India’s rationalists are on the frontline of the battle between science and superstition. Caspar Melville reports on their fight to debunk ‘holy men’
An Atheist Manifesto:
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. The obvious must be observed and re-observed and argued for. This is a thankless job. It carries with it an aura of petulance and insensitivity. It is, moreover, a job that the atheist does not want.What is science? First, magnetise your wine ...
People often ask me [pulls pensively on pipe] "what is science?" And I reply thusly: science is exactly what we do in this column. We take a claim, and we pull it apart to extract a clear scientific hypothesis, like "homeopathy makes people better faster than placebo" or "the Chemsol lab correctly identifies MRSA"; then we examine the experimental evidence for that hypothesis; and lastly, if there is no evidence, we devise new experiments. Science.