WHAT DO GREAT THINKERS SAY?
I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.
If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.
Lord William Kelvin
The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) // Father of Evolution Theory
In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.
Sir Isaac Newton
God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.
Paul A. M. Dirac
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious.
Sam Harris (1967-) // American neuroscientist
The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.
What is Science?
Since the time of Newton, science has held that all phenomena can be described (at least in principle) in terms of measurable quantities that can be calculated using simple mathematical laws. This premise, which we can call the principle of reductionism, implies that reality is essentially simple and that human beings, through the power of their minds and senses alone, may ultimately be able to fully understand the nature and origin of all phenomena in the universe. Even though the principle of reductionism is certainly unprovable to start with, it has provided the underlying strategy for scientific research, and as scientists have gone from one success to another, their faith in the universal applicability of this principle has grown stronger and stronger.
What Constitutes Science?
For instance, we have learnt in school that a combination of Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules produces water molecules. This is theory unless we perform an experiment in a laboratory to prove this theory. This is called the experimentation phase. This experiment will work in India, in America, or on the moon, Venus or Pluto, provided the governing environmental conditions are favorable. Thus we can say that this phenomenon—of Hydrogen and Oxygen producing water—follows the principle of universality.
You may repeat this experiment once, twice, a ten times, thousand times, a million times, or a two billion thirteen thousand six hundred and seventy five times. The result would always be the same: Oxygen and Hydrogen combine to produce water. Thus we can say this phenomenon passes the test of repeatability too.
Any field of study or system of knowledge is to be accepted as science or to be scientific if these three governing conditions are satisfied by the postulates, laws or rules governing that field or system.
Read more to understand about consistency of modern science and Spirituality as a science.
Is Modern Science consistent?
There are also instances where a discovery or an invention of great scientific significance had initially been pooh-poohed. In 1872, Pierre Pachet, a professor of Physiology at Toulouse said, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” David Sarnoff’s associates, in response to his urging for investment in the radio in the 1920s said, “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
Max Born, another popular Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is quoted in Gerald Holton’s Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought thus: “There is no philosophical high-road in science, with epistemological signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find our way by trial-and-error, building our roads behind us as we proceed. We do not find sign-posts at cross-roads, but our own scouts erect them, to help the rest.”
James Bryant Conant wrote in his Science and Common Sense: “The stumbling way in which even the ablest of the scientists in every generation have had to fight through thickets of erroneous observations, misleading generalizations, inadequate formulations, and unconscious prejudice is rarely appreciated by those who obtain their scientific knowledge from textbooks.”
In The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Karl R. Popper wrote, “I think that we shall have to get accustomed to the idea that we must not look upon science as a ‘body of knowledge’, but rather as a system of hypotheses, or as a system of guesses or anticipations that in principle cannot be justified, but with which we work as long as they stand up to tests, and of which we are never justified in saying that we know they are ‘true’.”
In the words of scientists themselves, empirical modern science is “belief”, involves “trial-and-error”, consists of data that are “erroneous, misleading and inadequate” and is to be looked upon as “a system of guesses”. It doesn’t augur well for science, does it? Thus we can safely conclude that modern empirical science, in the words of its own practitioners is not a systematic and consistent body of knowledge. And for any body of knowledge to qualify to be termed scientific, requires it to be consistent.
Is Spirituality Science?
These literatures not only talk of phenomena like consciousness and the soul that are still unknown to the modern empirical scientists but also describe in incredible detail many of the scientifically observed phenomena. These literatures are historically known to be at least five thousand years old and those, according to modern empiricists, were days way ahead of rational thinking and scientific reasoning. Some such phenomena are covered in great detail under the section “Vedas on Science”.
In the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Shri Krishna, says something that is startling yet revealing. He had been describing some of the laws mentioned in the Vedic scriptures to Arjuna, who was his friend and disciple. During the discourse, the Lord mentions that He had instructed the same knowledge to Vivasvan, the sun god, some millions of years ago. This is more than a certification for the system of knowledge represented by the Vedic literatures being consistent over innumerable ages. This is what can be truly termed as science.
Can Science explain God?
Essentially modern empirical science deals only with observable physical phenomena that are perceivable to our gross senses. Anything that doesn’t fit within this window is discarded and rejected as untruth. How illogical? This unscientific proposition has been reasonably handled under the topic “Four Limitations of the Conditioned Soul”.
Finally a call is submitted under the section “An Open Challenge” to all men and women possessing intelligent rationality to seek out the answers to the basic questions in life by pursuing the path of truth and knowledge. Only an enlightened human society can help save us from the dangers that are looming large over our heads.
THREE EVIDENCES (PRAMANAS)
Means for acquiring Knowledge
Pramana is evidence or proof. The term refers to sources of knowledge that are held to be valid. The three pramanas or the methods of acquiring knowledge can be broadly classified into the following three categories:
• Pratyaksha-pramana (Direct sense perception)
• Anumana-pramana (Theories based on evidence)
• Shabda-pramana (Hearing from a bonafide authority)
Pratyaksha-pramana refers to the process of acquiring knowledge by direct sense perception. Certainly it can be taken as a means of observing the truth, but unfortunately sometimes such perception is also subjected to defects and thus mistakes. Therefore pratyaksha alone is not a very good source of finding the truth.
Here are some prime examples of people who by their own small vision made statements; they would’ve wished that they could take back.
