Happy Birthday Dr. Avijit Roy, the "Future man"- The Science Guy

Published on Friday, September 11, 2015

Author: The Science Guy, Canada

Let me start with the epic sci-fi film Interstellar. The climax involves Cooper emerging in a tesseract, which appears as a stream of bookshelves, with portals that look out into Murphy's (Cooper's daughter) bedroom at different times in her life. Cooper realizes that the tesseract and wormhole (that Cooper and others travelled through) were created by humans from the future to enable him to communicate with Murphy through gravity waves. Probably we all can disregard the Interstellar plot here and focus on the term humans from the future or "future human". But thanks to Mr. Christopher Nolan for bringing up the term future human and logically "future human" supposed to be more intelligent than us in terms of information and knowledge. The man I am writing about is a man from future too, definitely more intelligent than most of us in terms of information and knowledge. September 12, is his date of birth and for sure he borne way before of our history of humanity get mature. He does not need any introduction, he is my hero, inspiration, humanist and scientist Dr. Avijit Roy. I am refusing to add "Late" before his name just because may be he is no more with us, but his thinking, philosophy, work everything is with us. Let me describe the story of how I bumped in to his work.

I read Mr. Prabir Ghosh's book "Aloukik noi Loukik" when I was in grade 7 or 8. That was the first time I have interacted with book of rational thinking and logic. I collected other volumes and finish reading it with thrill. The book talked about process of scientific thinking a bit and why one should be asking questions, but the major focus was on Mr. Ghosh unmasking fraudulent of local religious leaders with examples and busting myths of general people. As a reader I was getting really interested on the scientific thinking and rationality. I started to look for other books. All I was getting is philosophical books of Mr. Aroj Ali Matobbor and Dr. Humayun Azad. I started to read these people and got really impressed by the magnitude of their thinking. But still science was not enough for me. By then I am a student of science group of grade 9 not only because science would get me to be a doctor or engineer (typical Bangladeshi student's and parent's target) but nurturing the thought sowed by Mr. Ghosh's book. I still had the thirst to learn more about scientific thought process behind everything. But I was not getting any book to solve my puzzle. I used to go to public library a lot, unlike the boys of my age. I read Mr. Motahar Hossain "Sovyota" and a lot of detective stories, specially "Sherlock Holmes" and "FeluDA". I thought in Bengali probably there is no chance of finding a rational book which talk about scientific evidence and facts. I decided to go to bookshop and look for translated books of such kind if there is any. I barely had the money to purchase a new book but the curious mind driven me there. I asked the shop keeper about a scientific book, all he shown me is text books of S.S.C and H.S.C. I explained, I am not looking for text books, then he showed me a section and I got over there. As I expected a lot of translation book can be found there but one book drew my attention. I picked it up as title was interesting (Alo Hate Choliyache Ondhokarer Jatri), not a translated book, turned the page, read through first page and boy I was excited. I saw the name of the author, Mr. Avijit Roy; initially whom I thought to be a person from West Bengal, India. But he was not from India as the author information described and that did surprise me. Problem was I did not have the money to buy the book right away. I was so excited, but at the same time was sad that I do not have the money. I knew I would probably not sleep well before I get the book. For a short period I decided to steal the book but acted against it. I remained patient, helpless and thirsty for couple of weeks and lend some money from a friend to purchase it. It took me around 10-12 hours to finish the book and immediately I felt really great and so impressed with the writing. It is inexplicable, after so long I got what I was looking for and become instant fan of Mr. Roy. I told my father, who used to go to Dhaka a lot to get contact information of Dr. Roy and if possible I wanted to meet him. My father was happy to see my enthusiasm on science and when I said about Mr. Roy he agreed to take me. After a while my father took me with him to Banglabazar, Dhaka to take information about the author. A publication company told us that Mr. Roy went out of Bangladesh to do his Ph.D. I could not manage to get any kind of contact information of Mr. Roy. But he was writing over the years and I was reading his writing with pleasure. After few years I got connected with him through facebook. I always planned to write him in a message that he was a big help for me to understand atheism, humanism scientifically and philosophically. I was a huge fan already before he accepted me as a facebook friend. He was the source of light in social media as well. I noticed on social media, he has huge influence on our generation, he was like root on which the whole plant body was relying and depending for food and water. The branches got spread and become strout plant part. He was making sure whole freethinkers community of Bangladesh are safe, comfortable and tied in one piece. The administrative ability of the man bewildered me. I chatted with him first when four atheist bloggers were put in prison for their writing. I came to know his organized method of protest. Dr. Avijit Roy used to post on different subject matter and kept all of us providing new knowledge's. Unlike a lot of other scientist he was aware of the philosophy of non-believing in super power. As a literature writer he was more than fantastic. But I think the biggest thing about Dr. Avijit Roy is his humanity, he was a great humanitarian and never ever hesitate to speak against any kind of bigotry, discrimination. One small example could be his facebook status about NC Chapel Hill event on February 11, 2015 –

"Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of supernatural gods or goddesses. To me, it is a rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief. But being an atheist does not automatically guarantee you to be entirely free from prejudice or hatred, unless you have a genuine feeling for humanity. Whether you are religious or not, the nut cracks are everywhere. History suggests, there were indeed many non-religious heartless autocratic rulers who mercilessly killed numerous countrymen, now we know there is Craig Stephen Hicks too who has a hatred for Muslims. These criminals deserve no sympathy, no excuse. The NC Chapel Hill killings are inhumane, disgusting, gruesome and should be denounced by every human being having a slightest level of conscience. Today my thoughts are with Dea Shaddy Barkat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

At the same time he wrote about bigotry of Saudi Arabia-

What a country! While Raif Badawi is still in prison and being lashed for creating a liberal website, Saudi government released a Islamic preacher who raped his 5 year old daughter.

