Can one have faith in the Almighty and yet be scientific minded?

Yes, and it is even natural. One only needs to deeply reflect on what is meant by the Almighty.

If somebody grew up as a Christian or Muslim, he needs, however, to get rid of some notions about the Almighty which can never be proven and are in all likelihood not true – for example that He favours those who believe in a specific book (Bible, Quran) and sends all others to eternal hell and that he is a superhuman (male) creator, separate from humans, and that he made his will known only recently, not even 2000 years ago, and that the jury is still out (because two religions stake claim to it), to whom he has spoken the last world of the ‘only truth’… .

But Vedic wisdom can help to correct one’s view, as it had already long before Christianity and Islam appeared, a highly mature understanding of the ‘Almighty’:

The Rishis claim that everything in this creation including ourselves is permeated by the same great intelligence, like waves are permeated by the same ocean. The waves may be convinced that they are separate from the ocean as they have a distinct form and name. But ultimately all waves are nothing but the one great ocean and nothing is lost when their form is lost. Similarly, though we may consider our person as separate from others, in truth we are the one consciousness and nothing of substance is lost when form and name are lost.

Further, Indian Rishis claim that the apparent reality is not really real. It is a sense deception (maya), in a similar way, as at dusk a rope is mistaken to be a snake, even though in reality there is only a rope. Truly true is our inner being (Atman) that permeates everything. It means that in our essence, we are infinite, spread out all over as it were, eternal.

Now this ocean analogy sounds almost like modern physics. How come? Did the scientists discover that all is one energy independently or were their theories inspired by the Vedas? Had the scientists reflected on the profound insights of the Indian rishis?

Indeed this had been the case. The scientists who were responsible for replacing Newton’s paradigm of a universe full of separate things with an interconnected, homogeneous Whole were inspired by Vedanta: Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Pauli, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Tesla and others, all knew about and reflected on India’s ancient wisdom.

In contrast, dogmatic religions never fostered science. What sadder example can there be than the burning of the great Nalanda University library in present day Bihar by Islamic invaders in 1193 AD. The collected treasure of the best minds was turned into ash and thousands of students were brutally killed. Voltaire rightly said, “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Yet times are changing. The awareness that we would be better off without blind belief in irrational dogmas is growing. Christianity is losing its hold over its followers in the west. I just read that in Berlin, the capital of Germany, only 25 per cent of the inhabitants are still Christians. And Islam, though seemingly still on an upswing, is being scrutinised, too. The recent wide-spread protests in Iran point to the fact that not all believe what they are told to believe and even risk their lives for freedom.

So to come back to the question: belief in an Almighty Presence is not an obstacle to being a scientific minded person, but rather a help. It can help to even expand science. Here is why:

Science is defined as knowledge gained from observation and experimentation. The Rishis, however, added one more method – knowledge gained from inner exploration. This inner exploration or meditation lifts Vedic wisdom above science and inspires it.

Scientists have discovered the oneness of all, but for them the oneness is dead, without life. The Rishis have discovered the oneness of all many thousand years earlier, and they ‘saw’ or realised that this oneness is alive and knows itself.

The truth is not something abstract, cold, and theoretical. It is the conscious, loving, intelligent essence in all from where thoughts emerge. True inspiration and intuition come from this level. Srinivasan Ramanujan, the great mathematician, would have touched this level from where he received amazing mathematical insights . He related to it as Devi Namagiri.

Many great scientists acknowledge an almighty intelligence as the cause for (or essence of) this universe. Einstein, too, acknowledged it. In a letter to a school girl, who asked him if scientists pray, he wrote: “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man.”

This spirit level (Indians called it Atman) is within all of us. It is the Almighty and we are definitely better off if we acknowledge its presence and trust it. The Rishis advocate complete trust – after all, it is Almighty…

By Maria Wirth

PS: a similar question ” How can I hold my faith in Almighty as well as being a scientific minded person?” was asked on Quora to which I replied. The above article is based on my reply.

