On the beauty of science
  • A very nice article which I hope resonates with people here.
  • Arun, very nice, who is the author? I love this quote by the one and
    only Carl Sagan -

    Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
    Whence was it born, whence came creation?
    The gods are later than this world's formation;
    Who then can know the origins of the world?
    None knows whence creation arose;
    And whether he has or has not made it;
    He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
    Only he knows- or perhaps he knows not."

    (Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science - By Carl
    Sagan) p. 106 - 137

  • Dear Malathi,
    That's from the Rg Veda, X:129.
    One of the most profound
    statements ever made.
  • Dear Kathy, thank you, for some reason I thought it was Sagan's own,
    perhaps he quoted it.

  • Am not sure Malathi, I think it was stephen hawking.
    That other quote which you gave is even better!
  • Malathy
    Very nice poem from a great writer/thinker. But very much a
    adaptation from the Rig Veda..

    Check out this passage

    "Who knows, and shall declare when and why
    This creation (ever) took place ?
    The gods are subsequent to the production of the world,
    Who, then, can know from whence
    This varied world comes ?
    He, who in highest heaven is Ruler does know :
    But not another can possess that knowledge

    Very profound..
  • Deepa, I looked at the book and Sagan has attributed it to the Rig
    Veda, I did not notice and thought it was him. I am huge admirer of
    the late thinker/scientist and it was a mistake.

    Thank you

  • Thanks for the article, Arun.

    Malathi, the article appeared in the New York Times, written by :
    "Brian Greene, a professor of physics at Columbia, is the author of 'The
    Elegant Universe' and 'The Fabric of the Cosmos'"

    The link attached:


    A sentiment expressed by the author is that science should be communicated
    to students and ordinary people, independent of the technical details.
    There are several popular science books available, but I thoroughly enjoyed
    reading Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". He explains
    in simple and witty english, everything from particle physics and
    paleontology to evolution and astronomy.
    I would strongly recommend this book if you are interested in science and
    history behind various discoveries.
  • Thank you Atpu, I must surely check out this guy's books.
  • Dear SPS Aiyya,
    I have a couple of books which I really like: A History of Mathematics and a
    History of Science ("western science")..
    Both are very elevating to see how scientific discoveries have been built on
    previous contributions.
  • Sandeep, very thought provoking and thank you. I do not in any way
    mean to challenge words of a great/learned person, but am tempted to
    quote Stephen Hawking when he said why does a well organised universe
    need a God?

    Does anyone have any thoughts,

  • If I were to be very blunt, I would say that God is a psychological prop
    that us humans require.
    If I were to be more diplomatic, I would say, I don't know.:)

  • Well,I am not given to any cynicism only what I don't understand and
    what I understand. Never hurts to share the latter though.

    Arun you might want to check out this PBS documentary made by Harvard
    University called The Question of God. It has belivers, agnostics and
    non belivers in a beautifully moderated debate.

    I love the story of the Buddha, when asked 'What is God' replied in
    return 'What do you want to know?'. Our definiton or belief in God is
    impossible to delink from what we believe about ourselves and the
    world, and at some level that is something only we can understand

    Lastly I will admit, I do have difficulties in understanding a
    perfectly ordered universe. I believe *parts* of the universe is
    ordered, and parts are not. Miracles do exist and can happen. How the
    bumble bee flies is a miracle. We cannot understand beyond a certain
    point the workings of how and whether we look at it faith wise or
    scientifically a smaller intelligence can never comprehend a bigger
    one fully and to attempt to do so is basic human arrogance. (That can
    be both religious or athiestic arrogance.:)

  • My point is this.. (with regard to miracles).. anything that we can't
    understand just implies that we haven't yet found the means or ways of
    understanding it, that is the "laws" we have obtained are not perfect or
    complete.. it just means a few years down the road there might be
    modifications to existing laws or new ones discovered which would explain
    the "miracle"..

