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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Science and Spiritual Quest > Section 1 Scientific and Spiritual Paths for Ultimate Reality > PSYCHIC PHENOMENA, CYCLICAL COSMOLOGY, REINCARNATION > 1. Introduction

1. Introduction


Our difficulties in reconciling scientific paradigms with religious claims arise because of two basic reasons. One is that the latter are much more conflicting among themselves than are scientific  paradigms. The other reason is as follows.


Science is of matter, energy and life, about which religion provides little detail.

Religion is of the soul, spirit and spirit worlds, of which Science has no clue.

Religion is of psychic phenomena that Science refuses to take seriously yet.

Religion is of Heaven and Hell, that Science knows not where they might be.


Science on the other hand, is of theory, experiment and reproducibility. Religion is of faith, revelation and subjectivity. Science is of life here and now. Religion is of life before and life hereafter.  Science is for fulfillment of comforts from outside. Religion is for inner peace and adjustment to life's inequities. Science is neutral to ethics and morals. Religion is loaded with do's and don'ts for  our good and bad.Prior to the influence of Islamic scholars from the 7* century CE through the Middle-Ages, the advancement of rational knowledge with its roots in Greece and the Roman  Empire was severely restricted in Europe by the Catholic Church. This was not the case in the East. Here, as in Islam, there were never any religious objections for the pursuit of the Arts and the  Sciences. It is therefore somewhat ironic that recent advances in science and materialism that are becoming more and more global today have evolved in spectacular ways in the West and not  in the East. Most of these occurred after the European Renaissance, the discovery of the Americas and the spread of colonialism amidst numerous wars and battles against the natives of  foreign lands and among the colonial powers themselves.Science today has advanced to the point that it recognizes that multitudes of life forms on our planet Earth react to the environment with  a sense of meaning and self-awareness within the context of similar attributes among other members of their own species and of other species around them. Scientists as human beings are  able to understand the workings of life on Earth and of the Universe at large in more and more comprehensive ways. In so doing, they have been inventing what we call Laws of Nature as aids to  integrate their comprehensions to include larger and larger domains. These laws are often formulated in quantitative mathematical terms. In this context, Jagdish Srivastava's [1] provocative  mathematical model of Reality is a giant step forward to reconcile science with our spiritual quests.


As byproducts of the scientific process, we are able to develop technologies that imitate and exploit the underlying principles of natural phenomena, sometimes more profoundly than found in  Nature itself. Digital cameras, nuclear weapons, MRI machines, the Internet, artificial insemination, plant breeding and cloning are but just a few of these mind boggling technologies. (See Poem  1 in the Annex)The Big-Bang theory is an attempt to trace back the evolution of the universe including our own star the Sun and its planets starting from the minutest particles of physics.  Quantum Mechanics and the two theories of Relativity are central to our understanding in this respect. Physicists today are confident that they will soon come up with a scientific "Theory of  everything," the so-called TOE even if they realize that the entire complex of emotions in life forms is beyond the scope of physical theory. Amit Goswami [2] and Fred Alan Wolf [3] among

others have been attempting to connect quantum mechanics with Vedanta, again with some provocative ideas.


Darwin's theory of evolution is an attempt to trace back the evolution of life on Earth all the way from microbes to Homo Sapiens starting with the appearance of rudimentary life forms, billions of  years ago. With or without its acceptance, spectacular technologies are evolving in Genetics, Medicine and the Neurosciences.


That we are able to do all this with our minds and yet not know what our minds really are and how they are related to our brains and our bodies is the ultimate   mystery   of   life



That we are able to do all this with our minds, without yet knowing what our minds really are, how they are related to our brains and our bodies... is the ultimate mystery of life on Earth.  Furthermore, all our scientific formulations are subject to the paradigms in which they arise. Only a rare scientist like Albert Einstein is able to recognize that the most incomprehensible thing  about Nature is that we are able to comprehend it at all, however minutely. Only a rare scientist like Werner Heisenberg recognizes that knowledge can never mean anything more than the  perception of connections in the manifold (See Poem 2 in the Annex).Two other unresolved issues in science are important in this connection. One is the matter of free will. As Nobel laureate  physicist Charles Townes [4] said, "There is, in fact, no room for free will in present scientific thought, and yet almost every scientist essentially assumes he has it" (See Poem 3 in the Annex).  The other is the question of "I". I cannot be my mind because in that case calling it "my mind" does not make any sense. Even the soul in me - if there is indeed such an entity - cannot be the "I" in  me either. That is because I am calling it "my soul".And that takes us to the heart of the dilemmas of both Science and Religious concepts.