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Realization Of The Supreme Lord As A Person II

Regarding the origin of life, Dr. TD Singh wrote that this material paradigm of life is not making much headway in an attempt to create life from a mixture of complex bio-molecules. It should be noted that if life is a product of complex molecular reactions, at this stage of scientific advancement a bio-chemist should be able to produce life in the laboratory. Since all the complex biomolecules such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, etc. can be easily isolated; one does not need to start from small molecules. An honest person can see that a DNA molecule is not life and an enzyme or carbohydrate is not life. Material life has a physical body which is made up of (1) complex molecules, (2) mind and intelligence, and (3) a spiritual life particle called atman (soul). The body is animated by the presence of the atman. Atman (life) is not made up of molecules. Rather it is beyond molecules. The body is meaningful so long as the atman is within the body.

Dr. TD Singh also quotes Prof. Arber who says, “The most primitive cell may require at least several hundred different specific biological macro-molecules. How such an already quite complex structure may have come together remains a mystery to me. The possibility of the existence of a creator, or God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem.”

The above expressions of Dr. TD Singh are not parts of the dialogue. But the interactions found in their dialogue are more or less the same which he has already expressed in his article.

Dr. TD Singh – cited the Vedantic perspective and said, “It is mentioned in our Vedantic literature that this world was created by the Lord in order to fulfill the desires of the living entities who wished to have material pleasure. However, there is a divine plan behind this whole manifestation – it is designed in such a manner that a living being can elevate his consciousness and revive his love of God while experiencing this world. Moreover, the importance of human life is emphasized because consciousness and free will are more fully developed in the human form of life than in any other form of life.”

TDS further asked WDP to elaborately explain his conception that God is a person as against the conception of Einstein’s who believes that God is impersonal. WDP said that when Einstein talked about God in a casual way, he talked about God in a very personal way, but when he was writing intellectually about the mysterious, he insisted that God is not personal. Einstein said he was surprised by the way in which nature worked, and sometimes he said something like, “I wonder what the old man is thinking” referring to God. “This is not an impersonal way of talking about God. Certainly people like myself and Charles Townes will be firm in saying that God is very personal.” Maybe Einstein did not fully admit to himself the way he felt about God or he did keep thoughts a little hidden. But his is a monistic conception.

In Vedic tradition, three aspects of God viz. the impersonal or universal pervasiveness, called Brahman aspect of God (in Sanskrit), the Paramatma or localized and in-dwelling personal aspect of God who guides each living being from within and the third aspect is Bhagavan, meaning the Supreme Person, the personal aspect of the Lord – the Supreme Personality of God. DTS illustrates this with a metaphor. The President sitting in the white House, but his power or impersonal energy is spread throughout the country, and the Paramatma or the Supersoul is guiding the individual being in a personal way. Most scientists, said by DTS, are influenced by the impersonal concept of God due to misconceptions about the nature of the personal aspect of God being steeped in pantheism or anthropomorphism. From the Vedantic perspective, the Personal aspect of God is most important. This does not imply that the concept is anthropomorphic. It is not that a human shape or anything is given whimsically. Rather it is the revelation of God Himself to those self-realized transcendentalists. A divine maxim is found in the Srimad Bhagavatam that the cause exists certainly in its effect as well. Since we all experience very clearly that all developed living beings have individual personalities, it is certainly conceivable that the Supreme source of all must also possess personality. In this regard, the similarity between Vaishnavism and Christianity is very striking.

WDP’s impression is that the idea of a personal God is a very conventional viewpoint, whether one is a Christian or a Hindu, or belonging to many of the world’s great religions. People often think about the Divine presence as being very personal. But generally this question often arises: What about scientists? Do scientists take more to Einstein’s point of view, or are scientists more traditional? There are scientists who claim that they are atheists and there are scientists who believe in Einstein’s God, and there are scientists who will say they believe in a personal God. But, he thinks that there is a misconception that scientists tend not to have the kind of beliefs that they have been talking about. In fact, there are plenty of scientists like himself (William D. Phillips) and Charles Townes who believe in a personal God. This is what WDP viewed in the dialogue.

WDP said it is a mistake to believe that in general scientists do not have these kinds of beliefs. His church has many scientists who have traditional religious faith. He told a story. When his daughter went to high school, she met many new friends, and one of her new friends told her, “My mother is a scientist, so of course she is an atheist,” and his daughter told her friend, “Well if you went to my Church, you wouldn’t be able to walk across the fellowship hall after the worship service without running into half a dozen physicists.” So, he told that he knows many scientists who have very traditional, conventional religious views.

