THE HYPOTHESIS IN THE WORLD OF SCIENCE

A scholar has rightly defined scientific theories as ‘mental pictures that explain known laws.’ In the field of science, the body of so-called ‘observed’ facts are not so in the strictest sense of the word: they are simply interpretations of certain observations. Human observation, even when aided by the most sophisticated devices, can never be assumed to be absolutely perfect. All interpretations based on human observation are, therefore, relative, and may change with an improvement in the technique of observation. J.W.N. Sullivan points out in his book, The Limitations of Science, that:

It is evident, even from this brief survey of scientific ideas, that a true scientific theory merely means a successful working hypothesis. It is highly probable that all scientific theories are wrong. Those that we accept are verifiable within our present limits of observation. Truth, then, in science, is a pragmatic affair (p.158).

This notwithstanding, a scientist regards a hypothesis which provides a reasonable explanation for his observed facts as being in no way inferior to other academic facts based on observation. His contention is that his hypothesis is as much a matter of science as observed facts are.

This, ultimately, is tantamount to a belief in the unseen. Belief in the unseen is not qualitatively different, as an intellectual activity, from belief in observed facts. It is not the same thing as ‘blind faith’. It is rather the most appropriate explanation of the observed facts. Just as the corpuscular theory of light propounded by Newton was rejected by twentieth-century scientists because its explanation of the phenomenon of light was found unsatisfactory, we likewise reject the materialistic theory of the universe, because it does not offer a satisfactory explanation for the phenomenon of life and the universe.

The source of our belief in an all-powerful Divinity is exactly the same as that which a scientist takes recourse to for his scientific theories. It is only after making a thorough study of observed facts that we have reached the conclusion that the explanations offered by religion are the ultimate truth—truth of such an order that, since time immemorial, it has remained unaltered. In the light of new observations and experiments, all man-made theories, which were formulated within the last few hundred years are being re-scrutinised, and many, in the process, are being discarded. Religion on the other hand, presents a truth which is becoming more and more clearly manifest with every advance in the field of scientific research. It is supported and testified to by innumerable significant discoveries.

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