Is Religion opposed to Science? A Vedic Perspective

March 4, 2021 Authored by: David Frawley

To discover that ultimate spiritual Truth, we must approach it with the same rigor that a scientist applies to his or her experiments. In Western civilization, science and religion have become opposed and conflicting forces. To simplify somewhat, science emphasizes reason and experiment, whereas religion bases itself on faith and dogma. At first, religious authority sought to suppress the scientific enterprise, holding the threat of excommunication over the heads of the bold adventurers of this new way of acquiring knowledge. Where the Church failed to intimidate scientists with the threat of excommunication, it often resorted to imprisonment, torture, and execution. But scientists would not be silenced.

In their turn, scientists often felt the need to disprove religion, regarding religion as mere fantasy or wish fulfillment and religious states as mental derangements. Thus a bitter enmity between religion (the clerical establishment) and science was created—an enmity that has by no means been overcome today. However, there are now more and more thoughtful people who consider the old dichotomy between religion and science as false and unconstructive. They prefer to look at these two approaches to reality as complementary.

This approach corresponds to the view of the perennial philosophy. Thus, according to the Vedic tradition, science and religion are not only compatible but essentially identical, because both endeavor to know the truth. We can formulate the Vedic view as follows: Religion must be founded on reason and experience. It should not be contrary to natural law and should be part of a way of objectively understanding the inner or higher truth of the human being and the universe. Likewise science must address the ultimate issues of life and death and not merely concern itself with transient matters. It must not merely turn its eye upon the outer world but also look into the inner world of consciousness. It also must be a way of linking up (religio) with the cosmic and infinite reality through deep, unbiased consideration.

The challenge today is to harmonize science and religion, which gives birth to a spiritually sensitive science that combines the objective approach of science to inner realities with the sacred reverence of religion toward the outer world. Such a new science calls for a methodology of introspection that provides direct experiential access to the inner reality.

We propose that the Vedas contain the rudiments of such an integral spiritual science, which we must reclaim for ourselves. An important aspect of this task is to translate the Vedic understanding into modern concepts and make it relevant to our contemporary situation.

[Source: :- Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak and David Frawley, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, p. 278-279]

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