Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reason, Open Discussion, the Da Vinci Code, and Truth

Letter to the Editor, the Hindu – June 15, 2006 (this was not Published)

Reason, Open Discussion, the Da Vinci Code, and Truth

Respected Sir,
We lived in Chennai for 5 years and always read the Hindu. We moved to Hyderabad recently and are still reading it. Now I am Bangalore teaching a course on Ethics to the MA 2nd year students at SAIACS (Southern Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies) as a Visiting Professor and am continuing to read the Hindu.
This is a response to the Editorial, “On Banning the Da Vinci Code” by N. L. Rajah, and the letter to the editor, “’No’ to ban” by E. Sivasankaran, published on 14th June in the Bangalore edition. I definitely agree with all three writers that the demand to ban the movie, The Da Vinci Code and the positive response of some state governments are both not acceptable and appreciable. I join you in appreciating the Supreme Court’s decision not to accept a petition demanding the ban of the movie and this shows that the Apex Court has rightly upheld the “freedom of expression and artistic creativity.” I am saying all this as a Christian and a Philosopher. In fact, I have openly argued for the release of the movie and tried to help as many Christians as possible to understand the rationale – the constitution of India guarantees this and ultimately the Creator God Himself granted this.
I also agree that open and free discussion with respect to each other (not just tolerance, which in my view is negative – saying ‘you are different and are disagreeing with me, but I still tolerate’) knowing that all of us are endowed with rational capacity to analyse, examine, and arrive at our own conclusions. So when I engage some one in discussion, debate, and dialogue I am actually affirming his or her intellectual-rational capacities and thus honoring that person. Moreover, open discussion definitely helps in gaining better, more informed and balanced understanding and on this I agree with N. L. Rajah. Shunning open discussion is undoubtedly is greatest disservices to national and human welfare. It is my hope that the Hindu is courageously committed to encouraging open discussion.
I would like to say in conclusion that if one’s faith is not deep/strong enough (with rational, scientific, evidential evidences supporting it), then it is not the right kind of faith – it is baseless, irrational/anti-rational, and superstitious. Such faith definitely leads to demands that criticism against it should be banned. But the truth is that ‘all faith is not superstitious’ and if any one thinks so, it only shows their ignorance. Our concern in encouraging open discussion should be ‘truth’, for it is truth that should unite us and truth shall triumph ultimately (Satyame Va Jeyathe). None of us should be afraid of truth. Like our ancestors, we should long for, desire, search for truth. For we know that knowledge of truth matters. This means that we should recognize that writing fiction and claiming that it is all based on well-researched facts, as Dan Brown claims in page 1 of the Da Vinci Code, is a contradiction and unethical. We should also boldly let people know that the novel is ridden with historical errors and inaccuracies to ensure that people are not deceived. It is wrong on Dan Brown’s part to peddle fiction as truth. May we all know the truth and enjoy the benefits thereof.
Sudhakar Mondithoka
6-1-69/5, 1st Floor, Saifabad (Lakadikapool), Hyderabad – 500 004
Phone: 040-23231010.

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