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Hinduism And Science


StarGazer
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I'm not entirely sure whether this is the best place to put this, but ah well.

 

Obviously every religion likes to boast of their 'Scientific accuracy'. Christianity has done it and we know that it flunks on several scientific rules (Age of the Earth, Bat isn't a Bird, Evolution, etc). Islam also does it and has also fallen short on some points (Sperm coming from the backbone, the moon splitting in half, the Earth being flat, etc.) 

 

But Hinduism is intriguing. There have been a lot of fascinating discussions on Hinduism as a religion that is scientifically accurate, in it's descriptions of the universe being cyclical, of it's age, of Evolution and even of the traditions having scientific reasoning behind them.

 

I'm guessing most of you are Atheists, but I'm sure that there's a Hindu or two on here. So I'd like to hear some thoughts on this. Is Hinduism more scientifically accurate? At least, more-so than the Abrahamic Religions?  

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Even a blind pig...

 

Guesses made under the general umbrella of Hindu mythology are, by chance, more accurate about reality than the Abrahamic versions. Still, they are pretty far off in their timelines and how the gods are running things.

 

http://nirmukta.net/Thread-The-Science-of-Hindu-Cosmology

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There's one Hindu on ex-C, but I think I'm alone so far.  I'm always on the lookout for fellow Hindus who spent time as evangelicals though, unfortunately I thus far have no basis for comparison to my own experience.

 

Anyway, to address your question, what Florduh said is basically correct.  It's somewhat remarkable that Hindu Scriptures predict an age of the universe that is of the same order of magnitude as the age determined from physical measurements.  However, the Hindu cosmology envisions a universe continuously populated by humans, so it has its own share of difficulties.  Many believe that the avatars of Vishnu represent epochs of human evolution, however this is probably something that was retroactively interpreted.

 

Perhaps the more important point here is that unlike evangelical Christians, Hindus at least tend to interpret our Scripture in light of scientific evidence, instead of forcing science to conform to religious belief.  Aside from a few crazies who believe that ancient Indians constructed spacecraft (yes, this is a thing, believe it or not), Hindus accept science.  Quite a few Hindus, including myself, are scientists who actively do research work, whereas one would be hard pressed to find evangelicals in the sciences.

 

Fundamentally I'd say that Hinduism is more scientifically accurate than evangelical Christianity, but purely in terms of scriptural depiction of physical reality it is not accurate on an absolute scale.  But since Hinduism has no concept of literal interpretation of Scripture, nor any central governing authority, nor an absolute reliance on "Scripture alone," this question doesn't entirely make sense in a Hindu context.

 

Hope that helps, and I look forward to reading your comments.

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Are the Hindu Gods and Goddesses used as representations of what you think God looks like, or a literal image?

 

And do you believe the Hindu stories to be literally true, or metaphorical?

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Are the Hindu Gods and Goddesses used as representations of what you think God looks like, or a literal image?

 

And do you believe the Hindu stories to be literally true, or metaphorical?

In Hinduism, the ultimate reality, which is consciousness itself, is called Brahman. It has no attributes. Iswara = Brahman + Maya (badly translated as illusion). That's where the gods live, the world of our everyday experience where we see reality but through a glass, darkly.

 

According to Advaita Vedanta, anyway, they are symbols, not to be taken literally. They are personifications of the underlying philosophy of the Vedas, stories told to give understanding to the common man. Although many Hindus do take the gods literally, the Vedanta makes a good case as to why this literal thinking was not the intent of the sages who wrote about this stuff.

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Well, that's slightly comforting I guess. Though I do recall reading that a Hindu scripture says the Earth is carried on the back of a Turtle?

They don't take their mythology literally. At least not the Vedanta school that I'm familiar with. It's seen as allegorical.

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Are the Hindu Gods and Goddesses used as representations of what you think God looks like, or a literal image?

 

And do you believe the Hindu stories to be literally true, or metaphorical?

In Hinduism, the ultimate reality, which is consciousness itself, is called Brahman. It has no attributes. Iswara = Brahman + Maya (badly translated as illusion). That's where the gods live, the world of our everyday experience where we see reality but through a glass, darkly.

 

According to Advaita Vedanta, anyway, they are symbols, not to be taken literally. They are personifications of the underlying philosophy of the Vedas, stories told to give understanding to the common man. Although many Hindus do take the gods literally, the Vedanta makes a good case as to why this literal thinking was not the intent of the sages who wrote about this stuff.

 

 

Yes this concurs with what I've studied as well.  There are plenty of Hindus who take things "literally," just as there are many Catholics who believes their religion prescribes worship of three gods, for lack of better understanding.  Hindus who are more well-versed in our philosophy interpret most stories with at least some degree of allegory.  While many (maybe most?) believe that Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, the Pandevas, Hanuman, etc. were historical figures, this historicity is not essential to anyone's beliefs.

