Summary (of "Question", "braHmavid=Krishna?" series of mails)

Roger Floyd Slowfork at AOL.COM
Fri Aug 23 14:07:44 CDT 2002

Dear Kiran and group


Kiran says,

"I believe that there is no such thing as a conflict
between science and religion. All such conflicts exist
only because of a communication-gap between the two

As far as I know the idea that there is no conflict between science and
religion ("because they are addressing different questions" or some such
argument) is western in conception. It originated with a group of Christians
in the late 19th/ early 20th  century as a sort of  desperate rearguard
action begun when they realised that they were losing their arguments with
science. However there are plenty of  fundamentalist Christians who are still
prepared to fight on at any price (for example the creationists in the US and
elsewhere). It would take a miracle of communication-gap bridging to
reconcile the beliefs of these people with their scientific opponents. The
situation is, of course, quite different with Hinduism which is an
accomodating tradition not so wedded to dogmatism as are many branches of

At the risk of straying briefly from Advaita I would like to address Kiran's
third and fourth paragraphs,

"When science cannot open a door (for whatever reason),
it tends to humour itself with probabilities. Since
current physics cannot tell why an electron seems to
be spinning "up" or "down" according to its own will,
it humours itself with Quantum Mechanics, which
postulates that subatomic particles are unpredictable.
Only a handful continue to ask what causes such
unpredictable behaviour. The rest roll up their
shoulders and fool governments to fund them, having
convinced them that banks will be looted otherwise.

Thus, Roger, it is untrue that science only occupies
itself with deterministic or repeatable events. If I
can run 100m in 2s one day, science will never forget
it. If Hailey had forgotten the famous comet, there
wouldn't have been a Hailey's comet which appears once
in 75 (?) years. Science takes note of
non-deterministic events, observes them over a long
period of time, and applies to governments for money."

Now it is true that the arrival of a new comet is both unpredictable and
unrepeatable so astronomy could be said to deal with unpredictable and
unrepeatable events. However both the existance and orbital motion of comets
is accounted for by physical theory which has been thoroughly tested in the
laboratory. The appearance and motion of a new one only serves as
astronomical confirmation of that theory. Again, one collision event recorded
at a giant particle accelerator like CERN will send particle physicists into
paroxysms of excitement because it is read as confirmation of the existance
of a particle not seen before but predicted by theory. The point is that
there is a theory to hand to explain the particle's existance and its
appearance confirms that theory. In the case of the 100m-in-2s dash there is
no theory to hand to explain the event. In fact it flies in the of existing
scientific understanding so science would rather not know about it, thank you
very much. Do it again to order though and, well, I suppose we'll have to
take notice and think up an explanation, inconvenient and painful though that
experience will be. Actually I do not have to rely on a thought experiment to
illustrate this sort of behaviour by science. There are a number of real
ones. For example it is clear to anyone who has studied the literature and
who has the courage to look a fact in the face that poltergeist phenomena are
not just imaginings or the result of acts performed by people in a state of
dissociation. However science isn't interested because the events are rare,
transient, unrepeatable and fly in the face of existing scientific

 Hari Om


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