  • uLan enil uLan, avan uruvam iv-vuruvugaL
    uLan-alan enil , avan aruvam iv-varuvugaL
    uLan ena, ilan ena, ivai guNam udaimaiyin
    uLan iru-thagaimaiyOdu, ozhivilan parandhE
       (Nammazhwar - Thiruvaimozhi)
    If you sayHe exists, He exists,
    If you sayHe does not exist, He does not exist
    And while having this dual character of "existence" and "non-existence" according to the way we see, He isOmni-present (ozhivilan parandhE)

    And this term "ozhivilan parandhE" is very significant in that He is endless and beginningless. But the science, as invented or discovered by humans has its limits on what it can explain. Whether one likes this or not this is the fact.
  • Hi Malathi

    Well, I think for the Universe to exist, there has to be cause and effect
    (which is the Law of Karma).

    God is only a concept to make it simple. However, this origin of things is
    the divinity or with the divinity, in what ever way we choose to term it. To
    know this divinity, we need to have some qualification. A 1st standard kid
    will know the same alphabets that we know but does not yet have ability to
    conceive more than the basic. I suppose in cosmic terms most of us are not
    even in that stage.

    Only an enlightened person can understand what is beyond that. That is why
    such enlightened beings (like Nithyananda, Ramakrishna, Yogananda, Gauthama
    Buddha for example) tell us to meditate, so that we will shed our limited
    knowledge (to which we cling to very strongly, with so called 'scientific'
    proof and fact) that closes the doors and urge us to increase the space
    between thoughts to let the divine in more and more.

    The below 2 videos explain this very elaborately. The 2nd one's audio and
    video are not in sync, so you can just listen to the audio.


  • Nammazhwar okay !

    Where is Triplicane Venaktesar ?

    Adiyen !?


  • SPSSir,

    Adiyenvery much here, following all discussions and learning a lot.
  • -VV and Sandeep, I agree 100% of omnipresence as well as experiencing
    oneness via meditation. Yes there has to be cause and effect but it
    is not 100% cause and effect, in other words sometimes what
    changes 'effect' to be something else (like people getting cured from
    fatal cancer or waking up from coma) also constitutes the universe.
    We do have karma as the most plausible explanation but not the only

    I was in an argument in the Buddhist meditation forum last week where
    a young student called meditative oneness experience as 'chemical
    alternation' and not anything external. In other words if you try to
    resist thinking for a significant period of time your mind gives up
    and generates certain chemicals that make you see th world otherwise,
    that is all there is to it. A lot of meditators got very offended. My
    teacher was telling her 'so what?'. It may be a chemical alteration
    of mind still it allows you to experience something you otherwise
    don't. All human states have some scientific explanation or the
    other. Chemistry and attraction between a man and a woman is
    explained very logically and dryly by several psychologists starting
    with Freud. Does it make it any less attractive?

    My thinking is that science and karmic theories are not formulas that
    take away the wonder, spontaneity and many miracles of the
    universe.They are only attempts at explaining some of it. We
    understand and experience all of them together. AS the the great JK
    said 'You must understand all of life, not just one little part of
    it, that is why you must dance, cry, write poetry, experience pain.
    For all that is life'.

  • VV, am guessing Kaviarasar stole a bit of this when he said 'Deivam
    endraal adhu deivam, verum silai endraal verum silai dhaan,
    undendraal adhu undo, illai endraal adhu illai'!!

  • Who is He? Is it not a She? Well if it was a She, then was it not an
    IT ? If it was an It, was there any shape? If there was a shape is it
    restricted ? If it is not restricted, where is It then?

    Well Malathi, you asked why do we need a God ( appo appo Dasavatharam
    Govind mathiri pesaringa..lol), we dont, yet we do. A guy in remote
    polar circle thinks that there are no cars in the world, it is not
    essentially right. Does he need one - No! Do we need one - Yes! Do
    cars exist - Yes!

    I read some one's note on Chaos theory, that is actually how Karma
    works, you have individual Karma, collective Karma etc. Karma acts on
    pure sequence, not just like 1.2..3...etc, rather as 1,1.1,1.11 so on
    till 2. It is like explaining Jet dynamics to a 1st grader.

