Science and Rationality
A) Science is the knowledge of the material universe. Knowledge and actions of an individual pertaining to the world are called prav?tti. The path towards God, which includes knowledge of God and actions done for God are called niv?itti. God created the entire universe. He alone is the source of both prav?tti and niv?tti. The Veda says "vijñana? yajña? tanute | karma?i tanutepica | vijñana? deva? sarve | brahma jye??hamupasate”. This means, “Science is maintained while doing the fire ritual, yajña, and other rituals. Science is the devas (deities who represent a certain aspect of God). Worship the Lord in the greatest form”. This means that all religious rituals and sacrifices may be observed but they should not contradict the knowledge of science. Science aims at the welfare of the whole universe.
Burning camphor, fume sticks, oil and ghee in lamps and burning the ghee and food in fire in the name of yajña are against the welfare of this universe. The products of combustion from these rituals add to the green house effect and ozone depletion, which are caused by other sources such as automobiles, chemicals and plastics. In the olden days, these sources of pollution were not present. Forests were plentiful and the population was low. Burning of an oil lamp at night was a necessity because there was no electricity. The effect of pollution due to the lamp was very little. But today the sources of pollution have multiplied. Electricity is the main source of energy for lighting. There is really no need for the oil lamp. Therefore burning of oil lamps and several other rituals that are commonly performed in temples and homes are totally unnecessary.
The Vedas do not mention these rituals. Only one ritual was fully described in Vedas, which is the yajña. Yajña is cooking food on fire and offering it to the learned and divine guest called Vaisvanara to appease the fire of his hunger. This fire of hunger is called the vaisvanaragni. This is the actual meaning of yajña. However sometime in the Middle Ages, ignorant people created all the other rituals. Now there is necessity to stop all these unnecessary rituals in the interest of the welfare of humanity. Only demons do penance and sacrifices for selfish benefit at the cost of harming other beings and the ecosystem. Such rituals cannot please the Lord and they have no Vedic sanction.
The Veda is the only authority and any scripture or Sa?sk?tam verse, which contradicts the Veda, should not be accepted. Such rituals are useless even from the point of the selfish devotees since they have no Vedic sanction. Moreover, they harm humanity by leading to environmental problems. When there is no benefit to oneself, and it is not mentioned in the Veda, then why perform such rituals and harm humanity unnecessarily? Is it not utter ignorance and selfishness?
In the Vedic hymn quoted above, scientific knowledge is said to be deva?. (deities) Deva is satvam (the quality pertaining to purity and knowledge). Sattvam is knowledge. Therefore sages, who have mastered spiritual science, are the embodiment of Satvam. These sages also respect physical science since it is also divine knowledge given by the Lord called as prav?tti. Lord Datta desires to reveal the true meaning of the Vedas in the interest of the welfare of humanity, since humanity is in serious trouble due to environmental problems. In the next line of the Vedic hymn, it is said that one should worship God in the highest form. The highest form mentioned, is the human form of the Lord. Worshipping God in His human form (Incarnation) is said to be the highest worship.
A) When energy is condensed, you say that fundamental particles of matter like neutrons, protons and electrons result. These particles differ in their weights due to the difference in the quantities of energy. A crystal of sugar and a fine particle of sugar differ in weights but they have the same quality namely sweet taste. Now the universe is made out of matter. Matter consists of atoms and atoms are different depending on what chemical element it is. Science says that different atoms having different qualities (properties) result due to different arrangements of fundamental particles, which are nothing but the same energy. This assertion, although found to be true, is really quite far-fetched.
An example for the layman will help clarify this point. Suppose we have different arrangements of fine particles of sugar to form a large cube. Will these different arrangements produce different qualities in the cube of sugar? Can you say that one type of arrangement will give a sweet taste and another type of arrangement will give a sour taste? This is not the case. Likewise one cannot say that different arrangements of the fundamental particles, which are quantitatively different condensed entities of the same energy, produce different properties (qualities). Therefore you cannot explain the difference in the qualities of substances based on different arrangements of the fundamental particles in different atoms. The atoms may differ in their weights due to the difference in the number of fundamental particles but that difference cannot account for the different qualities observed. Even bonds between the atoms in different substances are also made of the same energy. So if there is only one energy, which is the basis of the entire physical universe, then how can we explain the endless variety?
