Science is a tool by which man can find truth by virtue of experiments and the power of thinking. We know a man is, on the whole, a rational being. They are making their way through the darkness of ignorance with the help of the searchlight of science. On the other hand, superstition is the blind faith of an individual. It may, of course, dissipate into a society or a nation.
In the primitive age, the man was a helpless creature on earth. He was ignorant of the natural forces and the causes behind them. The sun or the rain were then imagined to be gods. When pleased, such gods would use their power for man’s reward, but when angry, they would use it for man’s punishment. The man could not save himself from natural disasters as he did not have the knowledge to understand why these things happened. Today we have learnt the scientific explanations of phenomena that were once used to be dreaded as mysterious. Still, the superstitions remain in some kind or other among our people. We suffer from the blind fear or inhibition of superstitions. The result is that superstitions tend to become a bad habit.
Superstition is maybe the greatest enemy of all kinds of progress. It deprives a man of his power of reasoning and resists any new scientific ideas much as it can. In fact, there is an inherent contradiction between science and superstition. Superstition is the sworn enemy of science. Scientific ideas increase potency only in proportion to its success in the battle against superstition. Superstition is the crooked off-spring of ignorance and, in its turn, tries to honour ignorance as sacred and permanent without any rhyme or reason. So, Bruno, Galileo and Copernicus stood against superstition for facilitating science even at the cost of their lives.
But superstition has not completely lost its force till today. For example, if someone sneezes, or calls us from behind at the time of starting, we lose our self-confidence. An eclipse of the sun is inauspicious to some superstitious people. Even if a house lizard ticks, it is regarded by many as ominous for a journey.
We see that the ignorant village people treat the epidemic of cholera or pox as the blessing of the goddess Shitala. The so-called civilised and elite persons also have some superstitions such as their notion about the odd number of thirteen, a black cat at night etc. Even some teachers of science wear ring with special stones or metals to pacify the planets supposed to be angry with them!
Thus ignorance and weakness of character are, as a whole, the cause, and superstition is the effect. And, if we really mean to eliminate an evil effect, we must direct our attack against the cause from which it springs. If we treat superstition as a disease, science should be regarded as the right medicine to remedy it. This is specifically what science does in the relentless battle against superstition. Of course, here science means not only the bookish knowledge of science but the scientific spirit in its truest sense. And if we really want to be free from superstition, this scientific spirit must go deep within our social system and change our attitude from within.