There are Jewish scientists who are traditional in the religious faith. Through the science and spiritual quest research program, he also met Buddhists and Hindus and other scientists who are very traditional. He knows scientists of the many of the faiths of the world who are very traditional in their religious beliefs. He wishes that there is no contradiction between being a serious scientist and being a person who is serious about religious faith.

Dr. Phillips said that, “…the popular notion that  scientists are naturally going to be atheists is simply wrong, and is known to be wrong by almost anybody who has experience of knowing enough scientists…”

As mentioned already in the earlier article on the theme, most of the scientists who changed the course of humanity and made profound contributions to shape the world view had some conception of God. There is below a small sample.

Copernicus (1473-1543), Kepler (1571-1630), Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Newton (1642-1727), Faraday (1791-1867), Mendel (1822-1884), Pasteur (1822-1895), B Riemann (1826-1866), Maxwell (1831-1879), Mendeleev (1834-1907), Plank (1858-1947), Einstein (1879-1955), Max Born (1882-1970), Ramanujan (1887-1920), Heisenberg (1901-1976).

To continue their dialogue further TDS a little more about the Vedantic tradition by saying that there is a clear distinction between the spiritual and the material. These are called paravidya, meaning higher knowledge and aparavidya, which means the lower form of knowledge. Scientific study of apara-vidya is to lead ultimately to para-vidya. Scientific study of matter is apara-vidya, whereas knowledge of the science of God is para-vidya. The lower form of knowledge should lead to the understanding of the existence of higher knowledge, para-vidya. It is just like what Max Born said, “I saw in it (the atom) the key to the deepest secret of nature, and it revealed to me the greatness of creation and the Creator.” In the Vedantic tradition the domains are clear and we are not much concerned about conflict which is apparent.

WDP thinks the conflict is something that makes for good press-interesting stories – but in fact it is not in the mainstream of thought. Even among people of religious faiths or among scientists in the United States, the conflict model represents only a small fraction of either the scientists or people of religious faith. He thinks that majority of the people do not see this as being a problem. Certainly most of the people he encounters in the Church or in the scientific world do not see that as being a problem. The problem comes when the people of religious faith have a misconception that all scientists are atheists and materialists and they have no connection to spiritual thinking. Or, scientists who believe that all people of religious faith are fools because they believe in things that are manifestly not true. So, he thinks that only a few people on either side have this kind of belief. TDS said in relation to the concept of God that many scientists today express that the universe is fine-tuned. But Prof. Townes said that the universe is very special: “If the mass of the electrons were slightly a different value, the universe would have been quite different than what we have today.” This is also called the anthropic principle. TDS asked to comment on this view.

WDP said that this subject is very popular these days. He said, “When I look at that sort of situation, the one that Townes has described and a lot of other people have talked about, it certainly seems to me that when you see how fine-tuned the universe is, that it is a natural conclusion to conclude this was a universe that was designed so that life might develop, so that it would have the potential for all sorts of wonderful things to happen. In fact, I believe that is the case. I believe the universe was designed in terms of the fundamental constants, that things were put into the universe when it was created and the Creator gave us a universe that had the potential to produce creatures like us. Why? Why would our Creator have given the universe the potential for creatures like us to develop? I believe it’s because God wanted to have personal relationships. This goes back to the idea of believing in a personal God. Not just God as a personality, but that God wants to have personal relationships with the creatures of the universe. This is my belief.” At the same time, he wants to be very careful to say that he doesn’t believe that this understanding of the special nature of the universe is in any way a proof of the existence of God. It is easy to come up with other explanations why the universe is the way it is. You take the modern theories of cosmology and the inflationary universe, and many of the theories provide for their being multiple copies of the universe, which may or may not have different values of fundamental constants. He doesn’t know if these theories are correct or not, but they are certainly reasonable. According to these theories, there may be a near-infinite number of other universes that have different values of fundamental constants in which there are no people, or in which there are not even any galaxies because the universe had to be fine-tuned simply, to produce stars and galaxies. The apparently special creation that produced a universe that is as fine-tuned as ours may simply be an illusion, because, of course, we must live in a universe that supports life. Sometimes people talk about the anthropic principle as simply expressing that the reason why the values of the fundamental constants are what they are is simply because if they weren’t, we simply wouldn’t have been here to ask the question. It says nothing about God. While for me, I certainly believe that that is the reason why things are the way they are, I have to recognize that it does not constitute a proof—I think that a belief in God is a matter of faith, not a matter of scientific proof. And that is why we call it religious faith. I don’t believe there is a scientist who can come up with a way, on scientific grounds, of convincing somebody who does not want to be convinced.

To this view, TDS expressed that a thoughtful person especially a scientist can develop a genuine faith in God from the observation of the cosmic laboratory. Regarding that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, people who have faith in God have faith in the teachings of scriptures and saintly scholars. Charles Townes often points out that faith is common for both science and religion.