The only way to correlate these two observations is by accepting the Lord. Due to the wish of the Lord different arrangements and numbers of fundamental particles which are essentially the same energy, produced different qualities. Therefore the reason for different qualities can be only the different wishes of the Lord and not merely the different arrangements of the fundamental particles which are modifications of the same energy. The Veda agree with this conclusion (eko'ha? bahusyam). Even energy itself is the result of the wish of the Lord. This theory is proved by the miracles displayed by various human incarnations of the Lord. Miracles are phenomena which defy the rules of nature as we know them. They defy science. Everything else in this creation follows the rules of science. This happens due to the will of God. However when the Lord in human form wishes something contrary to the general rules of nature, the rules are broken. Therefore such miracles are the practical proof of the existence of the Lord and that this universe is just the wish of the Lord.
A) The logic of atheists is based on direct perception (pratyak?a prama?a). They believe in the existence of anything only by direct perception. This philosophy is very old and was propagated by the Sage Carvaka. Direct perception is the knowledge acquired through the five sense organs such as something seen with one’s naked eyes. In fact in the ancient science of logic (tarka sastra) all other means of knowledge are based only on direct perception. For example, inference (anumana) is another valid means of knowledge. When you see smoke on a mountain you infer that there must be fire. However you are able to make this inference only because you have previously seen (with your own eyes) the relationship between smoke and fire to be necessarily true. You acquired this prior knowledge through direct perception alone. Similarly other means of knowledge such as comparison, negation and deduction are also based on direct perception. Thus Carvaka’s philosophy forms the basic of the entire field of logic. Without logic there can be no knowledge.
Now it is said that God is beyond logic. This statement must be proved only by perception. Divine miracles performed by the human form of Lord prove that there is a power beyond logic. These miracles are seen by the naked eyes. So they are perceived. The atheists must be prove whether the miracles are actually beyond logic or are simply some cheap magic tricks, which can be explained by science when found out. If they cannot prove, they must accept the existence of super powers which transcend logic. If they do not accept this fact then they would be contradicting their own basis, which is perception. Divine miracles are experienced by a number of devotees and their experiences cannot be contradicted. If their experience is contradicted, then the experiences of the atheists can also be contradicted. Then the atheists would have to prove that the world that they see and experience actually exists. Therefore atheists must be open-minded and should not be conservative. If they are conservative themselves then they have no right to criticize religious conservatism.
The theory of the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita never contradicts perception and therefore the logic of the atheists becomes the basis of the spiritual knowledge. The Lord comes in human form and this human form is perceived by the naked eyes. Even the miracles performed by ordinary individuals and demons establish the existence of super powers which are beyond logic. These people, due to rigorous spiritual practices have acquired these powers from the Lord. Therefore to convince the atheists even the miracles performed by the Lord are not necessary. When they are convinced about the existence of super powers (Maya), which are beyond logic, then the possessor of the super powers, the Lord, who comes down in human form must also be accepted. This form is seen by naked eyes.
Salvation is breaking of the bonds in this world. Money and family members are perceived. Therefore the bonds that one forms with them are also perceived. Since the bonds in this world are perceived, salvation, which is the breaking of these bonds, is also within the realm of perception. Thus salvation (mok?a) must be also be accepted by the atheists. A single bond with the human form of the Lord is called ‘sayujyam’ or 'kaivalyam'. Since the human form of the Lord is perceived, sayujyam or kaivalyam is also perceived and must be accepted by the atheists.
Bliss is derived by the devotee from the divine knowledge given by the human form of the Lord. Therefore Bliss is also true according to atheists. Thus the goal, which is Bliss, the means to please the Lord (sadhana) and the fruit of sadhana (mok?a and kaivalyam) are also perceived. All of them exist in this world itself. The Veda says 'yat sak?at aparok?at', 'pratyagatmana? aik?at' which mean that the Lord in human form is perceived by naked eyes. The Veda also says 'ihacet avedit', which means that everything is true as seen in this world itself. This is called 'jivanmukti', which means attaining the salvation while one is alive and not after death. The salvation after the death cannot be regarded as being true because it cannot be perceived.
Thus if the atheists are a little patient and leave their aggressive and hypercritical nature, they are best fitted for the quest of true spiritual knowledge of the Vedas. In fact Swami Vidyara?ya included the philosophy of Carvaka in his book as one of the logical philosophies (darsanas).
A) Science is the logical analysis of the universe. It relies primarily on one authority (valid means of knowledge) namely direct perception (pratyak?a prama?am). Direct perception includes perception with any of the five senses. Scientists assume that spirituality is averse to a rational analysis and that the spiritual goal and means are not available to direct perception. This is a misconception. Our ancient knowledge of the scriptures recognizes different valid means of knowledge or prama?as (authorities). However they are all based on perception alone. For example, inference is a praman?a. You see smoke on the mountain and you infer that there must be fire. Although at that moment you are not able to see fire, you can infer its presence based on past observations that smoke is always accompanied by fire. Thus prior to making an inference you need direct perception of both fire and smoke and the recognition of an invariable relation between them. Inference is called the anumana prama?a.
