Science and Omniscience

September, 2022 by Vishal Mehta – Team Applied Jainism

Applied Jainism – is a social platform to collaborate & discuss contemporary issues on sustainable co-existence (Parasparopagraho Jīvānām / परस्परोपग्रहो जीवानाम् where the principle of Jain philosophy & spirituality can guide us and become the torch bearer in the modern age. www.appliedjainism.in

In month of August 2022, Applied Jainism collaborated with Professor Shri Narendra Bhandari, a space scientist who has worked with ISRO and NASA and is also the founder of Jain Academy of Scholars and Science and Spirituality Research Institute, Ahmedabad.

We have acquired much knowledge about our universe   over the past five centuries using the scientific methodology of observation, experimentation and logic and applied it for betterment of our day-to-day life. It has made our lives comfortable, healthy, increased longevity and improved awareness of nature   but still some doubt persists whether scientific knowledge is true knowledge or can it lead us to complete knowledge (purna gyan) acquired through meditation as enunciated by the Omniscients.

  • Science and Spirituality – both are trying to find the truth using different methods.
  • Science has so far looked outward, and religion looks inward as well as outward : but both are searching for the truth. Both are thus complementary to each other.
  • Both methods together, allow us to understand any subject with more clarity, confidence  and with sound foundation, without superstition and blind faith.
  • Science without religion is blind, religion without science is lame, said Einstein.
  • If science is the motion, religion is the direction.

There are three distinct approaches to find Truth: Science , Philosophy and Darshan.

Science  progresses  by observing nature, collecting data, systematising it,  constructing  a theory based on logic, verifying it experimentally, and if falsified, go back to collecting more data  and  following the  same loop, till it can not be falsified. Philosophy is observing nature,  followed by mental deductions and constructing a theory; Darshan is what omniscients see during meditation, first purify the body so that there are no physical perversions by penances and  self control and then  purify the mind (attain an emotion-less, attachment-free  state)  so that thoughts are not tainted  by personal interest and then  purify the soul.

Science Philosophy/Darshan
•      Science is systematized knowledge about everything in universe.

•      Science builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

•      Major Branches of Science:-

  1. Natural Science (e.g., biology, chemistry, and physics)
  2. Social Sciences (e.g., economics, psychology, and sociology)
  3. Formal Science (e.g., logic, mathematics, etc.)
  4. Applied Science (engineering, medicine etc.)
Philosophy’s literal meaning is “love of wisdom”. It centers on the intellectual exercise concerned with the nature of reality from human perspective.

It is about making an enquiry into the issues emerging in human life.

(e.g., issues concerned with social, political, moral, religious,

racial, cultural, linguistic and economic spheres, etc.)

Scientists don’t need to know philosophy. Philosophies  are mental constructs and, to be correct, must  be anchored in science.
Science is self-sufficient system. Science is objective in nature. Darshan, what the omniscient (Seers) see, is different from philosophy. It is subjective as well as objective.
Science is progresses out of observations, data, experiments, and theories Philosophy is born out of thinking.
 Science only tells how things work ? So, the scope is limited.

(e.g., How a car works ? How  the universe works ?)

In addition to how, they also try to explain “Why? ”

 

The scope and methodology in the context of knowledge acquisition through Science and Jain Darshan can be summarised as mentioned in table below.

Science Jainism
Scope
Science is objective, reproducible, irrespective of observer Jainism is objective as well as  subjective; depends on  the observer
Methodology
Loop:
Based on observations, Data to information to knowledge, to hypothesis  to experimentation,  to modeling/theorizing, Falsification, modification
Meditation:
·         Purify the body
·         Purify the mind
·         Purify the soul

 

To understand the scope of scientific methodology we compare some basic laws/concepts formulated by scientific approach with those given in scriptures as mentioned in table below.

Jainism Science
Karmavad Causality
Parasparopagraho Jivanam Coexistence, Entanglement, Mach’s Principle
Eternal nature of dravyas Law of conservation
Krambaddha paryaya Determinism (as in classical mechanics)
Purushartha-Free will Probabilistic  (as in quantum mechanics)
Nayavad Complementarity or particle wave duality
Syadvad Limits of knowledge
Saptabhangi: avyaktavyata Indescribability (Quantum mechanics)

 

Jain scriptures contain many  concepts, facts and figures related to physics, biology and mathematics, which have been rediscovered by western scientists recently in the last few centuries. Titius Bode law of planetary distances, Tamaskaya  (Bok Globules) and Krishnaraji (Black holes), climatic cycles and their duration (aara) are clearly stated in Jain  astronomical texts, to quote a few examples. Besides, many concepts of macro world (badar) and microworld (sukshma), like Planck’s length (pradesha), Planck time (Kalanu) are similar in concept. Thus, we come to the conclusion that there is much similarity between scientific knowledge and scriptural knowledge.

Science can possibly be incomplete, but it cannot be wrong because it is based on observations. Even so, we cannot be certain that scientific knowledge can lead us to complete knowledge (purna gyan), and there are, of course, differences between scientific knowledge and keval gyan, because science is objective and logic based where as keval gyan also includes experiential knowledge, knowledge of the self and is both objective as well as subjective.  At Jain Academy of scholars, we have constructed a Jain theory of matter and shrishtivad based on Jain texts etc. which are consistent with modern scientific concepts. An entropy-based definition of life proposed by us recently shows that fluids, gases and solids, and ionic conglomerates and electricity can be considered as alive as stated in Jain scriptures.

Science has so far only investigated material universe, but it does not seem to have limitation of subject matter, as long as the knowledge can be systematised and logically understood.  New logics can be discovered which are applicable to different regimes like classical mechanics is in gross universe, quantum mechanics as in micro-sub-atomic world and new and even more subtle physics may be required for sub quantum regime and spiritual regime.

In Jain philosophy, science is considered as a kind of shrut gyan which is considered as important as keval gyan.  The knowledge of outer world is as important as knowledge of the inner world, and one leads to the other.

In view of the above, we argue that all knowledge must be anchored in science otherwise it becomes blind faith, and we never know whether it is right or wrong. Take the case of the moon. According to the Jain scriptures, humans cannot go to the moon, but we have been there starting with Apollo and Chandrayaan missions.  Many statements related to astronomy (two suns, two moons, etc.) and geography (static, flat earth) are not consistent with observations and therefore, in order to arrive at the truth, it is necessary to put all knowledge on scientific foundation. May not all the way to omniscience, but science can certainly lead us in that direction and help us in establishing truth and get rid of false knowledge (mithyatva).

About Author

vmmehta@gmail.com

Vishal M. Mehta is an engineer by qualification, entrepreneur by profession and pursuing Diploma course in Jainlogy from Mumbai University. He is a co-founder of a research based social sector start-up and a think-tank organisation working on environmental sustainability through ‘techno-social intervention’ for mining ‘social currency’ (alternate / complementary currency) to address India’s obligation towards United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals-2030.

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