Sunday, March 29, 2009

Response to religion and science

"The reason is very obvious; the basic implementation (followed by people) of a belief is to believe without logic/reason."

I do not agree with the above statement. I strongly believe that every individual in this world will do his actions for his own happiness. He/She will have an strong desire for worldly people and materialistic goods.
Mankind has lot of logic to believe that there is someone who has extreme or supernatural powers who is controlling everything.
This universe is the finest example. We know that the sun, moon and the planets are placed at some exact distance so that their orbits is properly arranged. If the sun were to say for ex: few miles/kms nearer to earth, would any creatures able to survive? If the moon was nearer to earth, would the sea and gravitational force be right enough for creatures to survive? Who is maintaining all these things at the right distance?
There obviously is some power which is doing so, and I call it supernatural power or God.

The next point you said is in earlier days, people believed that earth was flat etc which was disproved. And when someone said earth was round, people with religious faith opposed it. But what about now? Now, people do know that earth is round, still why do most of us believe that supernatural still exists? Should one theory which disproves earth being flat to round make us all believe that there is no supernatural power controlling us all? First there was a small plane, then came a big plane, then came supersonic, then came rocket, then came space shuttle., yet people believe in god, why? My point here is people keep digging deeper and deeper in science, but that should not make us believe that supernatural power does not exists, should it?

Another interesting point you made is about Darwin's theory which speaks about evolution. This theory is amazing which tells us how life begins. But how many of us know that Darwin's theory is very related to our Dashavatara. As per our mythology, the ten avataras of Lord Vishnu are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Bouddha, Kalki
(Quoted from There is an amazing co-incidence between what modern science claims as the path of evolution of species and the 10 avataras of Lord Vishnu!

1. Matsya Avatar - Fish - oceanic creature
2. Kurma Avatar - Tortoise - amphibian
3. Varaha Avatar - Pig - Four legged species
4. Narasimha Avatar - Half lion/half man - Primitive man? Neanderthal man?
5. Vamana Avatar - dwarf - man learns to stand on his feet
6. Parashurama Avatar - axe wielding man - First use of tools, crude weapons
7. Rama Avatar - master archer - one of the best warriors
8. Krishna - master strategist
9. Buddha - renunciation
10. Kalki - destruction of evil - happens when evil has reached its zenith
So science and religion has crossed path here :-)

About Sati and Child marriage -- In earlier days, these were some "practises" that were followed. I know these were terribly wrong. But we all know that hindus were not courageous right from beginning of civilization. Many kings from Arab and Afghan invaded and looted Hindustan so many times, yet we never did anything good to protect ourselves. Probably a great wall of India would have been good, but its not there and we have to accept it. But what I am trying to say is people in India at old times were not courageous and did few things to save their women from being made slaves of powerful people. So they made sati or child marriage. But, these are never prescribed in any of our religious texts. (I am referring to Mahabharata, bhagavadgeeta etc). So this is not a religious belief, but wrong practice that was followed by our ancestors who were coward (this is my personal opinion).

Lets take another example. A child is born from the womb of a mother. In its 5th week, suddenly heart starts beating. Who starts it and why? And one day the heart stops beating. why does it have to stop and not beat forever? Can any doctor or science predict that this person will live exactly for this many days? Can someone say this person will become prime minister as soon as a kid is born? All these things cannot be controlled by any human being or science. So there has to be something more powerful than a man and that's supreme being and we call it god.

My intention to write this is just to say that, I believe that some supernatural power exists and I call it god. Some people do not believe so and its ok for them not to believe. Every individual is different in thinking. Last but not the least, maybe I have deviated from the original topic "Religion and science" here and there. My apologies for that.


Madhukar Hebbar said...

You floored me with your last statement :-) Unfortunately since this is a response to the original. I will stick with the context of original article.

1. Statement about belief - Not sure what you didn't agree with that. The context is "Why didn't people accept some facts instantaneously?" - Because generally people do not want to put effort to understand. They just believe (Because father tells, priest tells, everybody believs, etc. etc.)

E.g. The questions on sun moon you have asked. Lets assume after 30 years, somebody comes with a 100% definition of the force (Gravitational). In that case, How will general people who define it as God's play respond? I think most people will think It is a Blasphemy to talk of some scientific force when it is a Gods act. They loose the knowledge unfortunately.

