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Science and Religion Can Science alone answer all questions? Or can only Religion provide the ultimate truth?

Does science have all answers?

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  #1  
Old 01 August 2006, 10:19 AM
nirotu nirotu is offline
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Does science have all answers?

Dear all:

When we look at the history one might conclude that the greatest forces in human civilization are not nuclear weapons or massive armies, but ideas. The ideas have propelled people engaging in revolutions, wars etc, these ideas have also been very influential that have developed in the sciences. They have rocked the world with intellectual revolutions.

Ideas have evolved in which creativity is deemed constructive as well as destructive. The development of science can be viewed from both perspectives. I believe greatest revolution in science took place with the invention of plow machine that put humankind on a different level. Man began to cultivate land and develop new ideas about using land for food. Since then, we credit many of our blessings to the results of science all shaped by simple ideas.

Along the lines, we theists have begun to understand God a little better through science. Yet, science is not fully adequate when it comes to explaining the nature of God. It is because we have developed ideas in our mind that objectivity is crucial in determining the truth in anything that is seen in this universe, which is believed to be accomplished through Science and scientific means. I would like to extrapolate this idea to the unseen. Can we explain God and His handiworks through science? How far can we push science to reconcile God? Science in and of itself is not wrong but may not be fully equipped in its current status to explain God.

Personally, I do believe that science is developing, in that more we know science, more of God will be revealed to us. Until then there is a place for mystery when it comes to the knowledge of God.

Here is what I read from different forums:
Quote:
We know that the Universe exists and is real. Every rational personincluding atheists and agnosticsmust admit this point. So the question arises, How did the Universe get here? If a thing cannot create itself, then it is said to be contingent because it is dependent upon something outside of itself to explain its existence. The Universe, therefore, is a contingent entity since it cannot cause or explain its own existence. If the Universe did not create itself, it must have had a cause.


There are only three possible answers to this question:
Quote:
(1) the Universe is eternal; it always has existed and always will exist;

Quote:
(2) the Universe is not eternal; rather, it created itself out of nothing; or

Quote:
(3) the Universe is not eternal, and did not create itself out of nothing, but instead was created by something (or Someone) outside of, and superior to, itself.
These three options deserve serious consideration.

I have seen numerous debates between atheist and theist on this subject on various forums. Most of theistic approaches have been Biblical in nature. I would like to put a twist to that. Perhaps, its time to see the take on this stemming from other theistic beliefs. On this note, I would like to know if there is any coherency among various theistic approaches. I mean, do people of different religious faiths come to agreement on the issue of creation vs. evolution science? It would be interesting to see different perspectives coming from different faiths and see if there is any connect between them.

This is free for all discussion.

Blessings,
nirotu
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Old 01 August 2006, 01:39 PM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

Namaste Nirotu,

Nice to see you after a long time:

You can add one more option to your list:

4. The Universe does not exist, but it appears to exist!


There is no way science can explain this according to me.

Hinduism has disposed off

1. the Universe is eternal; it always has existed and always will exist; (and)
2. the Universe is not eternal; rather, it created itself out of nothing;

so the only options from our end is
3. the Universe is not eternal, and did not create itself out of nothing, but instead was created by something (or Someone) outside of, and superior to, itself. (jAti vAda)
4. The Universe does not exist, but it appears to exist! (ajAti vAda)

3) does not have direct evidence(pratyaxa), but it can be inferred from a potter/pot analogy, but this analogy may not be correct for the question on the universe. Hence the only evidence is scriptural testimony, which is beyond the realm of material science.

4) also has neither direct nor inferential evidence, and hence must be trace only to scriptural testimony. ( words of the wise).


You may want to ask yourself: If God alone existed before the universe, what did he create the universe with? If you say that God created the universe out of nothing, you have not answered the third question, and it is equivalent with the second. So, if it were created by God, it must have created out of God as well - material causalty, by a process of modification( or other cause).

Hinduism does offer a scientific way to determine the cause of universe - the practice of one of the means of Yoga. But when the Yoga culimates you are no longer intersted in the answer, because you just found something far more important. The universe is almost insignifcant to the question "Who am I?". when you know who are are, you know what God is, and know the answer to every question. Without Yoga, material science would be helpless to uncover the secrets of the universe, however much it may advance.
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  #3  
Old 02 August 2006, 11:31 AM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

Personally, I believe that science will never have all the answers. After all human minds are working behind science and humans are fallible, therefore science will always have errors. But science is wonderful when understanding the physical realm.
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Old 03 August 2006, 10:57 AM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

Dear Sudarshan:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudarshan

Hinduism has disposed off

1. The Universe is eternal; it always has existed and always will exist; (and)
2. the Universe is not eternal; rather, it created itself out of nothing;
Agreed!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudarshan

3. The Universe is not eternal, and did not create itself out of nothing, but instead was created by something (or someone) outside of, and superior to, itself. (jAti vAda).


