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Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Role of faith in Science

Role of faith in Science

faith In my last article, we had seen what Krishna’s instructions on the caste system were. And there was an interesting set of comments from Mr. Hari, which prompted me to put up this article together in short notice (I was working on a more elaborate article and had updated LR only yesterday that I was running behind schedule, but looks like this one can fill the gap.)

Let the fireworks begin.

I think we hear this statement almost every day that “In science, everything is empirically verified; so there is no question of dogmatic faith in scientific methodology.”

Let us have a deeper analysis on this claim, shall we?

Here are the fundamental assumptions made by scientists in their attempt to understand the origin and functioning of this universe (and life) in purely physical terms:

1. Every natural law can be explained by mathematical expression.

2. Those expressions are valid everywhere in this universe.

3. The natural laws are simple.

People in general take these for facts because scientists say it is so. But these are just axiomatic principles which have not been proved to be correct. Nor can they be proved easily. These are just part of one approach to explain reality, and the scientists have implicit faith that these are correct. There may be no logical reason to rule out advanced alternative theories that explain the Universe and life as such, but no… many a scientist would insist his/her chosen strategy is the correct one.

Why? The reason for such an over simplified approach is that if they can describe the universe or life in simple equations, they can understand and probably manipulate them! But what if the universe in its current form is the simplest form or if it is irreducibly complex? Either way, this approach fails.

One other major assumption the scientists make is that the physical rules they discover on this earth through lab experiments is valid throughout all space and time. But they do hide nicely behind the fact that obviously no one can go back billions of years in time to see if something the scientists claims to have happened. Nor does anyone have any direct physical evidence from anything other than a limited space in our solar system (and do you want to know how limited it is, just to get an idea of our insignificant position in the universe? Click Here!).

So, believing in any ‘scientific’ theory requires as much faith as is required to believe that the universe is created and maintained by a personal God.

The moment some people read this, they would be gritting their teeth and ready to jump: “How dare you insinuate that science requires faith? It is all backed by experimental evidence, you Taliban!!”

Stand down, soldier. Now, show to me that an experiment has been conducted and has proven the validity of all known physical laws across all time and space… then, maybe, we can have a civil conversation. Without that proof, the element of faith simply reasserts itself.

We people are also to blame. We just believe in whatever our intelligent friends throw on our ears without question. For example… how do you know man really landed on the moon? Where you standing next to Mr. Armstrong? The point is NOT whether man actually landed on moon or not… but what is our means of knowing such an event actually happened? We just take it for granted the reports are true… based on faith.

So, accepting anything as a fact without one experiencing it directly involves the element of faith.

The faith on scientists is strengthened primarily based on the so-called technological advancements that they have been showing off till today. The keywords are “improved standard of living/ life”.

But in doing so, we reject the faithful teachings of ‘spiritual scientists’ like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who have themselves put the essence of the Vedic knowledge to practical implementation and the results of their experiments are well documented and are still verifiable by their followers to this day.

It is a pity that people are ready to accept blindly speculative theories as unshakeable truth, while they are not even willing to take the smallest effort to study and understand the basics of the teachings of anti-material, spiritual scientists.

(I have already mentioned this before, I do it again: Understand this. I do not say science as we have it today is useless. It has its benefits, but only so much as related to material aspects. One of modern scientific thought’s major shortcomings is that many scientists take the attitude called Burden of Proof towards God or any other subtler aspects of science, saying that God or soul does not exist until proved. This attitude is fine towards matters related to gross physical existence, but fails miserably when applied to subtle matters. If you read through my post on Descending Knowledge, you can understand that ‘Yes, it does take faith in the Vedic scriptures to get started in studying them, but just like in the modern scientific method, the faith gets strengthened by the results that the prescribed experiments give’. )

I will conclude with this: Trying to put down the teachings of the Vedas and Vedic scriptures as myths and what not, without understanding the Vedic teachings at least at the basic level, is like trying to comment on a work of Shakespeare without any knowledge of English.

Article written by Ambi.

0 17 December, 2009 Bhagavad Gita-as i learned December 17, 2009

About the author

A techie by profession but spiritual by nature. Ambi writes about the ancient wisdom of our Indian culture in a way the modern generation can easily understand. Oh ya, his comments are as interesting as his posts and his posts always trigger healthy debates.

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