Another prama?a or valid means of knowledge is the sabda prama?a or the ‘word prama?a'. Suppose you do not know that smoke is always accompanied by fire. However a very knowledgeable and reliable person says so, then you can take the relation between fire and smoke for granted. Again this prama?a is also based on direct perception since that person has seen smoke to be always accompanied by fire. Not only is the sabda prama?a or the ‘word prama?a' based on direct perception but it is subject to verification by direct perception at any time. If you observe a contradiction between the sabda prama?a and your own perception, you are sure to take your perception to be true.
However since it is not necessary and practical to verify each and every told word, we take some reliable information obtained from another person to be true. There is always the possibility of verifying it at appropriate junctures. Therefore taking the relation between smoke and fire for granted, you can use another prama?a such as inference to infer the presence of fire from a visual perception of smoke. Thus in daily life, we use several combinations of prama?as but perception is always an essential basis of it. Direct perception is the basis of all knowledge.
The scriptures of different religions contain the knowledge of spirituality. They are in the form of words and are the trusted and reliable authority in spirituality. They are the sabda prama?a. They are reliable as they do not contradict experience or perception.
The Vedas (scriptures) classify the prama?as for spiritual knowledge, into four categories.
Sruti: the original scriptures or the Vedas themselves.
Smrti: the commentaries of scholars and sages on the original scriptures. These may be regarded as secondary scriptures.
Yukti: the logical reasoning based on inference, deduction, comparison, and negation.
Anubhava: the experience based on the perception of the items in this world, which may be direct or indirect. Out of these four ways, the fourth way is the final and most powerful. If anything contradicts experience, it is either invalid or it may the result of a misinterpretation of the Sruti, Sm?ti or a flawed yukti (reasoning). Thus the ways of science and spirituality are not separate. The scientific method is the very foundation and framework of the spiritual knowledge of all the scriptures.
A true scientist should always rely on perception as the final means of knowledge. He should not deny experience derived by perception. If he denies, he is not a scientist. The topmost scientists in the world were philosophers and spiritual people. Those scientists traveled along the river of science and reached its very end, which is the ocean of spiritual knowledge. This spiritual knowledge is called philosophy and it pervades all branches of science. Every branch of science gives a PhD as the final degree. The degree of doctor of philosophy would not be given to a scientist if science and philosophy were basically different.
Philosophy is the essence of every branch of knowledge. It is the culmination of each field. It is what is experienced when one reaches the end of any field. Every branch of knowledge (science) is a river while philosophy is the ocean. Similarly, all religions culminate in spiritual knowledge. Spirituality is the ocean while each religion is a river. In spiritual knowledge all religions merge and become one. Spiritual knowledge is the culmination of all knowledge. It is identical with philosophy. Thus science and religion both lose their identity and become one in philosophy or spiritual knowledge.
A scientist who has not reached the end of science but is still traveling in the river of his limited field of science, denies the existence of the ocean. All he perceives is the limiting boundaries of the river of his field of knowledge. Such a river-farer is called an atheist. He neither sees the ocean nor does he see other rivers. Similar is the plight of a follower of a religion. He does not see the ocean of spiritual knowledge. All he sees is the limited river of his own religion. He cannot accept other religions or the ocean of spiritual knowledge in which all religions merge and become one. He is no better than the atheist. He believes that God is of a particular form alone. He tries to impose a limitation on the Limitless One, who created the whole universe. He limits Him to a single form in His Own creation.
A follower of some other religion may believe that God is formless. He thinks that He is the all-pervading cosmic energy. That is a step in the right direction but is still not the truth. They forget that the cosmic energy is also a part of Creation. God is the source of the cosmic energy. The atheistic scientist believes that this creation itself is God in that there is no 'other' entity that created this universe. Each one, in his own way, is far from the truth. None of them really understand who God is. Thus strictly speaking, they are all atheists. All these atheists, be they scientific atheists or religious atheists, will realize the true nature of God only when they reach the end of science or religion.
When a scientific atheist denies the existence of God, he is denying his own premise of validation of a phenomenon by direct perception. The human incarnation of the Lord comes in this world and performs inexplicable miracles. These miracles are perceived by us. How can the atheist then deny the perception of such miracles? Agreed, that the same miracle may be conducted by an alternative means. This alternative means of performing the same effect may be explicable by science. However that still does not deny the first means which achieved the given effect in an inexplicable way.
