B) The challenges to Hinduism from secularisation & science


Hinduism's acceptance of scientific advancements (Vedic literature)

  • Some scholars have found parallels between the process of creation (in Vedas and Puranas) and scientific understanding of the origins of the universe (particularly Big Bang Theory)
  • They have also found a parallel between the doctrine of descent (Vishnu's avatars) and the scientific theory of evolution. They describe 'the successive appearance of higher life forms on this planet' (Choudhury)
  • Hindu environmentalism: Brahman is present throughout the created universe, therefore every element should be treated with reverence and respect
  • 'Law of karma' (Vedantic tradition) is similar to the rules of action and reaction in Newton's law
  • Hinduism has no centralised ecclesiastical authority- impossible to get an official position
  • Hinduism is metaphysical- science is not and does not accept any divine or 'outside the system' source
  • Hinduism says science is not wrong, but offers a limited view of reality (until science opens itself to the exploration of metaphysical reality, it will remain incapable of understanding the full nature of reality)

Diversity of views

  • Conservative Hindus: accept the Vedas as direct revelation of God, therefore inerrant. Whatever the Vedas says must be accepted. This is religious fundamentalism.
  • Religious liberalism: Hindus who admit the Vedas are spiritual but not infallible. Parts that contradict science/ reason can be rejected.
  • Hindus who accept the Vedas as divine revelation, but think it is not free of errors (as it was written and interpreted by flawed humans). They believe that the parts that are incompatible with reason/ science are not to be rejected, but instead reinterpreted

Samkhya yoga

  • 'Samkhya' means counting/ analysis
  • In the Bhagavad Gita, there is a simple form of analysis that classifies matter into 8 elements; earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence and ego
  • From the perspective of the Bhagavad Gita, it's fair to say modern science is simply a highly detailed analysis of matter (no conflict between BG and science?)
  • Vedic 'science' also includes the analysis of soul and God (metaphysical reality)

Hindu rishis

  • Aryabhatta: famous Indian mathematician…


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