Science and Vedanta

Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me why the skies are blue,
And I will tell you just why I love you.

Because God made the stars to shine,
Because God made the ivy twine,
Because God made the sky so blue,
Because God made you, that’s why I love you.

I really think that dear God above
Created you just for me to love;
He picked you out from all the rest
Because he knew that I’d love you the best.

This is an old kids’ song which I picked up from a book. What a sweet song this is with an innocent and reassuring vision of life! Then comes science and scientists to spoil it all! Or do they? It depends upon one’s perspective and understanding.
I like the song more for its sentiments than for its truths. It serves to preserve the innocence of a kid. We all grow up being fed by such myths. It’s perfectly alright to believe in them until we outgrow the myths. I would definitely love to protect and preserve such myths to be passed on to my children and grand children.

Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher talked about telos which is translated as the final cause. He said the final cause – the cause of all causes – is God.

Consider the following imaginary dialogue between a growing kid and an adult:
Why do you grow vegetables? Because we want to cook? Why do we want to cook? Because we want to eat? Why do we want to eat? Because we feel hungry? Why do we feel hungry? Now the exasperated parent would blurt out: Go, play with your friends and stop putting such stupid questions.

Now look at the whys in the song and the innocent answer God for all those whys. Most of the theologies in the world today would address these whys in a more or less similar fashion. These answers were okay with us when we were kids but as adults we outgrow these answers although we still do not outgrow the questions! We still have to face these questions and find answers which are adequately satisfactory.

Science sidesteps ”telos” and instead focuses on How. While doing so, it will directly come into conflict with all the widespread myths of theologies. For instance, even today, creation science, sponsored by religion, contradicts time-tested Darwin’s theory of evolution.

It’s in this background that one has to understand Vedanta. Vedanta has absolutely no issues with science. In fact Vedantins would rejoice at the discoveries of science. The reasons are not far to seek. It’s because Vedanta and science complement each other. Let us see how.

Science deals with the empirical world and the phenomena. It deals with nature and its laws. It explains how the universe came about, how planets and earth formed. It also talks about origin and evolution of life on earth.

On the other hand, theologies describe how God created everything. The myths differ from one theology to the other. In contrast, Vedanta does not describe creation in the sense understood by theologies. It talks about manifestation. Everything in the universe is a manifestation, according to Vedanta. Manifestation, in contrast to creation, implies that under right conditions, a certain entity comes into being – it could be the universe, the planets, the earth or life on earth.

Let us see the link between science and Vedanta further. Vedanta says that the everything in the universe is Eswara(or God). The laws by which the universe is formed, the order which governs the existence are also Eswara. Even morality, ethics and righteousness(dharma)are also Eswara. Vedanta declares that everything in the world (jagat)is Eswara. Unlike the theologies which separate the creator and the creation, Vedanta states that the creation is the creator. They are non-separate. This understanding of God is unique to Vedanta. It is this uniqueness which makes it easy to coexist with science in perfect harmony.

Science is unravelling the mysteries of nature, which is Eswara. It’s discovering the laws and the order which govern the existence of the universe. These laws and order operate in a predictable manner which makes it possible to study by various scientific disciplines. For instance law of gravity is universal. Vedanta says these laws and the resulting predictable order are Eswara. Thus science helps bring more and more Eswara into one’s life by discovering the objective principles governing everything in the world. One can clearly see the complementarity between the two – science and Vedanta.

Not just that. Study of science can help one develop humility and character. One might think developing character, ethical behaviour and morality are the exclusive domain of Spiritual studies. However, study of science can be a humbling experience too as we will discover in the subsequent pages.

Published on January 17, 2016 at 12:18 pm  Comments Off on Science and Vedanta  
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