Science is a unique area of knowledge owing to its precise, testable and self-correcting attributes. It is known as the ultimate justified belief – the certain way of knowing. There is no doubt that the sun gives us life and plants give us oxygen. It is assumed that the facts science gives us are true as they are based on empirical proof and substantial evidence. Through the scientific enquiry we have known today that leprosy has got nothing to do with the sins of one’s previous life Bur is science beyond the periphery of doubt? No, the spirit of doubt is immanent in human nature, and every scientific invention that is based on assumptions comes under the sickle of doubt. Every scientific law was once a hypothesis and it became a law only after it had been tested on the anvil of doubt. Moreover all scientific knowledge is not absolute knowledge; it is rather contingent knowledge. For example as per the claims of a Texan Biologist, Theophilus Painter, in 1923, it was believed that human beings had twenty pair of chromosomes2. His theory was doubted after thirty years when it was established that we have only 23 pair! The claims of the scientists are rendered dumb when it comes to elucidating the creation of life on earth. As per the Panspermia Hypothesis, seeds of life exist all over the universe and it is from there that the seeds or sperms came to the earth to commence life. Some paleontologists doubted this hypothesis on discovering Martian fossils in Antarctica and claimed that the seeds of life came to the earth from Mars through an asteroid. Others exact that amino acids synthesized in the presence of atmospheric gases initiated life on earth. Now whose theory can be called the most genuine, most indubitable? Probably none! Thus even scientific claims can be doubted.
Science contradicts itself; one theory negates the other and the outcome is a better and more accessible scientific fact. The origin of the universe has been a bone of contention among the scientists. Starting in a chronological order, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Einstein doubted their preceding theories as to how the universe was formed. Even Newton’s eternal and flawless laws of motion were doubted by Einstein who replaced Newton’s theory with his “general theory of relativity.” But the spirit of doubt is like a Promethean fire that can tire of nothing but rest. A hundred years after Einstein postulated the general theory of relativity, the dark clouds of doubt are hovering over his theory in that his theory fails to expound a number of equations and issues. In my opinion Bernard Shaw has rightly said,” Ptolemy created a universe that lasted a thousand years. Copernicus created a universe that lasted four hundred years. Einstein has created a universe and I can't tell you how long it will last2”
The knowledge claims in Ethics as an area of knowledge help us differentiate between good and evil; right and wrong; moral and immoral. The field of ethics is opposed to the spirit of scientific enquiry in that ethics come without a proof and without a rulebook. Since my childhood my parents have indoctrinated the tenets of truth in my mind. According to them truth makes us moral, righteous and successful. Is it really so? According to Ralph Emerson “Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.” a BBC report titled ‘Toddlers who lie will do better’ states, “The complex brain processes involved in formulating a lie are an indicator of a child’s early intelligence3.” The instinct of doubt can establish that ethics is a highly opinionated field where what is moral for one may be immoral for the other. For example the ethical codes severely lambast the scientific advances in the sphere of cloning as a sinister practice. According to the moralists man is trying to invert the role of nature by raising clones. But in my opinion cloning is a revolutionary phenomenon-a gift of science- that can satiate the lap of a barren woman with love and happiness.
I belong to India-a country where religion and ethics are the order of the day. I can never forget the cataclysm that befell my motherland on 26-11-2008. It so transpired that a contingent of Islamic terrorists, belonging to Lashkar –E- Taiba, landed on the Indian shore in Mumbai to disseminate their subversive activities. The terrorists brutally massacred the innocent men, women and children in the name if Jihad. After two days of gore and violence, the Indian forces managed to capture a terrorist Amjad Ahmad Kasab alive. It is the irony of the human kind that a number of moralists extended their support to the dreaded terrorist as capital punishment is a sin in their eyes. I ask these so called men of ethics as to the repercussions of giving him a fair court trial and a reprieve. Is not killing one better to save humanity?
To conclude I would like to say that doubt serves as an important tool of knowledge as the more you doubt the deeper the knowledge it provides you with. There are a number of incidents where the power of doubt as a decisive tool is witnessed. In the cricket matches batsmen have been given another chance to play under the benefit of doubt. Doubt is so powerful a tool that even a hardcore criminal can escape under its cover. Doubt is essential to the progress of humanity. It is to be welcomed not feared. If necessity is the mother of invention, doubt is its father.