You may want to ask yourself: If God alone existed before the universe, what did he create the universe with? If you say that God created the universe out of nothing, you have not answered the third question, and it is equivalent with the second. So, if it were created by God, it must have created out of God as well - material causality, by a process of modification (or other cause).
This point is well taken! It begs the investigation.

You have posed a good question. Holding the proposition 3 requires that we prove #2 is not a possibility. This can be achieved by holding two entirely different views of God. Let me rephrase the question:

DID GOD CREATE THE UNIVERSE OUT OF NOTHING or OUT OF PRE-EXISTENT MATTER?

I would propose two views of God:

View 1:
Quote:
God is powerful who set the universe with all its laws in motion such that even God Himself is not able or powerful enough to bend or violate any laws of nature. If this was the way He intended and created the universe then He must not have violated any physical laws that govern the universe including the first law of thermodynamics. Thus, to be consistent, He must have created the universe out of matter that already existed before the universe. Such a view is upheld among Mormons. They do believe that God does not have the power to create out of nothing the materials for the creation.

View 2:
Quote:
God is all powerful and omnipotent in that there is nothing impossible for God. He is not limited by matter or limited in His capabilities. Such a God is truly omnipotent in that nothing is impossible for Him. Since, the universe is the effect of the cause; it can never be greater than the cause (God). Thus it places God above everything in His creation. Also, it puts Him apart from the laws He created to govern the universe because God indeed is supernatural and is above natural laws. This would lead me to conclude He can be above the law if He so desires. The violation of any natural law is possible with God if He chooses to do so.

Clearly, the first view presents God limited in his capabilities. He is limited by the matter that allegedly already existed, matter that was co-eternal with him. Because he is limited in his capabilities he is not all powerful.

The second view, for obvious reasons, I am comfortable with. Therefore, universe did not create itself out of nothing because it is the effect but God created universe out of nothing because He is the cause.

Given these two views, what would you choose?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudarshan
also has neither direct nor inferential evidence, and hence must be trace only to scriptural testimony. ( words of the wise).
The only thing I had to believe was that God is Omnipotent and all powerful! This would be in line with theistic belief regardless of scriptural support.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudarshan
The Universe does not exist, but it appears to exist! (ajAti vAda)
Being a realist, I have trouble accepting this simply because of the real world I live in. I do feel my toothache! I wish I could brush that off as an illusion! If my senses (any one of five) can perceive then it is real to me. That which exists is real.

This brings us to yet another point(s) to ponder on!


Why did God create the universe in the first place?

What is the purpose of creating a man?

If God can violate physical law at will, then where did physical law itself come from? Did it exist before he created matter - and if so, in what sense could laws governing matter exist while matter itself does not?

It would be interesting to discuss this from different angle!

Blessings,




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Old 03 August 2006, 07:12 PM
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Post Re: Does science have all answers?

Namaste,

If the material Universe is said to have created itself out of absolutely nothing, then this is Shunyavada!

If the Universe is not eternal, then (if it exists at all) it must have been created. And if this created Universe is said to have been created from something outside of the Creator, then there must be two coeternal entities, and this is akin to Samkhya, which posits Purusha (Spirit) and Prakriti (Prithivi or the world), with the latter eternally existing as the subtle Gunas quite apart from the coeternal creative Spirit.

If the created Universe was created from the very self of God (making Purusha the sole cause and source for the whole of Creation), then this is the normal perspective of Vedanta.

You have suggested two entirely dualistic alternatives:
1) God + Void => Universe,
2) God + Matter => Universe.

A third possibility is that the one eternal Spirit created the whole non-eternal Universe entirely from His/Her own infinite Self.

If the eternal natural Law is understood to be the manifest expression of the very nature of God, then there is no reason to expect that the ultimate laws of Physics would (or even could) be violated.

The First Law of Thermodynamics insists that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed, with the total amount of energy and matter in the Universe always remaining constant while merely changing from one form to another.

God is the very infinite and omnipotent source of all Creation ~ the one source of all Energy and all Matter and all of the Law that constrains them.

And Ajativada only states that nothing which is non-eternal can ever be eternally true, or all that is born is (by definition) non-eternal, and thus (by comparison with the ultimate eternal Truth) all that is born can only be temporarily true and a virtual illusion that will surely pass.
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Old 07 August 2006, 09:09 AM
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Post Re: Does science have all answers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarabhanga
A third possibility is that the one eternal Spirit created the whole non-eternal Universe entirely from His/Her own infinite Self.
Quote:
"To what does this world go back?"

"To space (akasa)," said he. "Verily, all things here arise out of space. They disappear back into space, for space alone is greater than these; space is the final goal."

