[Advaita-l] Is God "unscientific"?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Sep 23 09:51:29 CDT 2005

On Fri, 23 Sep 2005, seshan narayanan wrote:

> 1. the applicability of certain pramanas to certain kinds of objects
> cannot be made in such categorical terms. if you do that a large body of
> knowledge that explicitly claim allegiance to the Vedas will have to be
> dumped as baseless.

The Mimamsakas did not believe they had to be dumped.  Only reinterpreted 
in a less literal way.

> Take the case of Ayurveda for instance. A large
> number of claims of this particular branch of knowledge are based on
> Sruti and the texts that constitute it.

The same could be said for jyotish.  The shastras claim the earth is a 
flat disc revolving around Mt. Meru supported by four elephants standing 
on a tortoise.  Yet by the time of Bhaskaracharya possibly earlier, 
jyotishis agreed that that the earth was spherical and meru referred to 
its axis.  I believe some were even aware that the moon orbits the 
earth and the earth orbits the son.  How did this happen?  Was there some 
battle between some Indian Galileo and some Indian Pope?  History does not 
seem to have passed this down.  More likely, Jyotishis just did not treat 
the shastras like they were mere cookbooks.

> 2. the point about prayers is also suspect. Prayers of any kind, apart
> from those that describe a deity, are clearly are not translatable to a
> propositional form. this being the case , how can this function as a
> substitute for the justification?

The Mimamsaka response would be that the mantras are indeed meaningless. 
(or rather whatever linguistic meaning they have is not relevant to the 
practice of Dharma.)  The vidhis are the only parts of the shastras which 
have intrinsic meaning because they describe acts and words are 
subordinate to action.

> The point I wish to make is simple. The theories of knowledge and
> meta-justificatory principles enshrined in the Sruti are clearly more
> accomodating than the claims made on their behalf. Please do not rob
> these texts of their flexibility and its open-endedness.

It could be that the Shruti explains more than just Dharma.  But that is a 
happy accident not its main purpose.

Note these theories are extensively discussed in the Purva Mimamsa 
darshan.  Advaita Vedanta accepts 90% of it lock, stock, and barrel, the 
key difference being we believe there is a higher goal than just action.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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