Science and spirituality - A scientific view of Indian Philosophy
by A Rishi
In the former age the earth was a flat, static center of the Universe in popular perception. And man was god's deputy on it. In the latter, the sun is the center of our solar system. In this age science developed at a breakneck speed so much so that within a span of only four centuries the earth is further reduced to a global village; man is found to be a descendant of homo-erectus, the apes who began to walk erect on their hind legs. It freed their forelegs to be used as hands. Literally by standing up we have progressed so much, so fast. But do we know where we are heading ?
Human knowledge, too, can be divided into two distinct fields–the moral and the material handled by social science (philosophy/ religion) and science respectively. All philosophers, except the materialists who deny mind, agree that art, intuition and moral/religious experiences are beyond the scope of reasoning and science. Unfortunately all established religions are still carrying the geo-centric deadwood such as appeasement of god and various myths and allegories about our origin and destination.
Looking closely at this fascinating concept of god we find that philosophy introduced this term as the first cause of the universe for the sake of convenience. Religions adopted it as a symbol for contemplation and meditation. Its deification as a personal boon – granting god was a later dilution. Yet, in spite of their shortcomings, all religions agree on two vital points. First, god or Brahman is unknown and unknowable; second, humans are accountable for their actions. In other words a moral law pervades life. How, when and where we get our reward and punishment is the essential difference among various religions apart from language and rituals. These differences are quite natural as each religion has its origin in a man's moral experience. How he interprets this personal experience is limited by his personality and period. Moreover these interpretations are heavily allegorical and mythological. God is great, too, is an allegory which defies literal interpretation.
Indian philosophy gets the credit for discovering the fact that there can not be a moral law without rebirths or the immortality of soul. The western philosophies and religions fail to explain the great disparities among men. The Indian philosophy, or Darsana to be precise, is neither a speculative philosophy nor a religion based on individual moral experience. But, much like other great religions, it is in deep freeze since long before the advent of the heliocentric age. It needs updating in the light of Darwinism and new cosmology to provide a comprehensive moral philosophy for this age. Let us attempt it, trusting the dictum that novices sometimes succeed where experts fail. The scientific view is that space is infinite in extension meaning its center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere. It houses about ten billion galaxies by present estimate rushing away from each other, continuously expanding it. Scientists guess that all this expansion must have begun as Stephen Hawking said in A Brief History of Time about ten or twenty billion years ago at the big bang singularity. We are further informed that scientific theories fail at a singularity which is an event involving infinite mass, density, pressure and temperature. The Black Hole is another example of a singularity where everything (matter, light and time) is trapped till eternity. At the microcosm level, too, science, by its own admission, can either measure the position of a particle or its velocity with accuracy. Accuracy in both, position and velocity, taken together is not possible.
Prof. A.N.Whitehead, the eminent mathematician and philosopher of the twentieth century, stated that western philosophy after Plato is merely a footnote to Plato. This greatest of great philosophers believed in reincarnation of human souls and an aim guiding the behavior of living and nonliving things. Prof. Whitehead concurs with Plato and adds that the universe is an organic flux where everything feels everything else in the universe and an event is the sum total of all these feelings at a particular place in space at a particular point in time. But, in spite of their good intentions, these followers of Plato do not arrive at definite conclusions.
Indian philosophy describes the soul in greater detail. "That Atman is universal, all pervading reality is seen from the fact that it pervades as a whole; therefore is infinite in scope, without parts, un-produced, incapable of destruction and, therefore, eternal. The consciousness inheres in atman. The principle of atman reconciles the dogma that every man will reap according to what he sows, even beyond the grave".
The Indian philosophy, much before Plato, accepted the evolution of the soul to be the purpose behind the life and universe. It makes sense if we include all lives and every soul, differing by the level of consciousness alone. And contact with reality enables a soul to enter a higher level of consciousness without body or mate. This world of super conscious souls may be the reality alluded to by philosophers and mystics.
The twenty-first century science is now capable of shedding some light on the operation of a moral law through rebirths. The soul is supposed to animate the body while modern biology is in the dark about how cell-differentiation takes place. Could it be the handiwork of the soul? Science can now search for the genetic signature of the soul and herald the era of moral science.
Read more musings and thoughts of the author at www.godless-spirituality.com
Subject: your articles - 11 December 2008
It is too good but not realistic.RVr
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