Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Narendra Dabholkar - the death of a skeptic

From the New York Times:
For nearly three decades, an earnest man named Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village in India, waging a personal war against the spirit world.

If a holy man had electrified the public with his miracles, Dr. Dabholkar, a former physician, would duplicate the miracles and explain, step by step, how they were performed. If a sorcerer had amassed a fortune treating infertility, he would arrange a sting operation to unmask the man as a fraud. His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs.

That mission ended Tuesday, when two men ran up behind Dr. Dabholkar, 67, as he crossed a bridge, shot him at point-blank range, then jumped onto a motorbike and disappeared into the traffic coursing through this city.

Dr. Dabholkar’s killing is the latest episode in a millenniums-old wrestling match between traditionalists and reformers in India. When detectives began putting together a list of Dr. Dabholkar’s enemies, they found that it was long. He had received threats from Hindu far-right groups, been beaten by followers of angry gurus and challenged by councils upholding archaic caste laws. His home state, Maharashtra, was considering legislation he had promoted for 14 years, banning a list of practices like animal sacrifice, the magical treatment of snake bites and the sale of magic stones.

That wrestling match - between science and superstition, between skeptics and true believers, between evidence-based and faith-based thinking - continues everywhere in the world, but a skeptic doesn't risk his life here in America.

Well, all the more reason to recognize the bravery and the sacrifices of people like Dr. Dabholkar then.

And what do his opponents think?
“Instead of dying of old age, or by surgery, which causes a lot of suffering, the death Mr. Dabholkar got today was a blessing from God,” the leader, a former hypnotherapist now known as His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale, wrote in an editorial in the organization’s publication, Sanatan Prabhat.

'God' had nothing to do with it. Narendra Dabholkar was murdered by human beings.

Funny how 'God' is so impotent he can't do anything by himself, isn't it? Well, maybe that's not so surprising, given that he can't even demonstrate his own existence.


m1nks said...

Was he the man who proved that the 'weeping Madonna' was actually sewerage? Or was that someone else?

India. What a country.

WCG said...

Don't forget that India is also the country of people like Narendra Dabholkar, m1nks. :)