Science and Hinduism Do Not Require Faith

The Friendly Atheist reposted something they had written about the conversation between atheist Ricky Gervais and Catholic Stephen Colbert. It was my first time seeing it and it really struck a chord for me. In particular I’ve always struggled with how to explain that science is not a form of faith to people who say, “Oh atheists have just traded faith in God for faith in science.”

Ricky Gervais explains it exactly:

“And then, when told that his belief in science was also a kind of faith, Gervais pushed back with this lovely monologue:

GERVAIS: … Science is constantly proved all the time. You see, if we take something like any fiction, any holy book… and destroyed it, in a thousand years’ time, that wouldn’t come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book, and every fact, and destroyed them all, in a thousand years they’d all be back, because all the same tests would [produce] the same result.

COLBERT: That’s good. That’s really good.

GERVAIS: So I don’t need faith in science. I don’t need faith to know that, probably, if I jump out of a window, every other time somebody jumps out of the window, they smash to the ground because of this thing called gravity.

The Friendly Atheist

This is exactly why religion and science are not in conflict. Science is nothing more than observing what actually happens in the world and theorizing about why and then testing those theories. It does not depend on anyone’s faith to exist.

In a way the same is true of Hinduism.

 

 

Now, Hinduism does have its fair share of mysticism and devotional practices but I really think at its heart it is more scientific than any other religion on earth. The original sages thousands and thousands of years ago examined what they observed in the world, in their bodies, and in their minds. They developed theories about how to harmonize all those things and live a happier life. Hinduism is the passed down wisdom of those observers of the human experience and many others who have come along since.

If the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita were destroyed and everyone completely forgot them, I do really believe that they would come back. Perhaps not word for word, but all the ideas, all the philosophy, all the suggestions on living a happier and better life: all those things exist independently of our observation of them. All those things are true with or without our “faith” in them. 

This is why I think Hinduism can never be destroyed. Not that I don’t work to defend it because it is awesome and, in my humble opinion, the best philosophy on how to live. But all Hinduism is is giving language to explain Truth, universal Truth that is accessible to anyone who dives into their mind and pursues Truth with determination.

New to this blog? Check out these posts:

What Makes Me A Hindu?

Did I Start Out Christian?

Why Am I Called “The White Hindu”?

New to Hinduism? Learn more here:

Hinduism 101: What Do Hindus Believe?

Can I Convert To Hinduism?

Your First Visit To A Hindu Temple

Super Simple Daily Puja

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • ash

    If science proved the same results everytime, we would still be using text books from th 10 century. Science is constantly changing.
    It used to be a scientific fact the earth was centre of the universe, that the sound barrier could not be broken etc.

  • Donald M

    This is a fascinating point! I agree that both scientific knowledge of the physical creation and spiritual knowledge of the essential nature of us all would indeed be retrieved from our own observations and experiences if somehow they were “lost”. It seems to me that at least the mystical vedantic aspects of Hinduism are based on personal experience and experimentation. This has been described beautifully in the book “Yoga Enlightenment and Perfection” about a young Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha’s enlightenment. To Ash’s point, both require building models, questioning them with experimentation, and building new better models. Being afraid to destroy the old model gets us in trouble. The truth about the physical and spiritual aspects of us don’t change, but our understanding of them both improves as long as we are open to changing our views.

  • PurpleGiraffe

    True Hinduism as well as science are discovered in some Upanishads.The first Upanishad–Ishavasya is a declaration scientific truth.The verse–Ishavasyam idam sarvam— itself is the one which encapsulates reality.It means Everything that moves and does not in this ever changing universe is enveloped by energy( Isha is not God,it means energy but we have termed it God in all religions).

  • aam
  • SuperBC10 .

    The problem is with Gervais – as with many other atheists, is that they are very ignorant about Hinduism. I heard Gervais arrogantly explaining away Hinduism and throwing it in with what we in the West know about organised religions. Organised religions were originally created for the simple purpose of controlling people, much in the same way as atheism is being used these days. They are simple propaganda machines. Gervais clearly has zero insight into Hinduism and has tarred it with the same brush as the so called Christianity/Islam/Judaism religions we have all been subjected to. Misinformed? No, just ignorant and lazy and above all, uses his “atheism” as a free pass to do anything he wants without recourse to any effect he may cause.

  • S Kr

    Yes, you are right.
    In fact, we already see an example of this in the modern world. 2000 and ~1400 years ago, Christianity and then Islam, respectively, went on a path destroying “pagan” faiths which were rooted in nature-worship, self-contemplation, worship of divine feminine, mother earth, and so on. Many native civilizations were wiped out (and a few like Hinduism survived in a mutilated and suppressed form).

    But today, we see a resurgence in the very same philosophies, with people moving more and more towards meditation, being pro-nature (e.g. focus on greenery, vegetarianism, etc), polytheism/poly-culturalism, renewed focus on feminine, and so on. So, ancient pagan practices (which Hinduism is very much) are being readopted once the fear of punishment of Christianity/Islam are removed.
    Christianity and Islam have been artificial constructs, keeping people in check through brainwashing of eternal hell from childhood, or imposition of blasphemy laws harshly.

    So, yes, even after ancient practices were mutilated and suppressed for a 1000 years, the fact that more and more people are adopting them now very much shows that Hinduism is a scientific religion, or to put it another way, it is the natural outcome if you let people make free choices about their philosophy.