For example, a brilliant student may score cent percent points in an examination. Another student may score cent percent points on the examination by cheating. Such a false cent percent score cannot deny the genuine score. The result may be the same, but the processes are different. There is a clear-cut difference in the two students. One is a brilliant student while the other is a cheater. A human incarnation of the Lord may perform a miracle such as producing vibhuti or sacred ash spontaneously in His hands. A trickster may also achieve the same result by sleight of hand. He may have previously hidden some ash in a secret pocket in his sleeve or within the grooves of his fingers. The trick of the magician is explicable when discovered, but miracle of the Lord is not. Although the effect is the same in both cases since the miracle of the Lord can be duplicated by a skilled magician, the two processes are not the same.
The same result need not have the same process. If it were, it would deny the fundamentals of science. In nature, we observe that there are several alternative routes to achieving the same effect or result. A chemical compound can be produced in several ways (Hess's Law). Since the final compound obtained is same, does not mean that the chemical reactions and the intermediates in each path are also the same. The same Chennai city can be reached by several ways. The fact that the final destination is the same does not mean that different routes to reach the city do not exist. There are separate routes and one may be better than the other.
Conservative scientists and conservative religious followers are both immature analysts. Their immaturity is that they are still in the river and have not reached to ocean. Mature scientists like Newton, Einstein and Heisenberg, among others, are scientists of the topmost caliber. They traveled down the river till they reached the ocean of philosophy. For them, there is no difference between science and religion; between philosophy and spirituality.
The religious follower travels in one direction on the circumference of spirituality or philosophy. The scientist travels along the circumference of the same circle of philosophy or spirituality in the opposite direction. If both travel far enough, they are bound to meet. When they are halfway in their journey, they appear to be in opposite directions. Thus they often quarrel with each other and cannot seem to agree with each other's viewpoints.
The religious follower says that God is beyond this world and that He is inexplicable. He says that God pervades all over the world. The scientist says that this world itself is the Reality (God). He does not expect another entity other than this world which can be called as God or the Reality. He accepts that the world is largely inexplicable although we can explain a very small part of it. When God is inexplicable, for the scientist, the very characteristic nature of the God becomes inexplicability for him. The religious follower calls the explicable part as Creation and the inexplicable part as God. The existence of an explicable part is agreed upon by both the religious person and the scientist. The existence of an inexplicable part of the world is also accepted by both. This inexplicability is called as God by the religious person while the scientist merely calls is as inexplicable, without assigning any particular name. It is a question of different terminologies. The scientist says that there is wire and heat in a hot wire. The religious person says that fire and the wire co-exist in a hot wire. It is only a difference of words. The scientist calls it heat and the religious person calls it as fire. Fire is nothing but intense heat. Fire possesses heat. The possessor of the property is called as the property by another. This is the inexplicable part in the example. It is inexplicable because it is not tangible. The wire is the explicable part in this example, which is agreed upon by both.
The scientist believes in the independent existence of the inexplicable power as a field of energy. The religious person says that there is a substratum of that field of energy, which is called as God and which, is not perceived so far. The scientist accepts that his knowledge is not final and that he has to go deeper. The religious person goes to this depth and infers the existence of the substratum. He argues that power (energy, field) cannot independently exist and that it needs a possessor. Suppose the sun is not seen due to a cloud that is covering it. It cannot be concluded that the dim light that is transmitted through the cloud has in independent existence. The light does have a source even though it is not seen at present. The scientist makes a tentative conclusion that the light exists independently since he is not able to see the sun. Yet his conclusion is tentative and on further delving into the problem he may see or infer the presence of the sun which is presently hidden from his view. The religious person has already inferred the presence of the sun.
So, there is no cause for a difference or quarrel between a matured religious person and a matured scientist. The inference of the religious person is based on observation (perception) of the explicable part of the world. The scientist does not want to make this inference but wants to have a direct perception of the substratum of energy, if any. Both have not seen the sun. Both accept the perception of light. Both accept that their search and research has not reached the end. At this stage the religious person infers the presence of the sun, whereas the scientist does not agree to make this inference. He leaves the question open and says that the final truth is still to be known and is currently hidden behind the cloud. This cloud is ignorance.
At this point, the human incarnation of the Lord comes as the support for the view of the religious person. He preaches the existence of the substratum; the Source of everything. He demonstrates the existence of this Source of everything (including the explicable and inexplicable parts of the world), by performing miracles. The miracles done by the human incarnation of the Lord constitute the Source (God), using the inexplicable powers to make perceptible effects on the explicable part of the world. If the scientist accepts these miracles as genuine evidence, then the human incarnation definitely becomes the final authority and confirmation of the existence of the possessor of the inexplicable power. If the scientist has the patience to reach to the bottom of this question, he will become a spiritual philosopher. An impatient scientist who has not analyzed deep enough becomes an atheist.