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Science and spirituality:

Some people say science is against spirituality and scientists can’t understand the “inner worlds” of human beings and so that they cannot have harmony between inner and outer worlds. Far from it! I feel these words are said by people who don’t have first hand experience in science and even if they have, they don't know how to walk on the spiritual path science lays before them. I want to remove this false perception about science with regard to spiritualism and show how science can fulfill ones' spiritual quests.

What is spirituality? You can sum up spirituality in this way:
Spiritual journey is actually an inquiry into one's own existence. It is an inquiry into existence and non-existence and the relationship between these two. It is realizing true existence. An inquiry has to be open without any fear in mind about the ability or outcome. So being fearless is the first step in the path of realization. We are always under the influence of some or other fear. The fear is an outcome of either illusion or weakness to understand and tackle the situation. Illusion can be overcome by acquiring knowledge while weakness can be overcome by acquiring strength. Fearlessness is prerequisite as well as an outcome of spiritual quest. For this to happen, you have to be emotionally neutral. First you should not get associated with anything mentally and should be able to analyze everything rationally. That is what science tells us to do!
There are two types of reasoning:
(1) the one that is attached to emotions and beliefs
(2) the one that is detached and neutral
An example: You have a very young daughter whom you love more than your life. If one day she behaves very badly during a party, you try to understand with your loving mind and think that as she is still a child she doesn’t know how to behave properly and she would definitely learn things when she grows up and excuse her! Here your love for her shaped up your behaviour! As an unemotional person I would say that even if the child is young, she has to be taught how to behave in a public place with a mild warning after understanding her innocence so that she doesn’t repeat it and help her correct herself.
Likewise if you are attached to a belief, it fogs your reasoning power out of fear, hope, love or respect and affects your behaviour. A mind that is agitated by belief can never be free and therefore never know truth.
During the earlier times people saw lives with pains and sorrows. They wanted some kind of theory which could explain all this. Therefore, they thought about explanations and theories which gradually led into beliefs. These beliefs, which were influenced by the times they lived in i.e., non-scientific reasoning, were products of constant fear of the unknown. Instead of taking on the fear head on and finding permanent solutions, they just escaped into the world of false beliefs that gave them temporary relief. In a world where people clutch at all kinds of straws to make some sense of the madness around them, truth can never be found. Instead of analyzing, examining and understanding why something happens and how it should be handled, they tried shortcuts by bringing unknown and untested factors to interpret things! These beliefs divided people because each person had a different set of experiences and those in turn influenced their explanations and the resultant beliefs based on their mental makeup and situations and not on one truth. That is how different  beliefs - both religious and non-religious - originated.

To avoid such pitfalls science asks us not to get attached to emotions and beliefs. It tells us to have an unattached reasoning power so that your mind can seek truth in a neutral manner.
For instance, if scientists say all properties and events in the physical universe are governed by laws, and those laws are true at every time and place in the universe, that again becomes a belief. As an example consider this: we know life here on our planet. We know the needs and necessities for the life to originate and sustain on Earth. But in some other galaxy, there is every chance of life originating in different conditions and therefore has different set of needs to come into existence and continue (Ref 1)! Therefore science asks us to be open to such uncertainties and prepare and correct ourselves to face them as and when new data and information arrives.
Contrary to the popular prejudice that science has an answer for everything, science has built into its process that no answer should be considered certain and final -- that we must rely on the best knowledge of the moment but also embrace the uncertainty that it may be provisional. Scientists always think that theirs’ is a work in progress!


Science doesn't actually claim to know all the truth. It works hard by getting closer and closer to the truth, but of course science learns by its mistakes and advances by disproving hypotheses and getting things wrong. One of the virtues of science is that it is prepared to change its mind as and when the evidence warrants it. Science is not religion and therefore need not be afraid to say 'we do not know ... yet'. Scientists know that all scientific knowledge is conditional, dependent on repeated questioning, testing and confirmation.

Public sharing is an important part of science. No scientist will ever say - 'Oh, it's true for me, it may not be true for you' or 'Because I believe in this, this is the truth". There will be only one fact given that the conditions in which it is searched, observed and perceived are the same. But again a fact here need not be a fact somewhere else in the universe. Science is in pursuit of  these facts and the conditions in which  these facts evolve so that we can give  a meaningful definition to our existence.
The fundamental principles of science say we need to understand the world in all its complexities. Observing, experimenting and interpreting real phenomena are essential steps towards comprehending the world around us.

Any rational approach requires some distance between science and ideology.
Humans have to see their lives in some sort of importance, and it is this that provides shape and meaning, whether acknowledged or not and in the absence of a dependable narrative, scientists try to fill the space with science, which they think is closer to truth than any other belief.

