Vanity thought #329. Getting on with science

I’m trudging along with “Advancements of Vedic Culture” I mentioned earlier, the initial excitement has worn off. Half way through the book something occurred to me, though, and I’m in two minds about it.

First thing is that the book actually betrays Vedic civilization. There are a couple of places where the underlying attitude shines clear – science is the king, we all came from monkeys, it’s just that ancient Indians were a little better at this than everyone else.

This is a hugely disappointing discovery and I’ve noticed this attitude quite a few times among people who outwardly profess to believe in God. Christians gloss over stories of the Old Testament, Muslims are proud of their medieval scientists, and now it came down to Hinduism, too.

These are reactions of people who don’t have any strong faith, only a faint hope that their beliefs might have some merit in them. These are the reactions of people firmly schooled in materialism and empirical science, people still convinced that the scientific method of learning about the world is absolute and supreme.

The only concession they give to the religion is that there might be something else there, beyond the experience of their material senses, but in no way that experience can overrule what they see with their own eyes, or someone else had seen and taught them about at school.

These are reactions of people who think that the material illusion is real.

Even when they appear to challenge the scientific view of history they still rely on the same empirical evidence and explanations, same kind of reasoning and arguments, and indoctrinate their followers in exactly the same way as scientists.

Christians do it with creationism where they just keep drilling into people that the universe is only seven thousand years old and hope that they would become immune to scientific arguments. I guess they figured out that if it works in politics it would work in religion, too. They do not (and cannot) explain why the science is wrong and their calculations are right, they just hope that if they repeat their lines often enough people will stop thinking about that.

“Advancement in Vedic Culture” is trying to do the same thing with Hinduism. It substitutes self-revealing knowledge passed down through the parampara system with twisting conclusions drawn from results of sensory experiences. It doesn’t say that Krishna lived five thousand years ago because that is what the gurus teach us, it says Krishna lived five thousand years ago because they found some empirical evidence for it.

By doing so it preaches materialism.

The second thing is that I don’t know whether this approach is right or wrong. As devotees we have certain lines drawn for us – that which leads to materialism and impersonalism is wrong, that which leads to developing of devotional service is right. In the big scheme of things both materialism and impersonalism is the philosophical service provided by the Lord for conditioned living souls desiring to forget about Him but, as I discussed yesterday, by accepting this service the living entities deprive themselves of their eternal knowledge and bliss and devotees shouldn’t be callous towards that.

The thing is that I don’t know where books like this, or preaching creationism in the West, lead their readers. I would happily give Stephen Knapp a benefit of doubt in this regard, I hope he knows what he is doing and he has a plan but I also have doubts that he fully realizes the power and the direction of the force he is unleashing, I don’t think anyone does.

He doesn’t present this book as a devotee and he doesn’t sneak in religious ideas, so far he sticks to empirical arguments only, and that is fair to his readers. He also clearly hopes that once the readers develop appreciation for the Vedic culture they will take Vedic scriptures a bit more seriously and start developing actual faith. In this way he increases people’s mode of goodness that is essential for practicing any religion. I hope that works.

On the down side we have a massive nationalistic movement in India that has nothing to do with serving the Lord and gets mentioned in the news mostly for barbaric violence towards Muslims or Christians. These people use Vedic traditions only to prove their own supremacy and I bet they would gulp books like this in one sitting. Who will take responsibility if it inspires someone to burn another train carriage full of people?

This is the danger of getting on with science – we think that we can inject ourselves into the workings of this world and came out clean. We think that we are transcendental and so won’t be affected by the laws of karma but that is not true. The blazing fire of material existence that we are engulfed in right now started with a one little spark of interest.

Alcoholism starts with the first beer and addiction to drugs starts with the first cigarette. No one takes those steps with the goal of becoming a drug addict or an alcoholic, it just happens, and so dabbling in science has all the potential to produce very very undesirable results.

Our life is short, we shouldn’t be spending it on dangerous things unless absolutely necessary, we should be very careful pouring our enthusiasm into clearly materialistic activities.

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