Why discuss unscientific things like God, soul and rebirth in this scientific age?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJuly 28, 2010

Question: When I talk about God, soul, rebirth, people often question: why discuss such unscientific things in this modern age of science?

Answer: Their question originates not from their scientific thinking, but from their belief in scientism, the peculiar school of thought that places around science a halo of “omniscience.”

The reputed physicist Fritjof Capra in his well-known book The Tao of Physics explains how scientific knowledge is like a map. Just as a map helps in navigating the mapped territory, science helps in manipulating the physical world. However, a map, no matter how exhaustive, is neither the territory, nor a complete description of the territory. Similarly, scientific knowledge, no matter how exhaustive, is neither the reality, nor a complete description of the reality. If the map helps us to precisely reach a particular house in a city, where we meet the owner of the house, will we decide that the owner of the house is non-existent and imaginary because he is not shown in our map? Obviously not. Similarly, scientific knowledge may efficiently guide us in our exploration of the physical world, but when we encounter essential features of our world that are not found in the world of science –emotions, consciousness, free will, the quest for meaning and purpose, should we reject these features as unscientific and so unreal? Obviously not.

Former US President Theodore Roosevelt warned eloquently about the consequences of scientism: “There is superstition in science quite as much as there is superstition in theology, and it is all the more dangerous because those suffering from it are profoundly convinced that they are freeing themselves from all superstition. No grotesque repulsiveness of medieval superstition, even as it survived into nineteenth-century Spain and Naples, could be much more intolerant, much more destructive of all that is fine in morality, in the spiritual sense, and indeed in civilization itself, than that hard dogmatic materialism of today which often not merely calls itself scientific but arrogates to itself the sole right to use the term. If these pretensions affected only scientific men themselves, it would be a matter of small moment, but unfortunately they tend gradually to affect the whole people, and to establish a very dangerous standard of private and public conduct in the public mind.”

In his remarkable book Mechanistic and Non-Mechanistic Science,Cornell-educated Dr Richard L Thompson explains how the path of Bhakti-yoga explained in the Bhagavad-gita constitutes a higher-dimensional science that incorporates God, soul and rebirth, and coherently explains the essential features of life that modern science can’t explain. Most importantly, the Gita path invites each one of us to experientially verify its truths.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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