Religion and Science

In Hinduism, spirituality is the underpinning to everything, including the universe we experience. The theories of Evolution or the Big Bang sit well with Hindu theology which is in broad agreement with these scientific discoveries. What people discover at the heart of physical science as the quantum phenomenon, talks of a non-material underpinning to the universe. Neuroscience struggles with the concept of consciousness, the resolution may lie in equating it with the spirit rather than a brain function.

Hinduism recognises that social and psychological aspects will colour the way people view or approach ideas of spirituality. It is inevitable that our mental make-up and social background will colour the way we relate to abstract concepts of spirituality. Nevertheless Hinduism insists that religions are not social or psychological inventions or ploys but discoveries that reflect the nature of reality.

Scientists such as Paul Dirac or Einstein or Neils Bohr knew that what we call the scientific enterprise has a long way to progress. The ability humans possess to make sense of the world was seen by them as the most mysterious phenomenon. Science that does not take into account the contribution of humans’ inherent powers of comprehension in their world view can never succeed in producing a coherent theory of everything. Scientists who are humbled by their discoveries, quite often feel comfortable with the broader ideas of spirituality.

Religious teachings infringing on the integrity of scientific discoveries risk losing their credibility. When religious teachings challenge theories of evolution or Big Bang in favour of creation theories, they risk being viewed as irrational and irrelevant. An ability to interpret some religious narratives as allegorical is necessary to ensure that all other religious teachings do not get automatically rejected.

Wittgenstein recognised the contextual nature of language (including religious language) and allowed for a variety of different world-views to coexist, all existing in their own self-contained worlds. This was unfortunate because it allowed religious teachings to claim immunity from rational inquiry. This has resulted in a schizophrenic world. When one thinks of religions one has to switch off one’s scientific world view and vice versa. This state of affairs can no longer be put aside under the guise of ‘variation of linguistic interpretation.’

Both science and religion attempt to discover the underlying nature of reality but have different starting points, one empirical, the other spiritual. However, because both disciplines are working towards the same discovery, it is only natural that the two should eventually coalesce. Hence people find the discovery in modern physics that the world is essentially not made of matter but of something which is non-material. This ties in with the teachings about Brahman in Hinduism. People find the difficulty the biological sciences have in pinning down the nature of consciousness, and find it is defined as Atman in ancient Hindu teachings.

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