All of us are subject to the psychological forces at play when it comes to choosing between facts and beliefs when they do not mesh. In the long run, it is better to understand the way the world really is rather than how we would like it to be.
The path of evolutionary enlightenment is one of ego-transcendence that is a means to a higher end, to open up some space within the self – space for evolution to occur. Being inspired by the idea of conscious evolution is one thing, while actually engaging in the process of evolution is something else altogether. But within themselves people are not free. They are trapped in psychological hang-ups and attachments, with little or no space for that which is new. Their souls are not liberated, and their choices and actions are still being shaped by unconscious adherence to values and perspectives that have nothing to do with being a liberated vessel for the evolution of consciousness and culture. Merely being inspired by the potential for conscious revolution does not automatically give us access to the fearless inner freedom to actualize that potential. In order to find that freedom, to open up that space for new, it is essential that you liberate yourself to a significant degree from your personal fears and desires and your culturally conditioned values. This inner freedom is not different from the goal of traditional enlightenment where freedom is an end itself. Ideally, freedom becomes the foundation from which to engage in conscious evolution. You must disentangle yourself, free yourself from your deeds, your history, culture that is entangled in beliefs and personal ego.
That empty space or a clean slate will become the ultimate source and wellspring of new awakening thoughts, their evolution which finally leads to enlightenment.

It is with this clean state of mind most of the scientists pursue the path of spiritualism and try to seek truth about our very existence and also tread on the path of self-realization. Haven’t you heard about quantum mechanics that is getting closer to the very existence of human mind and inner selves? All most all the scientists think about God and religion at some time or the other in their lives. Great scientists like Einstein and Hawking mentioned several times about God and Universe in their talks. One scientist even said, our creator, if there is really one, is the greatest scientist in this universe because he created it in a very scientific manner! (Please see the art work I created on this very theme here: http://www.kkartfromscience.com/popup/kk3.html ). Some scientists even say light-heartedly, God is their colleague! Carl Sagan said: Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is profound source of spirituality. When we recognise our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.

However, most of the scientists feel that instead of chasing things that cannot be proved or disproved immediately, it would be better if we concentrate on things that can help living beings and the world. They know if there is really a creator, he will not get influenced by our offerings of bribe for giving us things that might make us happy temporarily or don't get influenced by our emotional blackmail! He will be happy if we help other living beings with the intelligence and courage he gave us!
So, scientists don’t follow religious dogmas blindly but try to understand the world around us in a rational and systematic way. They try to help the world with the knowledge gained in the process. They feel this path started with a clean mind free of all beliefs,  an unbiased mind in search of truth and work that can help the world can lead to spiritual fulfillment in the true sense.
Anyone who knows how a nervous system works during pain processing can do no physical harm to any living being. And anyone who knows how the brain really works at the emotional level will never try to harass another living being. Any person who has seen how the scientific rules are followed universally in a given set of conditions, and understood its beauty can never think in local terms and can never come under the influence of artificially created races, castes, groups, communities or citizenships. He sees all the living beings as his own images - following universal rules of life and as citizens of this universe.
I learned all about human existence, morality, humane nature, universal brotherhood, secularism, tolerance, inner strength and everything a human being should be from science! It gave me answers to several of my questions - including the most testing ones like  - how to be calm in the most trying circumstances, how to have peace of mind when everything around you is falling apart ( Please read my poem based on this here:  http://kkartlab.in/group/theartofwritingpoems/forum/topics/staying-... ). I have faith in science  - not a blind one though as science warns us against any such traps - and my approach is scientific in everything I do { "Believe" is a word that, as a person of science, I use rarely and only with great care. To believe something is to accept it on faith without evidence or logical explanation. This is completely contrary to the scientific method and fundamental principals of science.  I think I trust (the most appropriate word than faith and belief) science more than anything else during the times of stress because it  gave solutions to several of  my problems )}. If you know what science is really about and how to go about in this world scientifically, you really can be a great human being. And that is my experience!
If a scientist still acts in a biased manner despite his scientific background, I feel the person didn’t understand science properly and that he couldn’t overcome his cultural conditioning of mind with his scientific temper!
'Science, far from destroying the beauty and romance of the world as seen by artists, musicians and writers, enhances it by revealing the underlying reasons and purposes' – McConnell .
Yes, science tries to provide all dimensional full pictures of everything in terms of space, time, balance, rhythm and  unity in this universe and their relevance to both inner and outer worlds. It provides true meaning to our very existence.   And the pictures brought forth by science are  very beautiful than the partial ones others see in all aspects of life and  spirituality is no exception!

References:

1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bacteria-discovere...
© 2012 , Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa

Copyright 2012 Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa.

All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: DrKrishnaKumariChalla, Science, spirituality

Views: 684

Replies to This Discussion

A friend of mine, who is  also a scientist, sent me a message after reading this article. The message said:

"The way you put it and the ease with which you put it is amazing, Krishna!"

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46979787/ns/technology_and_science-scie...

