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Re: Dealing with Darwin?

From: Rajaram Venkataramani (rajav_at_hclt.com)
Date: Thu May 06 1999 - 23:12:54 PDT

Dear Bhagavathas,

We must accept the vedic opinion when it contradicts our scientific opinion.
Vedic opinion is the word of Krishna dharmam tu sakshat bhagavat pranitam.
As a result this knowledge is completely perfect. On the other hand, modern
scientific opinion is based on the opinion of scientists who have the
following four defects :
1. Imperfect Senses : You cannot even see your hand in a dark room
2. Make mistakes : Dalton's concept of atom(indivisible) was later found to
be a mistake.
3. Tendency to cheat : Dont we know how much cheating is going on in the
scientific community.
4. Illusion : Materialists do not knows who I am. If you do not even know
about yourself, why you are born or die or how you think and act the way you
do, how can you comment on the Universe - past, present and future.

There are two aspects of Science :
1. One is practical application of scientific  models. With the help of our
knowledge of electronics, we created computers, Internet etc. We will use
this in the service of Krishna and general comfort of society as we are
doing now.
2. Fundamental science : We will not use the our tiny brains to fathom how
they were created because it is not possible to understand. We will use the
words of God.

Vedic period stressed more on spiritual understanding an they used subtle
technologies to satisfy dharmartha and kama needs with a fraction of effort
that we need today. As a result of our dull brains which again is the result
of the advancing of kali yuga, we have lost our ability to use mantras to
achieve desired results. But still the names of the Lord (Krishna, Rama
etc.) are powerful enough to give us spiritual awakening. So we will cling
on to the names.

Fundamentally we dont have to care about scientific knowledge. They only
deal with material things and like all material things scientific knowledge
is temporary. Newton described gravity in one way, Einstein in another and
that is being challenged today.  However we have lost much of the mundane
vedic sciences like medicine, engineering etc. So we will use  the modern
techniques just like a snake takes away a rat hole. Whether we use mantras
to light fire or friction between inflammable objects to light fire, it is
only Krishna who is the doer.

We can react to athiestic opinion of some of the foolish scientist by
showing that they are have the above four defects and hence their knowledge.
We should oppose theory of evolution etc., not because it cannot happen. Any
thing is possible for Krishna. But we should oppose only because some
scientists use it to show that Krishna does not exist.

I dont think that our tradition is mainly based on anubhavam. Even while
saying this we are referring to alwars etc. So it is more correct to say
that our belef is based on authority. Our own experience of bhakti can be
discounted as unexplained mental phenomenon by scientists. Why not ? But if
we base our arguments on the statements of the Vedas there is no problem
because we are taking knowledge directly from Krishna and his devotees who
are on the absolute platform.

Christians are any one who defends God is superior to atheistic mortal
scientists who propound  theories which they can in no way be sure of and
mislead people in to adharma.

We dont have to misinterpret vedas when they say things which contradict our
observation - for example seven seas around earth, green cheese moon etc.
That is because our interpretation manufactured with our tiny brains is also
bound by the four defects stated above. So we will honestly admit that we do
not know what it means. Our ignorance does not make Krishna ignorant. Some
times mothers explain so many things to the child about moon, trees etc.,
while feeding him. The child does not obviously understand these things. But
he does not think that the mother does not know what she is taliking about.
Like that we will accept Krishna's statements revealed directly and through
sages without interpretation. One reason that He is great because He is so
knowledgeable that many things He says are incomprehensible to our tiny
brains.

You said, Sri Ramanuja makes the brilliant
>point that when one's understanding of the Veda disagrees
>with knoweldge obtained through scientific investigation, the
>scientific observation is preferred
Please show the authority.

Having said this I fall at the lotus feet of all the vaishnavas here and
pray to you to forgive me for any offense I might have committed because of
ignorance

Regards
Rajaram


-----Original Message-----
From: Mani Varadarajan <mani@best.com>
To: bhakti@lists.best.com <bhakti@lists.best.com>
Date: Friday, May 07, 1999 1:35 AM
Subject: Re: Dealing with Darwin?