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23 comments

  1. David Robertson · · Reply

    Great post. I just wrote a post too very similar in topic. Its about the role of religion in science throughout history and how the “clash” between the two is exaggerated. If youre interested

    1. yes, please give the link.

      1. Hallo David,
        I am truly amazed that you manage a long article on science and religion without mentioning India and her Vedic knowledge even once. Though you do suddenly introduce “Hindu” in your second last sentence.

        Probably, I should not be amazed, because this is the ‘narrative’ that is peddled in the west, where the world ends with Greece and Egypt, maximum with Babylon. I wonder whether you really never came to know that the famed “Islamic science” goes back to India almost 100 per cent? It is common (and unethical) to credit westerners (including Pythagoras, Newton or Copernicus) and Muslims with what Indians had discovered, but that you even find credit in Christian and Islamic texts is again amazing. Did you really read the Quran and then you came to your conclusion?

        You are right, saying “.. when modern science began to emerge in the West, it was influenced partly by translated texts from Islamic sources.” But why not mention that most of those “Islamic sources” were translated from Indian texts? The Surya Siddhanta for example landed in Spain with the Arabs already in the 8th century. Islamic science?? The other part, that influenced science was directly from Vedic sources. You would know that modern physics is based on Vedantic thought.

        Maybe your main purpose of the article was to expose the shallowness of atheism. That’s ok. But the way you did it, clearly gives a wrong picture. Unfortunately, most people in the west won’t even notice it. Knowledge about the greatness of Indian thought is not meant to reach the common man. He needs to be a faithful “believer”, not somebody who genuinely is interested and enquires into truth.
        Maria Wirth

  2. Virginia Watson · · Reply

    Thank you, Maria. Your teachings from the Rishis are inspiring & the only “religious?” thought that makes any sense to me.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. “Dayananda was the first leader in the field of theology who welcomed the advances of sciences and technology. To him, the Vedas as the source book contain the seed of science, and to him, the Vedas advocate the philosophy of dynamic realism.” Romain Rolland

    http://www.vjsingh.info/books.html

  4. This spirit level (Indians called it Atman) is within all of us. It is the Almighty and we are definitely better off if we acknowledge its presence and trust it. The Rishis advocate complete trust – after all, it is Almighty…

    Great post Maria ji but I beg to differ. Brahman (Atman) and Almighty (God) are not one and the same thing. They should be seen as, and presented as, separate perspectives of the intelligence that permeates everything. Atman can belong to the field of science as you have detailed in your article, however the Almighty should be kept in the domain of Arts, not science, unless the scientific subject being studied is Human Psychology.

    Humans are emotional creatures and the only reason why Arts exists is because we are emotional. Robots for example, would never even imagine some God (let alone “believe” in God), since robots are not emotional. They only know science and maths. Humans otoh know many more things. We know love, hate, anger, fear, wants, desires, hope, etc. We know that compared to the world we are small and fragile. We know that many times we are powerless and weak.

    And that is why we believe in the Almighty. “Almighty” means all-powerful and it is an attribute that we give to God/Ishwar. It is true that the ultimate reality underlying God is the same one as the one underlying us, but since we are trapped in this worldly maya where we have weaknesses, we NEED the help and support of the Almighty.

    As long as we are trapped in worldly maya, we should NEVER call ourselves “God” or “Almighty”. It is because of two reasons-

    1) If we call ourselves Almighty, whose help and support are we going to take in times of weakness and difficulties?, and

    2) It causes confusion among people and leaves believers susceptible to believing half-truths and misleading ideas. Please watch the video below. (Go straight to min 6:17 if you don’t want to watch the full video.) The Hindu man in the video says “I am God” and then Zakir Naik shuts him up in no time. As someone who know what the Upanishads teach, you and I know exactly what he meant when he said “I am God”, but Zakir Naik’s audience did not have a clue. Their idea of “God” is very different. They obviously thought the man has gone nuts.

    But also consider what happens to the Hindus who watch this video. They are left confused and unsure. Chances are that the Hindu man from the video also was left feeling confused, unsure, and humiliated after the show.

