The Idea that Everything in the Universe, including a Human Being is a Soul-less Machine.
As previously mentioned in Part 1, modern science originated in Europe in the 17th century, and ever since that time, the bulk of scientific discoveries have come from pioneering researchers belonging to the nations of the West, which are homes to the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Judaism.
As science has progressed, these researchers have naturally turned to weigh the discoveries of science, against the ideas presented in their own religious texts. And herein some major points of disagreement have arisen, particularly with regards to the origin of the Universe.
For in the Old Testament of the Bible, is recorded the story of Creation, according to which, the entire Universe, from the sun, moon and earth; to plants, animals and humans, was created by God, a supernatural person, in 6 successive days. After thus creating the world, on the 7th day God rested.
Now many adherents of the Christian and Judaic faiths take this story to be literally true (i.e. to mean 6 earth-days), and this is where it runs into substantial problems [also see Footnote]. For when considered literally, this Biblical account is challenged by physicists and biologists on 2 major fronts:
The First is the Problem of Instantaneous Creation. According to the discoveries of physics our universe was not directly born into its present condition. Instead, right after its birth in a big bang some 14 billion years ago, the Universe was inhospitably hot, and from this state it later cooled, till matter appeared and this eventually coalesced into galaxies, stars and planets.
Thus the idea that a supernatural God instantaneously willed the sun, moon and earth into existence, over the span of a few days, does not pass scientific muster, because the cosmos took billions of years to form.
The Second is the Problem of Design. Evolutionary biology has amply demonstrated that life originated first in very simple celled organisms, from where due to natural selection and random genetic mutations it began to branch out into more complex organisms, such that over billions of years, plants, animals and humans appeared.
This evidence of evolution, completely nullifies the idea that the first plants, animals and humans (Adam and Eve), were designed by God and placed on earth, over 6 days.
On account of these two factors, many Western scientists such as Stephen Hawking have rejected the Biblical account of Creation and along with it, dismissed the existence of an outside supernatural God who created the Universe.
For, writes Stephen Hawking in his book, The Grand Design, there is no necessity to bring such a God into the picture, when the laws of matter and evolution, are perfectly sufficient to account for the origins of the Universe as well as explain for a wide variety of natural phenomena.
The Consequences of Expelling the Creator God from the Cosmos
This rejection of the Biblical God of Creation, by Western scientists has resulted in 3 significant outcomes:
The first is that the West is increasingly turning atheist, believing that if the creation story in the Bible is wrong, then the other (most profound) teachings of Christ must be suspect as well.
The second is that not only has the simplistic idea of God as the creator been rejected, but along with it the entire idea of God as a non-material spiritual entity underpinning the cosmos, has also been over-looked. Now this is mainly because of a lack of Western science’s exposure to the deeper concepts of God and soul, particularly those outlined in India’s Vedanta Philosophy, which have been arrived at through rich meditative experiences (more on this in Part 3).
The third is that on account of this total expulsion of God (and hence the soul) from the cosmos, a view has got crystallized in the minds of many (though not all), in the scientific community – that the final reality underpinning the Universe must be material (as opposed to spiritual) in nature. Therefore all processes in the cosmos, including conscious life, must ultimately come under the complete control of matter and its laws.
The immediate implication of this third point, as Rupert Sheldrake explains in his book, The Science Delusion, is that it unfortunately reduces all living organisms, including human beings, to soul-less robotic machines, running on a pre-programmed code.
This ideology, writes Sheldrake, makes “everything essentially mechanical. Dogs for example are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by material activities of the brain.” In other words, “there is no non-mechanical self” such as “I“, “capable of making free choices”, rather every choice is already predetermined in the brain.
So if I for example, suddenly decide to go see a movie – then that choice is actually not something I have made on my own free will, but it has resulted because of some chemical process in my brain.
Now this last point even intuitively does not sound right; and in Part 4 of this series we shall delve into the shortcomings of this approach of making matter as the originator of consciousness.
But for now let us take a brief detour and visit Part 3, to examine the scientific rejection of the existence of God, from the perspective of India’s Vedanta Philosophy.
|Part 3: Vedantic View of God – The Universe Arising from Vibrations of One Consciousness (VIDEO) – While many scientists think that God does not exist; Vedanta Philosophy says just the opposite. According to it, God exists but not as a person. Instead He is the infinite ocean of consciousness.|
Footnote: There are some eminent scientists such as John Lennox, who have argued that the Bible’s account of 6 days cannot be taken literally, and in fact the Bible does allow for evolution. For more see his book: Seven Days That Divide the World.
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