 

Regarding the turtles, there are multiple contradictory Hindu cosmologies, which suggests that none of them should be taken as literal truth.  But I rather enjoy the comment made in the Rig Veda book 10, hymn 89, verse 7: "He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not."

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Paganism is a little hard to pin down isn't it? 

 

Wiccanism technically counts as Paganism. So there's lots of different branches.

 

But Hinduism is the oldest of the surviving big six (Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism) 

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Bhim, is it true that hinduism is the worlds oldest religion?

 

Hi CeilingCat.  Orbit is correct that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world that is still practiced.  Hindu traditions would state unequivocally that it is the oldest of all religions, since Hindus generally believe that the Vedas are eternal (i.e. their existence effectively precedes the universe itself).  Of course humans have believed in the supernatural since time immemorial.  Would cave paintings depicting various gods be classified as "religious" practice?  If so then I'd say that there are religious beliefs which precede Hinduism in the state that we would recognize it.  However I'm not aware of any formalized religious beliefs that precede Hinduism.

 

Still, the antiquity of Hinduism makes one wonder how anyone (myself included) could ever believe that a long-haired hippie misanthrope from the first century could ever be taken more seriously than all the rishis of ancient India.

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Bhim, is it true that hinduism is the worlds oldest religion?

 

Hi CeilingCat.  Orbit is correct that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world that is still practiced.  Hindu traditions would state unequivocally that it is the oldest of all religions, since Hindus generally believe that the Vedas are eternal (i.e. their existence effectively precedes the universe itself).  Of course humans have believed in the supernatural since time immemorial.  Would cave paintings depicting various gods be classified as "religious" practice?  If so then I'd say that there are religious beliefs which precede Hinduism in the state that we would recognize it.  However I'm not aware of any formalized religious beliefs that precede Hinduism.

 

Still, the antiquity of Hinduism makes one wonder how anyone (myself included) could ever believe that a long-haired hippie misanthrope from the first century could ever be taken more seriously than all the rishis of ancient India.

 

 

Geopolitics, I think.

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Basically, observation of the cyclical processes of nature gave rise to things like the Yuga cycles of time that you're concerned with. It's a matter of extending the observed natural cycles further and further until you come up with the ideas of billions of years long cycles - extending from observed annual cycles, precession, and so on. So extending observation of the known cycles of the world out to logical conclusions that get bigger and bigger, turns out to be 'kind of' similar to what we have discovered with science.

 

And it's not all too shocking when you look at it like this. They weren't stating real concrete facts in terms of the numbers they put to it, but they were able to logically deduce that cycles must get larger and larger, in a general sense. What's true about that is our orbit around the sun. It's orbit about the galactic center, and so on. Natural cycles do generally run out to larger scales, and perhaps the entire universe is cyclic? There are theories on that too.

 

But the ancient Hindu's didn't understand the universe in terms of what modern science has discovered. When people go over board and try to make that claim, it falls apart with the evidence. The numbers don't line up in any concrete factual type of way. And I'll explain why below: 

 

The mythological based sequence of "432" can be projected out to 4,320 - 43,200 - 432,000 - 4,320.000 - 43,200,000 - 432,000,000 - 4,320,000,000............

 

Joseph Campbell noted: 

 

"...It is strange that in our history books the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes should be attributed to Hipparchus, second century BC., when the magic number 432 (which when multiplied by 60 produces 25,920) was already employed in the reckoning of major cycles of time before that century."

 

That's the secret behind the building block of the large Hindu time scales. A reference to the cycle of precession, the time it takes for the earth to make one full circle around it's wobbling axis (25,920 years +/-, symbolized by 432), can then be mythologized outward until the Yuga cycles each occur within a larger cycle, consumed by an even larger cycle. These cycles can grow as big as you care to make them. 

 

There's a book called, "The Holy Science" which tried to restore the precession view of the Yuga cycles, keeping them down to a roughly 24,000 year cycle and the ever growing Yuga's of billions of years are abondoned: http://www.starcenter.com/holy-science.pdf

 

That's a whole different issue in and of itself. It claims that our sun orbits a binary star, as of yet unknown to science. Some people try taking that literally and founded the binary research institute: http://www.binaryresearchinstitute.org/

 

Pseudo science growing out of people trying to take Hindu mythology literally! 

 

Very much like young earth creationist's, some people want to literalize Hindu mythology and folklore and seek to prove that it's true. This is just a fair warning and heads up as to where you might find yourself if you take off trying to compare Hindusim with modern science. You will arrive at the destination of pseudo science. 

 

Heads up......

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quite a few Hindus, including myself, are scientists who actively do research work, whereas one would be hard pressed to find evangelicals in the sciences.

 

What? Ken Ham isn't a scientist? yelrotflmao.gif Just kidding.

 

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your post.

 

Rajesh_Koothrappali.jpg

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