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." — Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM,1943
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" — H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." — Bill Gates, 1981
Anumana means - you see one event and you see another event, and because of your previous experiences of the world, you infer. Okay something like this must have happened in between, therefore this has happened. So this is called Inference. In fact in the inference also, the fire on the hill is inferred by its smoke. But the relationship between the fire and smoke is perceived with the naked eyes only.
Similarly other means of knowledge are also based on the perception only. We find so many scientists all over the world and they are seeing the world and all these different scientists, give different understanding of how life was created, about how the whole creation came about. They all differ in their opinion and each of them claims that "I am right". How can it be possible?
A practical example of Anumana Pramana, or wild speculation, is Darwin's theory that proposes the idea that human beings might have evolved from Apes. Darwin tried to find out how life came into this universe with all his researches, when he couldn't make out, he admitted that he resorted to wild imaginative speculation. This he himself says in the introduction to his book, “The Origin of Species".
Shabda-pramana refers to the process of acquiring knowledge by hearing from a bonafide authority. Out of three kinds of evidences, the shabda-pramana, or the evidences received from the Vedas, are accepted.
Knowledge is received by hearing. It is not experimental. We cannot understand that which is beyond our sense perception by experiment. We cannot understand who our father is by experimental knowledge. One cannot say, “Let me find out who my father is by experiment.” Our father had existed even before we existed, and it would not be possible to understand by experimental knowledge that this or that man is my father. The real authority is the mother; therefore Vedic knowledge has been likened to the mother. Therefore our Vedic injunctions are very supreme evidence.
For example, in India cow dung is accepted as very pure. So in one place of the Vedic injunction you will find that "Any stool of animal is impure." That's a fact. Everyone knows. But in another place it is said, "Exception is given to the cow's stool, cow dung. That is pure." It is so pure that if you apply on some impure place, it becomes pure. That's a fact. In India, still, especially in villages, they mop the floor with cow dung, and it is so nice and so fresh. Now modern science also accepts that cow dung is pure i.e., therapeutic & antiseptic.
FOUR LIMITATIONS OF THE CONDITIONED SOUL
1 IMPERFECT SENSES
Our ears have a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. If we blow a dog?s whistle, we ourselves cannot hear it, although all the street dogs will be able to hear it and will come running. Thus every one of our senses has inherent limitations.
Ex: We have limited vision range, limited between the Infra red rays and UV rays.
Yet we are very proud of our eyes. Often, someone will challenge, "Can you show me God?" But do we have the eyes to see God?
2 TENDENCY TO BE ILLUSIONED
Our senses are limited. Many a times they see some illusion or you hallucinate something. When one takes a pain killer medicine, one thinks in illusion, "I am alright now. My disease is gone". But the pain killer tablet doesn't cure the disease. As the effect of the pain killer comes down, one feels the pain again and observes the same old symptoms of disease, and then one realizes that the medicine has just covered the problem temporarily, like covering an untidy room with a blanket to make it look nice.
3 COMMIT MISTAKES
During the bubonic plague in Europe, scientists found the cause of plague spreading to be the cat. So, the government at once ordered all the cats in the whole country to be caught and killed to avoid the spreading of the epidemic. But within a few days after this the scientists realized their folly and said that the cause of plague was not cats, but rats! But it was too late. Rats started multiplying in large numbers as all cats were wiped out.
4 PROPENSITY TO CHEAT
Ex: Harshad Mehta, who was riding the stock market with no liquid assets to back his artificially inflated market boom.
The Torchlight of civilization
Bhagavad-gita is also known as Gitopanishad. It is the essence of all Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upanishads in Vedic literature. All Vedic knowledge is infallible, and Hindus accept Vedic knowledge to be complete and infallible. But, is this knowledge only meant for the Hindus? Nay, rather it is meant for the entire humanity. The Bhagavad-gita is widely appreciated for its timeless message of morality. It also gives instructions for mankind to lead a principled centric life. The messages contained in the Bhagavad-gita are also present in other scriptures such as The Holy Koran and The Holy Bible, but there are many other instructions found only in Bhagavad-gita.
Proof of the VedasVedic knowledge is not a question of research. Our research work is imperfect because we are researching things with imperfect senses. We have to accept perfect knowledge which comes down, as is stated in Bhagavad-gita, by the disciplic succession - Parampara. We have to receive knowledge from the proper source in disciplic succession beginning with the supreme spiritual master, the Lord Himself, and handed down to a succession of spiritual masters. Vedic knowledge is received from transcendental sources, and the first words were spoken by the Lord Himself.
For example, Bhagavad-gita states, “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”
As far as the soul's existence is concerned, no one can establish his existence experimentally beyond the proof of Shruti, or Vedic wisdom. We have to accept this truth, because there is no other source of understanding the existence of the soul, although it is a fact by perception. There are many things we have to accept solely on grounds of superior authority. No one can deny the existence of his father, based upon the authority of his mother. There is no source of understanding the identity of the father except by the authority of the mother. Similarly, there is no source of understanding the soul except by studying the Vedas. In other words, the soul is inconceivable by human experimental knowledge. The soul is consciousness and conscious—that also is the statement of the Vedas, and we have to accept that.
Origin of the VedasVedic knowledge is not imparted by defective living entities. It was imparted unto the heart of Brahma, the first created living being, and Brahma in his turn disseminated this knowledge to his sons and disciples, as he originally received it from the Lord.
There have been many Sanskrit scholars, who have found it difficult to decipher the meaning of the Vedas. This priceless knowledge, however, can be understood by a different process. As, stated by the Shvetashvatara Upanishads "Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."