-- Chhandogya-Upanishad (I,9,1)
Infinity and eternity vis-a-vis finiteness and mortality involve the concepts of space and time.

The universe is a manifestation of God, an emanation from his infinite, eternal self. But unlike God, the universe is neither infinite nor eternal. However, it appears to be real and eternal because of mahamaya (maya on a cosmic scale). Now, maya is not unreal, but is a state of conditional reality.

In the words of Shri Kanchi Paramacharya, "The term maya indicates that this universe is not non-existent like the horn of a rabbit, but seems to exist like a mirage. While the term adyanta asat indicates that which is not existent, the term pradipasika satyam indicates that which seems to exist.

In the unmanifested state, God remains as space or aakasa, which is the mulaprakriti for the universe. In this state, God is formless but not still. He remains as Pure Consciousness, Pure Motion or Pure Energy.

Then God willed, 'I will multiply', and brought forth the universe out of himself, using a portion of the space. He created forms out of this space using his divine breath and ensouled them with his divine consciousness. He did not do it directly, but manifested the saguna Brahman (personal God), the Trinity and the hierarchy down the line to create, administer, sustain and dissolve the forms. The hierarchy and the forms are not outside the one God. They are in him and he is in them all.

Thus a universe is both Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti in essence. Parabrahman is the life or energy, Mulaprakriti his form. Without Mulaprakriti, Parabrahman, the pure consciousness, or pure energy would remain, but this is not possible. Without Parabrahman, the Mulaprakriti would be lifeless and this is also not possible.

Where does Time fit in, in this scheme of forms and life?

To the western mind, time was linear, flowing from the future through the present into the past. Vedanta reveals that the true nature of time is not linear, but cyclic.

Time started with the origin of the universe and will end when the Great Breath inhales the universe and its forms it emanated. After the end of the cycle, there will be a new universe with another cycle of time, and then another, eternally. So, the universe and time are eternal in the sense that they are eternally recurrent phenomena.

Time, as we commonly know, is the duration or interval between two events. Where do these events happen? In space, inner or outer. Our concept of solar time in year, month and days is just a conditional break (khandakala) of the infinite time (kala). Because it is cyclic in nature, we have the illusion of a continuous flow of time.

It seems that Science has finally begun to merge its ways with the Vedantic inquiry with the advent of the Bell's theorem.

David Bohm, a former associate of Einstein, and a leading physicist of our day, conducted experiments and came to the conclusion that, as in a hologram, the information of the entire universe is contained in each of its parts. It is also proved that a change in the state of a single particle affects its twin simultaneously, even if the two are widely separted in space. The second particle gets the information about the change in its twin, and changes itself accordingly, but to pass this information, no energy transmission is involved! (This means that the transmission of information is metaphysical.) Bell's theorem, obviously, leads to the interrelation of human consciousness and the observed world.

Space, time and consciousness are the three parameters of everything that exists from Here to Eternity. While Science is still struggling with its physical means to correlate them, Vedanta has revealed eons ago, their nature, functions and their relation to Brahman.
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Old 10 August 2006, 11:20 AM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

Dear Saidevo:

Quote:
Originally Posted by saidevo
Quote:
"To what does this world go back?"

"To space (akasa)," said he. "Verily, all things here arise out of space. They disappear back into space, for space alone is greater than these; space is the final goal."

-- Chhandogya-Upanishad (I,9,1)


But unlike God, the universe is neither infinite nor eternal. However, it appears to be real and eternal because of mahamaya (maya on a cosmic scale). Now, maya is not unreal, but is a state of conditional reality.
An interesting concept! To me, the universe is as real as the people who reside in it. It does not appear to be real but truly is real. While it is the expression of the unmanifest eternal source, it remains finite in that there is definite end to it. In scientific term thermodynamic death precisely defines the end of the universe.

Quote:
In the unmanifested state, God remains as space or aakasa, which is the mulaprakriti for the universe. In this state, God is formless but not still. He remains as Pure Consciousness, Pure Motion or Pure Energy.

It is difficult to conceptualize the existence of space any space that is devoid of the source. Rather than calling it a space, I would prefer to call it the source unmanifest source - God.


This brings me back to the question I posed in my last thread:

Why God created this Universe in the first place?

Could this be a result of a deep yearning desire in the unmanifest to express His glory? Also by manifesting, to give us something to be in awe of and to find joy in its vasteness and complexity. Or may be, possibly as a demonstration of His power, so that we could have a view of Him or perhaps, to give us something to explore and reach for.

In order to achieve all these, the matter was considered a perfect vehicle or vessel and thus, the pure energy is transformed in to matter through this creative process. Thus, our creation is the result of that divine spark. We all are in essence possess divinity through His attributes love, long suffering, endurance, patience, kindness etc, etc. It should be remembered that God created us with volition free will to choose.