    Like I said earlier, i believe, we will be proven our ignorance as the
    universe unfolds itself. All that is to be seen tomorrow, already
    exists. We just use the keyword science to define our new found toys.
    Science is like a pinch of salt on a huge buffet spread standing
    against 1/2 foot stomach.
  • That which gave that organisation is God (I believe).
    It is similar to asking "I am fully functional and independent. Why do I
    need my parents?" The fact is they are already there and if we don't
    realise it, that is our ignorance.
  • -Ravi, I was quoting Stephen Hawking I didn't say that myself!! I was
    only using that quote to say to bundle the world as a scientific or
    karmic formula of any kind is difficult, we can only explain parts as
    karma or by science, either way all those things are tools that are a
    small part of the great unresolved universe that is a wonder.

    To my mind as the Nammazhvar quote beautifully said God is something
    or someone who exists for me, internally. It may not be that way to
    someone else. In other words God is not a person or a physical entity
    to be proven, it is more of an experience that one may seek out or

    2 paise :))

  • Dear Atpu, again the quote/question was not mine - It was the great
    scientist Stephen Hawking :)

    The parental model of God is similar to the white bearded punishment
    oriented authoritatian male God of abrahamic religion who has
    frustrated many people including scientists and thinkers. The model
    of universal energy and oneness that our spiritual heritage has is
    much more tolerant, experiential and accepting than that.

    It is only by facing and asking the challenging questions we need to
    ask ourselves that we learn the value and true meaning of the
    universal spirit, not by avoiding them.

  • THe Hindu model of God is what we see as "The Force" in Star Wars ;)
    That I can deal with!:)
  • Arun,
    Interesting that you say that. You may have seen this before, but for
    the benefit of all I have attached an interview with Star Wars
    creator George Lucas (or was he the director?).

    It is called the Theology of Star Wars. In this he says that the
    movie actually borrowed from various religious mythologies, because
    he believed that the themes are still very relevant.



    I appreciated it was not your quote before sending my reply. In fact
    I thought of addressing it as "Dear Stephen", but refrained from it!
    By the way I liked your statement in one of your previous emails:

    "How the bumble bee flies is a miracle. We cannot understand beyond a
    certain point the workings of how and whether we look at it faith
    wise or scientifically a smaller intelligence can never comprehend a
    bigger one fully and to attempt to do so is basic human arrogance.
    (That can be both religious or athiestic arrogance.:)"


    "It is only by facing and asking the challenging questions we need to
    > > ask ourselves that we learn the value and true meaning of the
    > > universal spirit, not by avoiding them."

    Totally agree.

    Kind Regards,
  • Ravi,

    It is He and not She. Again let mequote Nammazhwar,

    ANallan, peNNallan, allA-aliyum allan,
    kANalum AgAn, uLan-allan, illai-allan
    pENungAl peNum uruvAgum, allanumAm
    kONai peridhuDaitthu em pemmAnaik kURudhalE

    Azhwar goes on to say that He is neither malenor female nor a eunuch. But Wait!!!Azhwarsays "He" is not male?? Then how do we say that the Godis a male? The clue is in thepAsuram itself. Azhwar says "ANallan" "peNNallan" "aliyum allan". Note the "an" vigudhi. This isused only todenote a male.So what is this confusion..... one may ask. Here it goes. He (God) is not a normal male or female or eunuch. But He is the "Omnipotent Male". He is apart from this "prakruthi".He is Purushotthaman.

    Regarding the shape of the God...... Ihave said this before. He presents Himself in whichever form wewish to visualizeHim. I am not elaborating on this as we have already discussedenough on these lines.

    And Karma theory....... a very complicatedone.

    Nammazhwar says " karumamum karuma-palanum Agiya kAraNan". That, God Himself is your Karma and the fruit of it. Thisisa very subtle subject. Yes, Ihave told about thisBommalAttam analogy before. He makes us act (Karma) according to His wish (Sankalpa) for His pleasure (Fruit of Karma). So theboth the act and the fruit as His'. But what we see asours is only dueto the "agnyAnam" that prevails with us.

