While watching the full moon and remembering Shrii Shrii Anandamurti on this happy night of Ananda Purnima I was also reading John Horgan’s interview with legendary physicist Steven Weinberg who has been a vocal defender of atheism. After that I read Horgan’s interview with Carlo Rovelli and Edward Witten who have made enormous contributions to physics. These three scientists are role models for younger physicists.
It always saddens me to hear the opinions of such intellectual giants on spiritual matters. If you read the quotations from Horgan’s interviews below you will see that these scientists give very intelligent answers on the question of God. It is not easy to disagree with them. But, it is also sad to realize from these interviews that intelligence can be a burden sometimes. In our age some intelligent people find the spiritual dimension of human beings as non-existent or un-interesting? Uber-intelligence can be a burden, indeed!
Ego is usually proportional to intelligence. Unfortunately, as the intelligence grows and the ego grows as a result the intuition diminishes. On this day of Ananda Purnima I wish all scientists more intuition.
Horgan: You once wrote that “sometimes nature seems more beautiful than strictly necessary.” Do you ever doubt your atheism? Do you sympathize with the aggressive stance that some modern scientists have taken against religion?
Weinberg: I don’t entertain serious doubts about the non-existence of the supernatural. I sympathize and agree with some scientists’ anti-religious stance, but I myself have largely given up on such missionary work.
Horgan: Do you agree with philosopher Thomas Nagel that science needs a new paradigm to account for the emergence of life and consciousness in the cosmos?
Rovelli: No. When we do not understand something, people are tempted to think that “some new paradigm” is needed, or a “great mystery” is there. Then we understand it, and all fog dissolves.
Horgan: Do you believe in God?
Rovelli: No. But perhaps I should qualify the answer, because like this it is bit too rude and simplistic. I do not understand what “to believe in God” means. The people that “believe in God” seem like Martians to me. I do not understand them. I suppose this means that I “do not believe in God”. If the question is whether I think that there is a person who has created Heavens and Earth, and responds to our prayers, then definitely my answer is no, with much certainty.
If the question is whether I believe that “God” is a powerful something in the people, which causes a lot of disasters but also a lot of good, then of course I believe it. In fact, I am extremely curious about religion. I think that we should study what is religion much more than what is done. There is a sort of taboo in this, a sort of respect towards people who “believe in God”, which makes it difficult to understand better.
I think that viewing the “belief in God” just as a bunch of silly superstitions is wrong. The “belief in God” is one form of human religious attitude, and human religious attitude is something very general and universal about our functioning. Something which is important for man, and we have not yet understood.
Horgan: Are you religious? Do you think science and religion are compatible?
Witten: I consider scientific explanations to be more interesting and illuminating.
Unwritten rule in science
Explaining something by attributing the cause to God is not an explanation. Those kinds of theories have zero explanatory power. Metaphysical systems have some explanatory power but they cannot predict anything. What separates scientific theories from metaphysical theories is the predictive power. Scientists try their best to find a rational explanation without attributing the cause to God.
The spiritual philosophy has no problem with the methodology of science which is analysis. Spiritual philosophy leaves the discovery of natural laws to the scientists and accepts the scientific explanations but spiritual philosophy is not satisfied with intellectual understanding.
Spiritual practice is about experiencing the Reality and spiritual philosophy is about the methodology leading to that Experience. The methodology of synthesis may lead to that Experience. In the process of forming the synthesis, the spiritual philosopher discovers the concepts that are actually relevant in science. Scientists of this age may or may not recognize the relevance of these concepts but the future scientists will appreciate the concepts of spiritual philosophy. I am sure of that.
On the proof of the existence of God
We can never find a proof of the existence of God. Proof is a mental procedure. The mental realm is a sub-domain of the Cosmic Consciousness. We cannot comprehend God (Reality, Cosmic Consciousness) while staying in the mental realm. We cannot comprehend why Cosmic Consciousness is hidden when seen through the eyes of the ego and why It shines brilliantly when the ego dissolves or becomes more transparent.
In spiritual practice, belief in God is the first step, whereas in analytical philosophy it is treated as the final step. The spiritual seeker feels the love of God, or tastes a glimpse of the infinite wisdom and this sets him on his spiritual journey. The spiritual seeker is trying to go home—home to the source of infinite bliss. And, the spiritual seeker is satisfied with the state of seeking. The feeling of the search is a sort of proof. In the journey, sometimes moments of profound happiness occur. These moments of experience build themselves into the soul’s spiritual knowledge.