understand that.
A knowledge system does not need to be considered “a failure” just because it fails to solve the extremities. It is a success as long as it held true within it’s framework (in the case of newtonian physics, for objects larger than atoms). Even if we apply equations of quantum mechanics to macroscopic objects or special therory of relativity to objects travelling at everyday speeds (that is, when V is very very very less than C), the answer is pretty close to what we get by Newtonian equations.
So, the point is that the mere fact that Newtonian theories fail at some extremities does not mean whole “western” science is bullshit. The very progressive nature of science indicates that science is becoming better at making more reliable approximations of reality.
If we apply the logic of “jathika chinthana” advocates (that is, the argument that a knowledge system is false if it currently cannot account for everything) to our so-called “eastern” knowledge systems such as ayurveda or astrology, then they do fail misrably than “western” science.
For example, Ayurveda can not explain the occurance of a cancer and inner workings of the brain. However, even I am not a “jathika chinthana” promoter, I acknowledge that ayurvedic knowledge must exist as it is practically applicable to cure many illnesses (as in the case of Newtonian physics) although it fails to explain many.
“Western” science has progressed leaps and bounds than its eastern counterparts and it is still progressing. This does not mean that science has explained each and everything in the universe and will do so before the end of the earth. Also, this does not mean that other knowledge systems must vanish from earth.
What happens in the present world is western science combines itself with other knowledge systems, as it is the case when scientists finds a chemical compound responsible for a cure in an ayurvedic plant, extracts it and creates a tablet.
“Jathika chinthana” promoters’ attempts to defame science, and promote what they think as “sinhalabuddhist knowledge” is just a pipe dream. If one wants to promote Sri Lankan knowledge, they must combine those knowledge with popular science and move progressively.
Article by – Nipuna Wanninayake
Edited by – Kumara Sankalpa