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A Spiritual Hypothesis……

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I was watching the sun rise. It was a rare occasion, not only because it had rained all night causing everything to sparkle golden under the first rays of the sun, but also because I never wake up early on a Sunday morning! It was complete bliss, every leaf was wet and full of life, every stone was washed clean and shimmering, and every little bird and insect somehow seemed to be glad that the sun is finally out again. There were water beads on a spider web, and there were puddles from which sparrows were drinking and bathing. The morning had brought fresh life with it. As I sipped my tea, my thoughts started churning up….Everything happening around me could be perfectly explained by science. Almost everything was perfectly natural, physical, with known and verified theories, but still somehow, the net result of my scientific analysis lacked something huge, it was dry, it lacked the nectar which I was experiencing then and there. Something strong was flowing that morning that my scientific brain could not take into consideration, and it was not Luminiferous Aether. Something was nudging the religious side of me, the spiritual side, to wake up too.…

The morning got me thinking. Science and Religion, the two antipodes of human perception, the two brilliant swords which have been fighting each other for thousands of years for a childish war of claiming authority over the human thought. Why this enmity? Is there really that much difference? Why do both exist at all? Why do they somehow manage to meet up every time, only to quarrel again?
The Isha Upanishad of the Yajurveda begins with the following shlok:
Aum Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnaat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnamevavashishyate

The shlok simply states “if you remove a part from purna or add a part to purna, what remains is still purna”. The Upanishads were written in a time when the human mind was at a much higher plane than today. There were no idols, no thousands of Gods, a lot less rituals and other rubbish. God was simply The One Consciousness, the formless, the unchangeable, the unchanged. The shlok says that since everything is Gods creation, so you can take out from Him, or add to Him, you can totally dissolve into Him, and He will remain Himself. The highest minds are always humble, and so, they modestly gave up trying to define the Almighty, and simply equated him to another unknowable thing they knew, viz., infinity! The shlok is nothing but the first ever description of Infinity!

For centuries, religion has been the inspiration for people to attempt to answer the question arising in them. Religion is the start point. It evokes deep appreciation and respect about the world around us, and that in turn, makes man want to know it in greater detail. Almost all the great scientists have been greatly spiritual during their lifetime, and people like Einstein, Leibniz, Descartes, De Morgan etc. all have been known to be on a high spiritual note. It used to be thought earlier that the entire world can be understood to the smallest fragment, but now, it is increasingly clear through fields like chaos theory, string theory, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in math, relativity etc., that science and math at deepest levels, even though abstract and inexplicable, takes on an artistic and elegant nature, and seems to merge with philosophy, and in some cases, even spirituality.

Science and religion have been at war for thousands of years, particularly in the western world. Religion has been condemning science entirely for its bad side, while forgetting the noble side of science, the very role it plays in everyday life, and its role in propagation of religion through huge engineering feats. Science on the other hand, has been mocking religion, calling it as baseless and not concrete, while forgetting that for 300 years, modern science was fooled by the notion that common sense can never go wrong, until Einstein came with his relativity to show that the world is not as we see it. The entire foundation of worldly mechanics was shattered, only to create something even more mysterious. Religion is a very tricky business, and without knowing when and how, we can suddenly wander off too far away from the real world. Religion needs guidance of science to keep it real and meaningful. True religion doesn’t condemn science entirely, but shepherds it where it goes wrong. True science accepts that religion is flawed, but still it contains vital insights about human psychology and social evolution, and is not to be mocked.

Science was the tool initially devised to protect mankind from the wrath of nature, whereas religion was the tool created to protect mankind from itself. Humans are a unique species, because we have somehow completed a circle…a circle in the cycle of life. We have been gifted with brains which are capable of understanding, analyzing, and even controlling the very elements which have created us. Now, as sci-fi fiction teaches us, with great power, comes great responsibility! The equation E=mc2 which helped Einstein understand the universe and gave the deepest insights into physics, was the equation which led to the development of the atom bomb. This is where science needs religion to maintain its purity. Religion without science is worthless and stupid, and science without religion is dangerous and out of hand. Both need each other to help their sanctity survive. The knot of enmity itself ties both of them together forever.

But is there really a difference between the two? Isn’t science nothing but a religion? After all, below all the boastful claims of accuracy and rigid foundations, science and even mathematics rests on basic axioms which are not provable, but are only known to have been never broken. Quantum Mechanics is still a big question mark, and it is still not compatible with General Relativity. Science rests on huge pillars, but nothing is yet known about the foundation below. It is all just a game of belief. And what is religion but a science? After all, religion is just a set of paths based on certain basic assumptions regarding nature, cause and effect, and human psychology, which are just as unprovable as the basic scientific axioms!

It so happens that science focuses on differentiation of knowledge, and religion focuses on integration, and amidst all the efforts, the true beauty, the beauty of isness of things remains unnoticed. Science or religion alone will give only half the picture, only when they are embraced together without bias, can there be a glimpse of the ultimate Truth, that ‘something’ which neither science nor religion can explain, which is beyond both…..

-Ninad Gadre
-TY Mech

Categories: English Tags: , ,
  1. gantavya
    January 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    A lovely take indeed! Beautifully put, beyond doubt.

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