    And many ofus will not come to terms easily with this as the questionsand doubts that arise will be more to confuse than to clarify.
  • Perfect Atpu,

    It is just like Electricity isin a wire. You feel it when you touch it uninsulated. This insulation is our "agnyAna". While in this worldy logic, the Insulation has to be present,its presence as a metaphor to "agnyAna" has tobe gotten rid ofto experience God.

    And do we need to dosomething to clear this"agnyAna".....

    Nammazhwar saysNo. We neednot do anything. He says

    "isaivitthu ennai, un thALiNaik kIzh irutthum ammAnE" - You make me to surrender before you willingly. Azhwar says that this act of surrender of Azhwar is due to His grace.

    Thirumangai Azhwar asks ".... sollu,nin thAL nayanthiruntha ivaLai, un manatthAl en ninainthirundhAi idaventhai enthai pirAnE" - Tellme what are you thinking to do with this JeevAthma. This proves that the act that a jeevatma doesis not actually that of the Jeevathma but that of God's.
  • Dr Arun,

    Can you please explain how will you deal with it? FYI, I have not seen Star Wars and hence you may want to give a prelude about that character.

    I willreply after seeing your explanation.
  • Ravi,

    I forgot this.Actually the answer for the shape isvery much within the same pAsuram that I have quoted below.

    "pENungAl peNum uruvAgum"...... Means whichever way you(we) think of God He is like that for you (us).

    AndAzhwar goes further tosay "allanumAm!!". Means"someone says Hedoes not exist".See the exclamatory expression "allanumAm".
  • While we are on this subject, below are some quotes of one of the greatest
    scientists - Albert Einstein.

    And, on the subject of astrology, are the astrological
    references/predictions in PS of RRC and RC's birth, birth marks etc factual?
  • SPS Sir,

    Very much yes.Very apt reference. In fact Nammazhwar says that He is presentas the Supreme God in all religions exactly in the same way like the electricity analogy or the pAl-thayir analogy.

    yAvaiyum yevarun thAnAi (It is He whoismanifested into everything and everyone) avar avar samayam thORum (in every Religion in the world thatthe individuals follow)
    thOivilan pulan-aindhukkum solappaDAnuNarvin moorthy. (Hemay not be seen but can be easily felt -- note the word"uNarvin moorthy")
    Avi sEr uyirin-uLLAl, AdhumOr paRRilAdha
    pAvanai adhanaik kUDil, avanayumkUDalAmE (If one can realise the truth that He exists and manifests Himself in every life,thenone can easilyreach Him. Note the word "paRRilAdha pAvanai", denouncing the worldly pleasures)
  • Beautiful!! Also in the Ramayana there is a rishi by name Jabala who
    argues athiesm with Sri Rama himself. Jabala was the original EVR :))
    just kidding but it was not considered unusual even in those days. We
    have to be proud of such a religion that supports so much open
  • Haha malathi... you never know - Jabala his before and after...
  • Search for God is futile, coz where we search we expect God to be
    there, God is there, but our expectation makes it a shield preventing
    us to see.
    With God, you expect the unexpected.
    Science we expect the expected hence it is easier to believe.
    But in reality, when some one starts off discovering something, they
    first believe in the unexpected.

    Namazhvar, navukarasar, arunagiri etc dont give any conclusive
    evidence, coz you just cannot go there and find God.

    PS: Malathi's note on a student considering what meditation does is
    intriguing. To the most part, he is right :-)
    Even people can term the unusual behavior like saintly performance as
  • TIMES OF INDIA (CHENNAI) reported today.

    New Science makes invisible come alive.

    Metagenomics is the study of the genomes - the DNA coes ...

    A Scientific Dilemma...

    only 1% bacteria have ever been studied because just a few can be
    grown in culture dishes...


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