Such a source or creator is transcendent in that He is formless and invisible. This does not mean that He is distant from His creation! He still takes part in the affairs of the universe. He is immanent in every one of His creation down to minute detail. Many among Christians would like to think God became immanent through God Son Jesus Christ to be involved with us and teach us the righteous way. Thus, a Christian views God both as transcendent and immanent. This is also true with dharmic religions, especially with, Panentheology of Ramanuja and other Vaishnavites, where God is immanent and transcendent, relative and absolute.

Gods primary purpose in creating the universe, then, is of course to express his glory. Since God is Love (1 John 4.16), it is reasonable to assume that He created the universe to have something(s) to be the object(s) of His Love; and to have creatures who could share the beauty of Love (and therefore the beauty of God) by loving Him and one another. It all makes sense when underlying motivation is the LOVE that God wants to express and expect the same from us.

Putting this all together one may find the creation of the universe was necessary as the arena within which the freewill and character of humanity would be formed to explore and understand the one who created. In doing so, humanity could also learn of evil and act as witnesses against evil.

Quote:
To the western mind, time was linear, flowing from the future through the present into the past. Vedanta reveals that the true nature of time is not linear, but cyclic.

While I do not dispute in principle, the true nature of time is not necessarily cyclic either.

The wikipedia, for example, has this to say about time:
Quote:
To say that a being possesses a purpose implies an inclination or tendency to steer events toward some state that does not yet exist. This, in turn, implies a privileged direction, which we may call "time". It may be one direction of causality, the direction of increasing entropy, or some other emergent property of a world. These are not identical, but one must exist in order to progress toward a goal.
Such a progress towards goal (effect) can only be dealt meaningfully with time being linear and directed forward in which effect always follows cause. Thus, understanding in that sense, only linearity in time would accomplish an effect to a cause that happened at an earlier time. In cyclical nature, one can imply an opposite in that an effect occurring prior to cause, which I have trouble understanding. Is this just a matter of interpretation? I would like to know what others think!

Quote:
Space, time and consciousness are the three parameters of everything that exists from Here to Eternity. While Science is still struggling with its physical means to correlate them, Vedanta has revealed eons ago, their nature, functions and their relation to Brahman.
Well said!

Blessings,
nirotu
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Old 11 August 2006, 12:32 PM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

namaste,

Interesting different views so far. For me personally I had to go back to adhaya 9 and remind myself of what Bhagwan tells us about his nature...

prakrtim svam avastabhya
visrjami punah punah
bhuta-gramam imam krtsnam
avasam prakrter vasat

"I create the entire multitude of beings again and again with the help of my material nature (prakriti). These beings are under control of the modes (gunas) of nature (prakriti)."

beautiful...and direct right from his mouth!

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
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Last edited by satay : 11 August 2006 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 12 August 2006, 12:03 AM
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Wink Re: Does science have all answers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saidevo
To the western mind, time was linear, flowing from the future through the present into the past. Vedanta reveals that the true nature of time is not linear, but cyclic.

Time started with the origin of the universe and will end when the Great Breath inhales the universe and its forms it emanated. After the end of the cycle, there will be a new universe with another cycle of time, and then another, eternally. So, the universe and time are eternal in the sense that they are eternally recurrent phenomena.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirotu
While I do not dispute in principle, the true nature of time is not necessarily cyclic either.

Progress towards a goal (effect) can only be dealt meaningfully with time being linear and directed forward in which effect always follows cause. Thus, understanding in that sense, only linearity in time would accomplish an effect to a cause that happened at an earlier time. In cyclical nature, one can imply an opposite in that an effect occurring prior to cause, which I have trouble understanding.
Time surely is BOTH linear and cyclical.

A short-sighted world-bound perspective sees time as linear; although, with a longer view the cyclical nature of the path is revealed. But it is wrong to assume that these cycles must be circular and describing an endless loop of repeated experience.

Viewed from outside of the constant temporal flux, the overall flow seems quite linear, although with eddies and vortices driving themselves with the impetus of repeated cause and effect.

The manifest nature of time is perhaps better described as spiraling or helical.
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Old 12 August 2006, 08:31 AM
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Re: Does science have all answers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarabhanga
Time surely is BOTH linear and cyclical.

A short-sighted world-bound perspective sees time as linear; although, with a longer view the cyclical nature of the path is revealed. But it is wrong to assume that these cycles must be circular and describing an endless loop of repeated experience.

Viewed from outside of the constant temporal flux, the overall flow seems quite linear, although with eddies and vortices driving themselves with the impetus of repeated cause and effect.

The manifest nature of time is perhaps better described as spiraling or helical.
That is well said!
Blessibgs,
nirotu
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