Similarities between Religious & Scientific Thinking
It is energy that is playing a significant role in the context of every living or non-living object of the universe. The theories of science have delved into the formation of atoms and inside the atoms: the protons, neutrons, and electrons. Everything we see today is considered the product of an event that the scientists call the Big Bang, which occurred billions and billions of years ago. All matter has its history that dates back to this Big Bang. Our universe is continuously expanding since then. Theoretical physicists proved a number of these theories related to the Big Bang with different scientific and mathematical models created by them.
Our whole universe has many such miraculous happenings every moment. Several galaxies are being formed, and several galaxies are converted into black holes, which are considered dense bodies of energy and matter with so much gravitational force that even light cannot come out of it. In this whole universe with innumerable galaxies and many solar systems, till date, we don’t know of any other planet except the earth where there is life. If we see it in that context, we can then imagine how precious life is and how complex nature is.
Looking into the whole affair of our universe and its vastness, we can imagine that a predesigned process is going on, continuous creation and destruction is going on, the development of life on earth can be considered a tiny event in the vastness of our universe. Still, there is a big question in front of science. Is there any possibility of life anywhere else in the universe? We have incidental writings and fiction based on aliens. We can find their mention in many scriptures of different religions and cultures. Till date, we don’t have any definitive evidence of the existence of life in the universe, but considering the vastness of our universe we realise that till now we have been able to explore only a tiny part of it. Maybe in the near future or a few centuries down the line, we humans will acquire the ability to explore it more and find some definitive clues about the existence of life in some unknown corner of space or the presence of our imaginary “aliens”. Till then, we shall remain busy making sci-fi movies and giving new heights to our imaginations—just like our ancestors have reflected their fantasies of flying by creating characters who were able to fly. Now we have excellent quality airplanes and very safe air travel. Thus, the collective human consciousness and collective intelligence have created a collective human imagination. Our collective imagination is reflected in the creative writing, cinema, and art of our times. It was as valid for the man in prehistoric times as it is for man in the modern era. In ancient times, we used to write on stones; now we are making sci-fi movies. We have proved the collective imaginations of our ancestors right, and thus our future generations will prove us right.
Though we have many positive fantasies about the future of humanity, at the same time, our collective human imagination also has many negativities as well. These are frightening, such as the sophistication of weapons of mass destruction, challenges of advances in science like artificial intelligence, problems of modern biomedical researches, environmental pollution, global warming and so on. All these complicated scientific advancements may be potentially disastrous to humankind if not used with human values. If an extremist terrorist group gets its hands on all these scientific developments, or a dictatorial element acquires such sophistication to address its whims and fancies, they can cause much more harm with a potential to end present human civilisation, if used with the wrong intention by some groups of people. So, we are also having this frightening aspect to our collective human imagination as well.
In different cultures and religions, we already have several such mythological legends, like in Hinduism, Lord Shiva is said to have a third eye, and his third eye is said to have the power of destruction when it opens. Likewise, in many other cultures, we have such superhuman characters with immense power which, if provoked or not appropriately treated or becomes agitated, can cause tremendous harm and destruction in nature, which can be disastrous for human beings. It is our collective imagination, collective consciousness, and collective intelligence that always consider the positive and negative aspects and their effects on human beings for any deed or development by human beings. This collective thought process keeps on working and evaluating on every aspect of human life, human intelligence, human consciousness, and human imagination, be it scientific, social, religious, cultural, political or personal.
Here we can see the similarities between scientific thinking and religious thinking because both have a process of change; both are the products of the same thought process; both have their origins in the human quest to explore the mysteries of nature. Several great scientists, from Aristotle to Einstein, have spoken about the importance of spirituality and spiritual thinking in different areas of science and technology. One fascinating quote by Einstein elaborates on the spirituality and religion in science and their connection to our thought process. He says, “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifested in the laws of universe one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way, the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of the special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naïve.” He mentioned about a kind of different religiosity once someone is involved deeply in science. That ‘different kind’ of religiosity is spirituality. Carl Sagan, the famous physicist of the modern era, once said, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” When we think with our scientific knowledge, several areas of conventional religiosity are replaced with scientific facts, which ultimately helps in increasing space for spirituality and spiritual thinking.
(The writer is a surgeon, author, researcher & public health activist based in Dehradun)
Friday, 26 July 2019 | Dr Mahesh Bhatt | in Devbhoomi Spiritual
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