Can science by its future progress discover spiritual truths?

by Chaitanya Charan dasAugust 6, 2010

Answer: Yes and no.

The spiritual philosophy, explained in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts, is a science in its own right, for it is systematic, coherent, verifiable and repeatable – all characteristics of any good scientific theory. Unfortunately, many modern scientists define science as the study of matter alone, thus rejecting spiritual truths as “unscientific” right from the beginning without any proof whatsoever. This a priori restriction of the scope of science is evident from geneticist Richard Lewontin’s remark: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories … because we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Such dogmatic rejection of a Divine Foot militates against the scientific spirit of free enquiry. As stated by pioneering atomic physicist Robert Oppenheimer, “[In science] there must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science.” Only after science breaks free from its anti-spiritual dogma can it start discovering spiritual truths.

Still, science will at best discover only preliminary spiritual truths, not advanced. Here’s why. Every field of knowledge has its own distinctive methods. To gain advanced knowledge of that field without adopting its methods is often impossible. To illustrate, let’s consider different scientific instruments of increasing complexity:

  1. We can measure our bodily weight quickly using a weighing machine. However, to measure the weight without using the machine, we have to adopt the cumbersome process of standing on one side of a weighing scale and stacking one kg weights on the other side until the two sides balance.
  2. We can measure the distance from the earth of a particular star in a distant galaxy with a telescope. However, to measure that distance without using the telescope, we have to adopt the expensive and impractical process of boarding a spacecraft and flying until there while keeping an eye on the distance meter – assuming of course that we stay alive until then.
  3. We can measure the speed of a fundamental particle using a particle accelerator. However, if we wish to measure that speed without the accelerator, it’s impossible.

Just as science has its distinctive methodology, so does spirituality. So, scientific methodology can discover basic spiritual principles like the existence of soul and God. However, spiritual methods like devotional mantra meditation alone will enable us to verify experientially advanced spiritual principles like the identity and the personality of God.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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