Why do we require faith to understand spirituality where as we don’t require faith to know science ,only proof can work?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJune 16, 2013

Answer Podcast

Transcription By: Sudha Mehta Mataji (From Bosnia)

Edited By: HG Murlidhar Prabhu

Question: Why do we require faith in spirituality before we can understand where as  In science,only proof can work?

Answer: It is a misconception to think that in science no faith is required only proof is there. Actually science depends a lot on faith.

First and foremost science depends on the faith, that we can observe things properly, meaning what our eyes show us is the actual reality. When Newton saw the fruit falling down there is faith that there is a fruit out there and the fruit falls down and he can measure the distances, the weights, the speed, etc. with his senses and instruments. Actually science first and foremost requires faith that the world outside exists and it can be observed and measured with our senses and extension of the senses which are the instruments.

This we may say is obvious but actually it’s a matter of faith because this same principle can be examined philosophically; for example according to Quantum physics the world as we perceive it is simply an illusion, in the sense that there are no such things literally speaking as objects. Ultimately there are just waves. So of course science doesn’t say that the world out there is illusion in the sense it is Maya like the spiritual literatures say, but the point is in quantum physics the assumption that what we see with our senses is real is countered. So that means within science itself the idea that we can have faith in our senses is countered by another theory which says that although my senses tell me that the table in front of me is hard and solid actually it is made up of atoms which are mostly empty space and ultimately even those atoms they seem to be particles but if we go down further they are simply waves. So that means even quantum physics itself which is a branch of science is telling us that we should have faith in the theories of quantum physics and not faith in the observation that we are making with our senses.

Now which faith should we actually have? This is actually the conflict between empiricism and rationalism. Empiricism says that what we see with our eyes is real; rationalism says that what we infer with our reasoning and theorising is actually real. Science itself demands not just faith but two different kinds of faith either in our sensory capacities or in our mental capacities;and both these faiths are on many occasions mutually contradictory.

The faith in our sensory capacity is called pratyaksha praman and faith in our mental capacity is called as anumanpramana and both of them are finite; they can give us limited knowledge but they are also fallible; they can also give us erroneous knowledge and the Bhagwad Gita 15.7 tells us manah-sasthanindriyani/ prakrti-sthanikarsati. It tells that the soul who relies on the mind and the senses for knowledge undergoes struggle; “Karsati” undergoes struggle for material existence because the soul never understands what is in the ultimate interest? And so doesn’t understand reality doesn’t perceive reality and doesn’t experience real lasting happiness.

Now moving forward if we look further at science &even if we assume that whatever we observe is correct, we postulate a theory.Actually a theory is a leap of faith. That means when we have a set of observations then we infer a pattern from those observations which are not directly implied by those observations. So the propositions of a theory from those observations is an act of faith. Now subsequent observation &subsequent experimentations may prove that faith to be right and sometimes it may prove that faith to be wrong; but essentially when we make a theory it’s an act of faith.

And even if we say that some theory is proven to be correct,even that proof is relative. For instance, when Newton’s theory was considered to be proven to be correct for several hundred years till relativity and quantum physics came along and now it is understood that Newton’s theory is actually true only in certain contextual situations. It is true for large bodies that are not subatomic particles and for bodies that are not moving at extremely high speeds nearing the speed of light.For subatomic particles quantum theory is what works and for objects moving at speed of light it is the relativity that works. Hence even when we say that something is being proven by science that proof can turn out to be wrong; which means that what we called as proof was actually some evidence and that was the basis of our faith and the basis of our faith proved to be wrong.

So even when we accept a proof accepting that proof is also an act of faith; we may find the proof turned out to be wrong and that means the faith that we had put is not valid. So actually it is only colossal ignorance of the actual working of science that will make a person believe that science does not require faith. Science does require faith at every stage; at the stage of observation,at the stage of theorization,at the stage of conclusion and even at the stage of experimentation.

When one proposes a particular theory and devises a set of instruments for an experiment, at that time one has faith that one’s instrumental set up and one’s experimental set up will be able to catch the necessary observations that will prove or disprove the theory. This is also an act of faith meaning when I am looking under a microscope to see some microbes I have faith that the microscope will show me the microbes. Now if I were measuring sonic vibrations the microscope would not show me that for that I need some other meter. But the point is when we make an experimental set up at that time we don’t know in advance that experimental set up will catch the parameter that we are looking for and that there are not other parameters which have an influence on our measurements and we may get an observation that may be erroneous because our experimental set up could not catch all the relevant parameters that need to measured. So in every stage science requires faith and it’s a colossal error to think science acts only on proof and not on faith.

Now why does spirituality require faith? Actually all branches of knowledge requires faith. So like that spirituality also requires faith; now the faith in spirituality is reasonable because it’s sensible and verifiable. If you study the philosophy then it makes sense and it answers the fundamental questions of life and that is whyit’s sensible. Then it is verifiable because whatever spirituality predicts, say by doing this & this, these are the transformations that a person will experience in one’s life, and one experiences those transformations; and in that sense the faith is sensible and verifiable; that is why it’s reasonable faith.

Hence what we should be asking for is not why we should have to put faith because we require faith in each branch of life but what we should be asking is “Is the faith reasonable or not”?

And I have my whole seminar on my website on faith “Tap the power of faith” which talks how about faith in spirituality is reasonable. Just like the doctor says this this this is the disease and makes a diagnosisand gives prescription do this this this and you will get cured and we get cured; that means the faith in the doctor is sensible and verifiable.Like that scriptures gives us philosophical explanation which makes sense which is like the doctors diagnosis and scriptures give us practices which heal us spiritually which is like the doctor’s prescription; such a faith is not only desirable it is essential without that we will not be able to live.

Thank you

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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