The article never says do not believe/do believe in supernatural powers. Article is an effort to understand the boundary of Fact and Belief. Article Ends with a Note on importance of "Faith" (I believe you are relating this to supernatural).

Tomorrow (whatever time), if science has all answers to all questions. There will be nothing supernatural (nothing to believe. Everything is understood).

didn't know about avatara eqution. thanks, will read it on free time.

The great thing about Hinduism is there is no religious texts at all. All we have is theories and stories told some great people. We are free to understand/interpret. there is no Force anywhere. But our way of life is different. Society (parents/village/city) had rules to be followed, unfortunately without sense most of times.

The definition is not there today (child-heart beat). But definition will come someday, until people put effort to understand why?. what the article says is, "If we resign to something as God's play. We will not understand when somebody come with a factual definition"

thanks for your thoughts. :-)

Critic said...

Your point is 100% correct and very well taken. If people like Newton, Galileo etc did not think and had accepted defeat that everything is play of god, then we would not have got the instruments we have now. A very valid point to be noted by people who just believe in god and not believe in science at all.
One of the examples that I want to quote is Pope recently said that usage of condoms is prohibited under the church. Not sure how valid this point is because that's one way where AIDS can be controlled. Many people criticized his statements and few other people accepted his statement. But this proves the above point.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

I guess this is the first time we have concurred on a subject :-) Thanks again for a good discussion mate. :-)

If I remember, Churches in Africa were promoting condoms to stop the spread of aids. Whereas, Pope told abstinence is what religion specifies as the solution. And I think he asked the churches to spread that. Giving condoms is a work around or something is what he told I thought. People who countered Pope, said, "He has a old thinking" :-)

I felt Pope was talking something sensible to tackle a problem. trying to solve the root cause through good sexual practices.

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

Science is my religion and vice versa...

What people thought like blind faith earlier now they are discovering reasons or science behind it... What they said as science earlier, they are retracting now...

Both are good and beautiful in their own right... It is individual choice to choose... Of course you can benefit from them if you are honest... otherwise both can turn you into moron...

My two paise worth...

Critic said...

Our consensus are same on the matter that science should not be given a back seat in the name of religion.
But is our acceptance same when it comes to believe that there exists some supernatural power (which I call god)?

Madhukar Hebbar said...

I think it is the same. You call it "Supernatural powers". I call it "Unknown".

You call supernatural power as God.
I define Unknown as "God".

Subjectively we might be thinking different. Objectively both are same.

Critic said...

Superrr..Thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

I have been itching to comment on the two articles by Hebbar and Critic but thanks to my office IT team that only allows me to view and not contribute. Hebbar, you did it again. A venn diagram of religion, spirituality, science, philosophy, sociology and it left me all confused. There are a couple of points I want to make.

Belief and Facts

The core of these two words is they seldom are subjected to change. Thats usually not the case. What is fact today is fiction tomorrow. Science is just 'our understanding of the Truth' and not the real truth. Newton was right for 300 years about something (cant remember what, gravitational force or something) which was disproved by Einstien. There are numerous other examples.

Belief on the other hand is internal to the 'Believer', it seldom changes, hence the word Faith. It is either created or adopted by the believer and dies with him / her (if its not adopted by some one else). This process helps it evolve over time, but seldom is there change to the affect of nullifying itself.

Religion and Science

Like all, I do agree that religion must not be a stumbling block for sience and 'development'. However, we should also take science with a pinch of salt and not allow it to meddle with religion. And how are we going to do that?? Here are some suggestion

1. Dont base religion on physical aspects like shape of the earth, Adam and Eve etc
2. Dont believe everything that 'Sience' says (I am not saying disbelieve everything that Science says)
3. And most importantly our 'Books' - 'Repositories' need to evolve. Religion is focused on History; This happened this day, 'ancient scriptures'. Its time to move on. It took over 300 scholars over 10 years to write the Bible as we know it. God knows how many people and centuries it took to write the Gita. But when has it last been updated. When was the last religous discussion of Hindu scholars that argued and probably changed or even added a verse in the Gita.

Religion needs to evolve not by looking at science but by its own introspection of the current and future societies. The 'Belief' has to be 'Marketed' and 'adopted' willingly by future generations for it to be alive. Else one thing is sure. There might never be a time when we have figured it all out by Science (because our understanding will keep changing) but there is a very good chance that in the not so distant future our 'Belief' will not exist because it was not adopted. It died with the last Believer.