684

http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-articles/science-of-spi...

And my reply to this article:

Your argument that "Science on the other hand doesn’t do that; it doesn’t give an inch. The Speaking Tree may have a ‘Science and Spirit’ column but would Scientific American or New Scientist have something similar unless it was to run down faith-based thinking? No way. To lay people, science comes across as far more rigid than religion" seems true. But Science asks for proof - provide it and it will give a lot of its territory to your argument. Several of the scientists in the world - you yourself said that in your article - think about God and religion at some time or the other. I have read in Scientific American some of the writers and bloggers writing about religion! Who says science doesn't accommodate other's feelings? But scientists don't believe anything blindly. It takes a lot more than mere words and emotional arguments for science to accept them.
Eastern religions are more close to scientific way of thinking. That is why people who follow them don't clash with science as much as Westerners do.
Genetic basis for religious beliefs? What rubbish! It Is one of those arguments that takes pseudo-science's help to stand! Epigenetics has opened a can of worms and now people are arguing genes are responsible for everything!
Science is not trying to dislodge religion. It only wants to dislodge baseless beliefs. If some religious dogmas come under this category, scientists can't help it. People have no other go to accept truth in the end if they want to move forward. Argue, fight, make war, but you cannot escape truth! And science is trying to find out these facts and truths.

Science flies you to moon; religion flies you into buildings! - Late Christopher Hitchens

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached.

Simone Weil

Come behold this world, which is like unto an ornamented royal chariot, wherein fools flounder, but for the wise there is no attachment-.Dhammapada

Peace ends when you are emotionally involved in a situation. The practice of being a detached observer helps you stay stable and calm.

Brahma Kumaris

Both rational scientific inquiries and intuitive spiritual quests try to get logical answers to some perennial questions of the human mind - 'Who am I', 'What is the never-changing true nature of the ever-changing universe about which I know through my sense organs', 'What is the relationship between myself and the physical universe in which I stay for some stipulated periods of time'. Science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive.

The day science will find the perfect answer to the phenomenon called illusion that day it will dislodge religion--otherwise never - Anonymous

Science will not try to dislodge religion. Science is a study for betterment of mankind if applied properly. Religion is a way of life ,a daily life with traditions and superstitions.Which are coming along with the civilisations of mankind. Yes, of course some day people are more and more educated and know more about science. Superstitions will reduce even the traditions also may be brought down. But both will go along side by side. - Anonymous

Science and spirituality are complimentary to each other. Your assertion in the article, (extract below) bears testimony that religious beliefs when challenged by scientific researches, were accepted by religion, belatedly.
"Be that as it may, there are still two very important reasons why science will always find it difficult to dislodge religion. The first is, for thousands of years now religion has co-existed with science and more often than not, accommodated it when it hasn’t co-opted it outright. Sure, the Church burnt Giodano Bruno at the stake for saying the Earth was not unique in the universe, arrested Galileo for writing about heliocentrism and vilified Darwin for his evolutionary theory going against the Bible. But in the end — sometimes even centuries later, maybe — it has accepted its mistakes and cleverly incorporated the new ideas."
Science as a discipline with various fields and branches, endeavors to bring,the newer researches towards the integration of science with religion: and not attempting to dislodge the religion.
From classical Newtonian physics to quantum mechanics, the wave particle duality has lead to the concept of probability of occurrence of a certain phenomenon, rather than a certainty. Yuri Orlov , in his paper on "The wave Logic of Consciousness: A Hypothesis", published in international journal of theoretical Physics, vol. 10,no. 40, has argued that quantum indeterminism and superimposed probability states must be playing a role in the brain's openness to all the potentialities latent in Consciousness- for example,our ability to see many possibilities all at once. According to this approach , out of the many possibilities, one version 'pops up' (materializes) as a result of free choice. Thus aphysical concepts ( like Consciousness)are also being brought within the realm of science. The integration process is on, towards new horizons of knowledge. - Anonymous

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness/2012/0...

Religion makes the biggest difference for well-being in places where life is hard, suggesting the belief system, or the camaraderie that accompanies it, provides support when times are tough. But if you are affluent, and things are going well, you may be perfectly happy without this psychological safety net, studies show. Being religious also seems to be most beneficial if you live among mostly religious people, indicating it is way of fitting in socially. In countries where few people believe, the psychological benefits of faith disappear.

So if you are nonbeliever, surround yourself with like-minded people, and work on achieving your goals in other parts of your life (see “The Secrets of Self Improvement,” by Marina Krakovsky, Scientific American Mind, March/April 2012). Having close friends and other forms of psychological support can also boost your well-being. Your social and professional successes will then help you weather life’s ups and downs just as religion does. If you live in the U.S., these accomplishments might even help you withstand the most unrelenting downside of being nonreligious: the feeling of not fitting in.

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