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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

On Spirituality and Science

Oftentimes, educated people are expected to reject the teachings of religion in favor of a rational scientific worldview. Due to recent developments in the study of Quantum Mechanics, many are realizing that perhaps we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps spirituality and science aren't irreconcilable after all...

At the atomic level, then, the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve into patterns of probabilities, and these patterns do not represent probablities, and these patterns do not represent probablities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. Quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole. This, however, is the way in which Eastern mystics have expressed their experience in words which are almost identical with those used by atomic physicists. Here are two examples:

The material object becomes...something different from what we see, not a separate object on the background or in the environment of the rest of nature but as an indivisible part and even in a subtle way an expression of the unity of all that we see.

-S. Aurobindo The Synthesis of Yoga

Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependance and are nothing in themselves.

-Nagarjuna, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism

From The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra

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