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Space, Religion and Journalism December 27, 2006

Posted by PagMax in ISRO, religion, science, space, Vatican.

I am finally writing after a LONG time out of my really lazy schedule. Probably my last one for this year and this year ends in 4 days.


Last week Dr. Kasturirangan (former Chairman of ISRO) was appointed as academician in pontifical academy of sciences.

Just for the starters, this academy is part of Vatican (though claims to function independently) and aims at devlopement of scientific research.  Pretty noble idea, however,  here are two issues (not related to each other and not directly related to this news) which popped into my mind

1. Science and Religion

This is probably just a ‘non-issue’ which only I have relating science and religion. 

For some reason, scientific study carried by a religious organization does make me frown for a second. I do not want to use as example those infamous days when Church condemned Galileo’s heliocentric model, to support my point. My Point  is views held by church CAN dominate scientific research as it did in Past. In good or bad way.

Now this is probably the right time for a disclaimer,

Church has since long changed their stand on Galileos’ issue and Pope john II officially expressed regret for it. Also, other than few episodes like ‘Crusades’, and some others  which Da Vinci Code talks about, church has always been responsible for development of art, science and civilization of human being. Wiki does a good job of explaining it here.  Lot of educated and wise people work in this academy from all around the world. I cannot even begin to dare accuse them of being religiously biased.

So I am not saying that I oppose vehemently this kind of research carried by Church. I support scientific research in any form. I just ‘prefer’ not to ‘encourage’ it in religious form.  May be its the snapshopts from ever controversial religious episodes from all around the world which has dragged almost every major religion into bloodbath.

Surely, this academy and this research has nothing to do with those dark side of human being, but how much can you and should you separate religion and science.

Another interesting point is, ISRO made this announcement something like this,

The Holy Fatherwill present Dr Kasturirangan the insignia of his appointment at a solemn pontifical audience sometime in the near future.

I was bit surprised the term ‘Holy Father’ is used as so matter-of-fact. May be its just the title as ‘The Pope’. However, something doesn’t fit in well. What if I do not think of pope as ‘Holy Father’. (I am not saying, I do not. I am just saying IF I do not). Why would Government of India make me read this against my beliefs.

I am pretty sure most of you (if you have survived reading this relatively ‘boring’ topic) would react as ‘whats the big deal?’. May be its not. But since when do we blog about ‘Big Deals’ only! Now the next issue

2. Journalism Standards

Here is the passage from ISRO’s announcement, without linking, citing or footnoting to the actual source

The Pontifical Academy was founded in Rome on August 17, 1603 to promote the progress of mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of epistemological problems relating thereto. The academicians are chosen on the basis of their eminent original scientific studies and of their acknowledged moral personality, without any ethnic or religious discrimination, and are nominated for life by sovereign act of the Holy Father.

Here is from the Academy’s website

The aim of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of epistemological problems related thereto.

Candidates for a seat in the Academy are chosen by the Academy on the basis of their eminent original scientific studies and of their acknowledged moral personality, without any ethnic or religious discrimination, and are appointed for life by sovereign act of the Holy Father

Now I am not very sure if this actually comes under the strict definition of plagiarism or not. Its always a debatable topic. Any views?

Just another argument on plagiarism on youtube. Here Ann Coulter, Republican version of Michael Moore (and rather intensified one), is accused of plagiarism in her books.


Comments are also interesting and gives views from both side. I do not want to embed the video. That’s not really core point of my post. So just use the link.

Another Disclaimer:

I have great respect for ISRO as a scientific organization. Under the given financial constraints, our scientist did one HELL of a job sending so many satellites up there. 

In this post I am just pointing out some of the issues with transmitting information this organization has. It needs to do lot of work on bringing quality on that aspect as well.  May be more people need to take positive interest in it.  May be you and me.



1. planetsk - December 28, 2006

Very thoughtful post. I am still in the process of reading it, however, here’s a quote about religion and science by Einstein:

” Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind “

2. sk - December 28, 2006

The Pope is the “Holy Father”?? Hmmm.

3. parmanu - December 29, 2006

I agree with einstein. But he is referring to more ‘ideal’ form of religion where people actually live in peace.
If u turn the history books, religion has rarely been peaceful. Point I mentioned in my riya sen post as well (of course, u werent thinking religion while reading that post)

“The Pope is the “Holy Father”?? Hmmm.”

So is the claim by Vatican.

4. sk - December 29, 2006

“So is the claim by Vatican.”

Well, they can claim that. The Pope is the Holy Father as far as Catholics are concerned. Maybe not for the rest of us. The statement would have made sense coming from the Vatican church. ISRO probably shouldn’t have used those words. I don’t know.

5. parmanu - December 29, 2006

“The statement would have made sense coming from the Vatican church”
I agree and thats what my point is.
and it DID come from vatican and as I mentioned in the second part,
isro guys just copied some of the description directly from the academy’s website without even citing the source.
In English 101, you would fail for doing this.

I thinik someone from isro needs to see this post.

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