    And it all happened because he made the error of stating “I am God”. In this world it is safe to say “I am Brahman” or “I am Atman”, but it is unwise from all perspectives to say “I am God” or even worse “I am Almighty”. The wise thing to do is to believe in a ‘God’ separate from us (for help and support).

    When we have realized the ultimate truth, and have realized that this world is a play of Brahman going on, and have realized that we are participating in this play via our emotions, then too we would believe in a God just for the sake of Arts, because Arts is the medium via which we “play” in this world 🙂

    1. Some people may still be unsure of why it is unwise to call oneself “God” or “Almighty”, so here is some clarification-

      God is a worldly relationship (to humans) just as mother, father, or Guru is a worldly relationship. Technically speaking, the Atman in your mother is the same as the Atman in you, but would you ever say “I am my mother”? If you do, it would sound as you are saying that you have the same status as your mother. No. Our mother always has a higher status to us. It is a matter of worldly relationship.

      Let’s say you are the son of a tea-stall vendor, and you study hard and work hard and become PM of India. Would you say “I am my father”? Would you think that you have gained a higher status than your father? No. Your father would always have a higher status to you. It is a matter of worldly relationship.

      Let’s say you are a follower of Sadhguru. Would you ever say “I am my Guru” and start behaving with him as if you and him are equal? No matter how enlightened you have become and no matter how clearly you have realized the ultimate truth, your guru would always have a higher status to you. It is a matter of worldly relationship. You would harm only yourself if you start saying “I am my Guru”!

      The same is the case with God. It is a matter of worldly relationship. It is extremely unwise to say “I am Almighty” or “I am God”. God would always have a higher status to us, no matter what we have attained.

      “Brahman” and “God” are two separate ideas. Brahman/Atman is a more technical idea. There isn’t any emotional relationship involved here. For this reason we CAN believe and state “Aham Brahmasmi” or “I am Atman”. With “God” however, we have a worldly, emotional relationship, so we cannot.

      Hope this helped.

      1. mystical · ·

        Depends on your definition of God. For us God is a consciousness present everywhere, it is the same as Brahman(infiinite) Aham Brahmasmi means to me, I am infinite. God as worldly relationship means it’s separate from you, that is not the case in Sanatan Dharma.

  5. I stumbled across your blog on twitter. I love your perspectives and I find it very pragmatic in today’s world. I look forward to reading a lot more 🙂

    1. glad to know

  6. […] its presence and trust it. The rishis advocate complete trust—after all, it is Almighty…. – Maria Wirth, 2 February […]

  7. Dhruba Basu · · Reply

    Spirituality based upon science is the principal method to solve all problems related to life and livinghood — Acharya Srinat Gour Gangyopadhyay. An illumining article.

  8. An excellent read for today, you have answered a question asked by many of the science educated or modernised youths of today.
    Thank you for such a gr8 post.
    👍

  9. This article invokes the sublime dogmas of the Lingayat religion of Karnataka state in India

    1. It doesn’t invoke a dogma (sorry i pressed something wrong on the mobile and it got sent) of a religion but invokes the insights of the Vedic Rishis. a dogma is not verifiable. the insights of the rishis are, through sadhana.
      do you want to dissociate from your ancestors???

  10. Jal Shah · · Reply

    Who is your Guru? Where did you learn all this? And that too also in this depth?

    1. met many gurus but rely now on inner guru. (sent off to the publisher a few days ago my first book in English which hopefully comes out soon).

  11. BALJEET SINGH SAINI · · Reply

    Hi Maria, I am particularly attracted by the fact that your interest lies in spirituality…of you want to know more about Hinduism, it’s roots, beginning and reestablishment, you may please call me on any Sunday…
    I will provide you the my contact through email

  12. Ravi Krishnamoorty · · Reply

    Excellent

  13. Dalip Singh Kalirawna · · Reply

    श्रधेय माँ , हम पर आपका वात्सल्य बना रहे…..

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