It probably would need few book to write a fair review of what Dr. Avijit Roy has done. He was the ideal figure to follow in Bangladesh online sphere, where one would easily find everyone is serving political ideology. Dr. Roy was exceptional again in this case, he was not serving any political agenda. He was helping young generation to think and start to question.

To me personally I learnt a lot of thing from him from distance. Few example can be how to be modest and at the same time being strong on views based on empirical evidence. His biggest teaching would be open minded humanitarian which I am trying to be. Never discriminate based on any prejudice, color, religion, region or view. The only time I heard his voice is in a youtube conversation with Mr. Biplab Pal which was uploaded on 2008. From the conversation one would get the impression how Dr. Roy pondered about the concept of freethinking in South Asia and the future of it. It is a worthy conversation if anybody have not heard it yet. Dr. Roy wrote everything in Bengali. He took the initiative to spread the light among the population who are still in dark in terms of knowledge. On that very conversation Mr. Biplab Pal did ask about the science students being more religious and Dr. Roy chuckled and told "science is just a way to earn bread for them. They have never tried to learn how scientific thought process work and apply on their personal sphere. The first step of being scientific mind is to stress on experiments and scientific evidences. Scientific knowledge is obtained through experiments which disallows any knowledge emerged from believe without evidence. I emphasise to build a society of logic where experiment and scrutiny will be prioritized. Religion in country like Bangladesh has political background, government promotes it. With majority of population under poverty line, it is easy to impose believe on population. The scientific learning procedure in Bangladesh has its fault, means the process is not correct. The learning structure is not correct. For example certain Physics teacher in BUET always search science on religious book like Quran, I do call them pseudo-scientist. Surprisingly most of the freethinkers of Bangladesh coming out of Arts background."

But Dr. Avijit Roy changed the scenario a bit. Thanks to him that some guys from science background are also there in freethinking community. Dr. Roy talked about poverty and lack of correct education structure but also stressed keeping religious view out of science classroom. Let's see what really drawing students from BUET, other universities and medical colleges to Islamic fundamentalism. The killers of Ananta Bijoy Das were Shahjalal University students, the same university that gave us Mr. Ananta and Mannan Rahi, his killer. Ironically Mr. Ananta was a student of same building where Mannan would go for his class, the arts building or D-building. I would not be surprised if any BUET students or medical students have done some killing of atheist bloggers. I personally got a threat from a medical student. These folks are so called "educated" and does not have monetary problems at all. So lack of education or money was never problem with these guys. So what really driving those flat-earth believers to kill. I think they were convinced that only Islamic rule or Shariah can give them a corrupt free society. They probably are too tired of corruption!!! And see only Islamic rule can be the solution, no matter that solution could be established through series of violence and murders. To achieve that the first hurdle is to kill atheist. So, it is religious influence in every sphere of society that turning a trained engineer to be a killer. In every university or medical college science is blended with mythical religious stories. I am going to share an example, I asked a lady who is doing her Masters in Mymensingh Agriculture University about evolution and the response from her was,"Dr. Jakir Nayek already proved it wrong and Darwin is nothing but a liar." Who said ignorance cannot take your breath away, it almost blew me away! She was one of the top students on her class, probably a great crammer and very pious lady who has no relation with science except cramming and vomit it on exam paper. The prescription of such ignorance is only true knowledge, which I do not know when these people will get. Dr. Avijit Roy definitely tried with huge effort to inform such misinformed people with scientific facts and evidence.

By analyzing everything, I strongly think Dr. Avijit Roy is the man from the future who build everything for us so we can proceed. He laid the ground for us to stand, he gave a dream to be equal and science and rationality driven society. The current situation of Bangladesh is extremely depressing. It seems like the country is heading back to dark ages. I used to think the "natural selection" have turned us in to a species with supreme intellect. Probably not every one of "Homo sapiens" is on the same boat of evolution. Morphologically we might look as same species, but majority of the inhabitants have not been civilized. As a species we barely came out of cave, barely came out of jungle. With one group of Ape showing their availability of food to others to make other group envy. The increasing amount of food-selfie of our generation is not very different from our ancestor's behaviour and thinking capacity. As a species we have a lot to advance, we have hurdles to get over. Climate change, poverty, terrorism, artificial intelligence and our own lack of knowledge all elements are there. But what Homo sapiens cannot afford is to stay ignorant and keep comforting religion which are based on misinformation and lies. Scientific knowledge can decide our existence on planet earth, whether we kill each other as a species or it is something else like meteorites hit us or we want to go beyond our galaxy and spread humanity in farthest planet. All depends on how many of us are on the right boat of evolution and work as a species. Dr. Avijit Roy wanted more people on correct boat and he worked his entire life for it. He created a "wormhole" of knowledge for us to be on the correct boat and be part of exciting future journey of humanity. I am thankful to him for his all efforts that bringing me on the right boat to confront the frontier of unknown nature with scientific mind. The whole world deserves to know Dr. Avijit Roy, hence my little effort of writing about him. Many happy returns of the day SIR, Happy Birthday Dr. Avijit Roy, the "Future man".

Ending my note with a poem that was used in interstellar dedicated to Dr. Avijit Roy with respect- Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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