Keep Walking!

Prasad Shetty

Critic said...

wowow..I like to comment on few of the below point Prasad,
You said,
1. Dont base religion on physical aspects like shape of the earth, Adam and Eve etc. I guess you mean dont mix religion and science? I totally accept this. I firmly believe that religion and science should not be mixed.
2. Dont believe everything that 'Science' says (I am not saying disbelieve everything that Science says). I strongly oppose this :-) Science is based on facts available at current point of time. If a new theory evolves at a later stage, then that becomes fact. This can be an ongoing process. Believing that we might get a new theory later, we cannot negate the proofs we have from science at present time.
3. And most importantly our 'Books' - 'Repositories' need to evolve. Religion is focused on History;
You are challenging the fundamental aspect of a religion which are our ancient books. There is no scope for anything to evolve in religion derived from books. Our beliefs, tradition can evolve. But no chance of books getting evolved. The contents of Geeta, Ramayava, Vedas, vedanta are written in stone and they cannot be changed/evolved. Its for a person to either believe them or change them to something else "of his own" or just ignore them.
As a simple example, Krishna in Geeta said, "Do your duties and leave all the results to me". People with religious belief have adopted this statement into their lives. So if someone says , this phrase needs to be rewritten since it doesnt apply for today's world, people will simply not accept it.

Anonymous said...

Critc, sorry mate, I dont agree with you.

I do not denounce science, but blind belief in science is as much superstition as is some of our religous activities. Take global warming for example. Most of us have been taught over the last few years that our atmosphere has got warmer. This is science. A set of studies is debating against it stating that everything from data collection to analysis is incorrect and inadequete when it comes to advocating global warming. This 'New' science claims that the earth has seen much warmer and much colder days and life has survived. I am not saying who is right. All I am saying is that science is 'OUR Understanding' of the truth that can so easily be wrong.

Third point, sorry mate I believe that all which is born has to die and it includes religion. If religion is now growing and evolving it sure is ageing and decaying towards its imminant death.

Keep Walking!

Prasad Shetty

Critic said...

hmm..I dont agree with the statement of your's which is "science is 'OUR Understanding' of the truth that can so easily be wrong". Science is highly based on experiments and results obtained from those experiments. Global warming is such a vast subject which cannot be concluded as true or false. Maybe true in certain, maybe not in other cases. FYI, I don't believe that global warming really exists and I believe that mother nature has its own way to adapt with changes happening.
And when we say global warming, the subject is sooo vast that experimenting and deriving results from all those is not possible in one's lifetime. Because the process is darn slow. I believe that there is no standard process to experiment and prove anything substantial.
Does this make science baseless?
Nothing from science is "OUR" understanding mate. You have got it wrong here. Science is based of experiments and the proofs what we have.

The second point is accepted that everything born will die, and this is also something which our religion/religious books say. So not sure what you want to convey here.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Shetty, Going bye the definition Science is to deal with facts/truth only.

In the scenario there is no absolute definition of fact known. Sceintists have used "theories" as an effort to "define something". These theories have been derived from step-by-step logical method, and have full possibility of going wrong. Some of these theories look very sensible, but are not facts. Some of the theories are "Newtons Laws are theories", "Einsteins Theory", "Law of conservation of energy", "Global warming".

Some of these theories have been put under tests to "prove" there credibility. But it is upto us to put effort and understand what is 100% proved.

Absolute facts are something which has been proved. (Earth is round, Atom, Molecules, some chemical reactions etc.)

People can have "Faith" on this theory (scientific) based on the logic proposed by the creator. It is a step towards understanding the truth.

Religion has similar theories to understand nature of universe, purpose of life etc. All our upanishads are theories, bhagavadgeetha is a theory. These theories have been improvised in "Buddhism", "Jainism", later in the AD days. Shakaracharya, Madvacharya have come with theories improvising the earliar theories. I think you have made a great point about "Improvising" the religious theories with more knowledge and information we have. It has to happen.

The reason this is not happening, is because Most people believe "Religious theory" as fact. It is similar to people believing a "Newtons theory" as a fact.

And that is the whole reason for me write the article :-)

We might believe something as a fact today. But when a counter argument comes, instead of rejecting it. We need to analyse the "Probability of Truth" in the counter argument.

Can you tell me what parts of the article you are confused upon. will give my best effort to clarify.