Science-Religion Samvad

In India, we can call Science- Religion Dialogue as Science -Religion Samvad. Science and Religion dialogue or samvad belong to the level of apara-vidya ( lower Knowledge or everyday knowledge) in India. But we cannot just limit this vital dialogue the apara-vidya. It can take us to para-vidya (higher Knowledge). To reach there, it will have to die and live beyond. It appears to us for now that we e do not need this dialogue at the para-vidya level. But at the apara-vidya level , it can do marvels to our Society.

Science and Religion Dialogue and Indian Ethos

It is being said that the Vedic narration of creation belong to a time when the boundaries between Religion and Science were not yet born. It is within this hermeneutical horizon perhaps we may be able to find a way of relating Science and Religion. We can find the law of causality embedded in these narratives. This appears even in the Upanisadic tradition that teaches that non-being cannot come from being (nasato vidyate bhavo ) which echoes the principle ex nhilo nhil fit. Creation, then, is placed within the cyclic frame of time against the linear framework of the West. Maybe we have to place this dialogue Science and Religion in the telos or the perennial quest to move from non-being to being, from darkness to light and from death to deathlessness expressed in the Upanisads . Although, both Science and Religion belong to the apara-vidya (lower knowledge), can their confluence result into contemplation (nididhyansana) taking us to the para-vidaya (higher knowledge). Since, Science and Religion belong to apara-vidya, the debate, intellection and discourse between them is considered not very important and can be carried on through hearing (sravana) and intellection (manana). May be because of this Science and Religions were never considered enemies in India. Feud between the two does not fit within the civilizational ethos of India. The feud was thought to belong to apara-vidya and not para-vidya. The telos of Science and Religion dialogue is high and can reach the para-vidya level where there is no discursive knowledge (subject/ object distinction). Paradoxically when one reaches the para-vidya knowledge there is no Science and Religion as well as there is no subject of knowing since the subject attains moksha.

Politics of Knowledge and Science and Religion Dialogue

In a post-colonial India, those knowledge systems that we projected as non-rational and not worthy of being ranked as of any epistemic value are often blindly promoted. These knowledge systems chiefly have their links with Religion. With the end of colonization, often these suppressed knowledge systems are dogmatically promoted without proper scrutinization of the same. Science and Religion dialogue, therefore, might open us to critical ways of standardizing these knowledge systems and thus enrich our society. The value of Science and Religion for India is that it will become a gate-keeper of knowledge production ( among other things) animating a politics of knowledge that will give due credit to all deserving ancient knowledge systems. Today Indian systems of medicine as well as the philosophy and spirituality of consciousness might benefit new thinking in those fields as well as practices of healing . India, thus, can grow holistically and influence the global community by producing a politics of knowledge that is embracive of non-Western knowledge systems. Besides, it might assist in healing our discriminative ways of dealing with women and those considered as lower castes. The production of these new politics of knowledge can be a fruit of Science-Religion Dialogue in India.

Models of Dialogue and Indian Thinkers

Indian thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Raimundo Panikkar, Job Kohzhamthadam, Kuruvilla Pandikattu do provide us models or inspiration to develop models for conducting fruitful Science and Religion dialogue. These thinker promote dialogical approach to dialogue. To them both Science and Religion are independent and are not competing with each other for epistemic power but are in dialogical confluence of mutual complementarity. Swami Vivekananda and inspire model that thinks of two rivers meeting in a common ocean. Science and Religion can thus meet in the ocean of human society and grow together while emancipatively transforming our society. Raimundo Panikkar invites us to take a deep plunge into our presuppositions, assumptions , predispositions which remain cognitively unknown to us but which enable us to know everything. He names it as mythos. It is in the light of mythos that we know everything and express it at the level of understanding or logos. Science and Religion operate at the level of logos but when we enter the mythos of Science or Religion, we can dialogue with the two bringing them together at the level of logos. Thus, Science and Religion, then, can move to enscience Religion and enreligionize Science. Both stand to gain from this dialogue by some. Panikkarian model is explored by me and is called Ferrao method of Science and Religion Dialogue by some. Job Kozhamthadam is mainly responsible for Science and Religion dialogue in India. He has actively promoted this dialogue through books, events and setting up of institutes of dialogue in several places in India. He aligns the growth of Science and Religion dialogue to the growth of human person and sees the rebellion of Science from Religion as its transgressive youthhood. He puts the best of Science together with the best of religion and produces a productive encounter between the two. Kuruvilla Pandikattu sees the coming together of Science and Religion as bringing meaning that is central to our life. Human life without meaning will be impossible. This is why he takes the dialogue at the limits experience like death, AI and transhumanism.

Conclusion

Science and Religion Dialogue does indeed flourishes in India and has many promises to keep. The fact that there is a growing interest in this dialogue also provides great hope for its future progress. The dialogue or smavad between Science and Religion will produce a new vision of God, human and the world.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao