The word that represents all that is logical, sensible, and most importantly, can be proven. But today, the word is used to exploit the gullibility of the masses. Advertisers come up with ridiculous claims about their products in the name of science. They like to throw around ‘sciencey’ sounding words that would help the customer make that leap of faith to buying their product. That is the power of science over us.
My friend and I have this constant argument about science vs belief. I argue that science is ultimately, when it comes down to brass tacks, also a matter of faith. Before y’all go postal on me, consider this. Today, when I read a scientific study claiming that dark chocolate reduces cholesterol, at first I am thrilled. Yes! I can do this. All I have to do is eat some yummy ‘80% Cacao’ chocolate and I am sorted. Step 2, the elation is a little dimmed when I see who has sponsored this study. Oh, it is sponsored by the largest cocoa exporter in the world. Finally to completely deflate my elation, I am reminded of the number of studies that have claimed that red wine is great, one alcoholic drink a day is fantastic and all the volte-face that has happened as a result of contradicting study results. So… is science an undeniable reality? or ultimately again, a leap of faith, much like the existence of Krishna, Jesus or Mohammed?
Science therefore is also the data that is true TODAY. Tomorrow, somebody else might have a breakthrough which shatters all past data and comes up with an entirely new paradigm. So from the perspective of the final consumer like you and me, both Science and Religion become a matter of which study or god you chose to believe in and live your life by.
Having said that, the process and intention is wherein lies the difference.
There is a distinct difference between the Religious person and the Spiritual person. To elaborate it in yogic terms, a religious person follows the path of Bhakti yoga. He believes in a certain form of god and follows the tenets that have been laid down to worship that god. A spiritual person is one who follows the path of Gyana Yoga where it is more of an inner quest to understand what is right, wrong, and acceptable instead of believing what is already laid down by somebody else.
The Bhagavad Gita says, the path of the Bhakti Yogi is easier. You surrender and accept what you are told and keep to that path hoping and believing that it will lead you to the truth. Much like the average consumer who is drinking his wine, eating his chocolate and hoping the cholesterol numbers would reduce. The path of the Gyana yogi is a lot more complicated and full of struggles as he tries to understand how his mind, intelligence and ego react to the tumultuous variables around him. Much like a scientist who has to struggle with the variables he is working with, and his efforts to make sense of all the data from the experimenting to see if there is a definitive pattern leading to the truth.
In that sense, a true Scientist( Not the ones who conduct studies for grants and set out to prove a preferred hypothesis) is like a Spiritualist- one who is seeking meaning beyond what is obvious to everyone. The intentions are to seek the truth and to make sense of the world around us. While the scientist is seeking to solve an external question, the spiritualist is seeking to solve an internal question. Both of them refuse to take for granted preset norms, conditions, and refuse to have blind faith and the final destination is the truth as one experiences it.