>
>Mukunda,
>
>In my opinion, there is absolutely no problem in accepting
>scientific opinion regarding the origin of species and the
>universe, and at the same time being a devout Vedantin and
>follower of Sri Ramanuja.
>
>Let me explain why.
>
>The philosophers of Vedanta typically posit three ways
>of "knowing" things: (a) pratyaksha -- perception or
>direct observation, (b) anumAna -- inference or logical deduction
>such as "where there's smoke, there's fire", and
>(c) Sabda -- the Vedas.
>
>Each one of these ways of "knowing" are independently
>valid (svatah prAmANya).  One does not need corroboration
>from another source of information in its sphere of
>influence.
>
>Each way of knowing (pramANa) operates in its own
>sphere of influence.  The Vedas and ancillary scriptures
>are part of the 'adhyAtma SAstra', meant for understanding
>the supra-sensory, such as the nature of the self, the
>nature of God, the nature of consciousness, and the
>relation between all of these.  Obviously, science has
>little bearing in this area.
>
>Similarly, pratyaksha and anumAna (i.e., science) is meant
>to understand the world that we see and live in.  Whatever
>is posited by the Vedas and other scriptures has to agree
>with scientific observation. Sri Ramanuja makes the brilliant
>point that when one's understanding of the Veda disagrees
>with knoweldge obtained through scientific investigation, the
>scientific observation is preferred; the Veda
>must be reinterpreted to fit with the observation.
>Two ways of knowing simply cannot be in conflict.
>This principle, in my opinion, reflects a unique genius,
>and blends the scientific and religious outlooks.
>
>For example, if the Veda says "the moon is made of
>green cheese", but our observations indicate that the
>moon is indeed not made of such a substance, the Veda
>must be reinterpreted to fit our observation.  Perhaps
>the Veda means something symbolically or metaphorically --
>whatever the case, our observation simply cannot be wrong.
>
>Similarly, science simply cannot tell us about God. It
>cannot say anything about whether God exists or doesn't
>exist, or whether God plays a helping hand in creation,
>whether we have free will, whether there is more to life
>than bodily experience, or whether God is the ultimate
>reality.  Science deals only with what we can see, and
>what we can deduce from this observation.
>
>Let's analyze the matter further to answer the present
>question.
>
>Darwin's theory of natural selection is accepted by
>nearly all scientists in some form or another. There are
>some so-called scientists who espouse "scientific"
>creationism, but most of this theory consists of misquotation
>of learned articles and a misunderstanding of the scientific
>record.  Unfortunately, some of this dubious science
>is even propagated by some Vaishnavas today, when before
>it was purely the mainstay of extremist Christians.
>
>Should acceptance of evolution, a scientific fact, in any
>way affect one's beliefs as a Vedantin? Absolutely not.
>There is nothing in our primary shastras that cannot be understood
>in the light of commonly accepted science; after all, these texts
>are meant to inform us about what we *cannot see* or *reason*
>about.  (By primary texts, I mean the Upanishads, Gita,
>and Brahma Sutras. There are countless secondary texts that
>posit illogical and irreconcilable theories of the universe.
>But these secondary texts are just that -- secondary.)
>
>Finally, realize that our tradition in particular is a
>tradition of experience -- anubhavam.  Its foundation does
>not lie in a dogmatic assertion of the creation of the earth
>at a point of time, or some personality's exuberant vision.
>It relies on certain *principle* of life and religious
>experience, which are elucidated by the Upanishads, Gita
>and Sutras, and reaffirmed and experienced by our Alvars.
>These principles neither stand nor fall on the acceptance
>scientific evidence about the world around us.
>
>This is one of those issues where the tradition of Vedanta
>really stands head and shoulders above the others.
>
>rAmanuja dAsan
>Mani
>
>