WDP reacted that even if scientists don’t have religious faith, they must have scientific faith. For that, Einstein was very clear about this. He said that we make the assumption that the universe is ordered as a matter of faith. We couldn’t do science if we didn’t believe that the universe had an order—we couldn’t be scientists. On the other hand, we confirm that faith in science with the orderliness of the universe when we see that things consistently come out to the same.

He told his own experience while he visited some old temples and pyramids, and museums in Moscow and learned about some of the ancient people there. He learned as he was told that those ancient people did not have any confidence that the universe would continue to be the way it has always been. In other words, simply the fact that the sun had come up every morning in their experience, did not give them confidence that it was going to continue to do so. As a result, they had to continually perform religious acts in order to ensure that the sun would come up. Today, their scientific understanding of this is their understanding of the laws of nature. They know that the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning because they understood the nature of physical law and they believe in a law of consistency. It is also a religious principle. The religious principle is that God is faithful; God will continue to provide them in the way that He has provided for them in the past. That faithfulness, that unchangeability of God is a belief that is related to the scientific idea of the consistency of physical laws. Now, of course one can believe in the consistency of physical laws without believing in God, but as a religious person he believes in God’s faithfulness, and as a scientific person he believes in the consistency of physical law. He believes there is connection between the two (science and religion).

TDS commented that WDP’s point on the personal connection or personal relationship with God seems very significant. This is emphasized in the Vedantic tradition called Bhakti. Bhakti means a loving devotional relationship with God and it is the highest attainment in realizing God—it is not only the end but it is also the means. Subsequently, if there is a personal relationship of this level then one will know about the meaning and purpose of life, why we are here, why God has created us and given us special blessings. He wants us to have a personal relationship.

WDP did support the view and he thought that is exactly what God wants from us, he thought that God wants from us is to have a personal relationship with each other. That is why all are here. Maybe John put it better when he said, “As creatures of God our job is to have good relationship with other creatures of God, with each other.” So, WDP fully agreed with TDS. He thought that the relationship God wants us to have with Him is a kind of model.

At that time, TDS asked whether WDP had experiences involving some kind of creativity, inspiration or divine guidance while he was growing up in life, in high school or college and as a scientist.

He told that he didn’t have the creativity that someone like Charlie Townes had. To that extent, he didn’t think he has been very creative. But he worked really hard. In the case of Charlie’s concepts, his getting a flash of insight that one could use stimulated emission to make a new source of radiation. He guesses he had never felt that kind of thing. His is that he worked really hard and tried to be open to what nature or God is telling us. He narrated a story. Some people went to see the scientist, Joseph Henry. They wanted him to be the head of an institution. They went to see him while he was embarking on an experiment in his laboratory. The scientist gathered them together to perform an experiment and he (scientist) said, “What we are doing, when we are doing an experiment, is asking God questions, and now what we are going to do is we are going to pray that we will be able to understand the answer.”

So, WDP thought that God has given him the great gift that a few times he has been able to see what God is trying to tell him. But, in the case of Charlie, God has given him an idea, an insight that allowed him to know what was the right way to go. For WDP, he got lots of different ideas. He tried each one of them, and sometimes they work out. That is the way it is. People have different styles. He thinks that God uses the people in different ways according to their abilities; maybe just according to different ways that God sees that it will be useful for them to explore the universe. It is all very different.

TDS was interested to know that Dr. Phillips was doing that because God wants him to do it in that way. He agreed and believed that exploring the universe is a holy calling for a scientist or a transcendentalist or for one creating art, music and literature. He cited an example that God has given him gifts so far beyond the gifts that most of the scientists were given, as a result Einstein saw such things that he can’t imagine how he would have been to see. So, he thinks of himself as being much more of a workman in the kinds of things that he does than somebody like Einstein or Charles Townes.

TDS said that creativity has some kind of connection with the mental state of the individual. When a person is in a happy state of mind, he is prepared to receive the gift of creativity from God. But if he becomes angry or upset, then creative or useful ideas won’t come.

He quotes an important passage in the Bhagavad-Gita:“tesam satata yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te.”

Meaning: “To the degree that one surrenders, the Lord gifts the knowledge so that one can have a personal devotional relationship with God.” Thus the gifts from God come to different individuals in different degrees.

WDP while agreeing, he believes so strongly that relationship or the company of other people is so important, because it just seems that all good things that have happened to him have been a result of relationships.

TDP observed that openness or willingness has become much more visible after 9/11 to discuss particularly among the scientists who are becoming very open-minded today. Many scientists are now more interested in knowing why people are fighting each other in the name of religion and God.

While reacting WDP agreed that being open-minded is an important thing and the scientists try to be open to new ideas as part of their training. Openness is also extending the ideas of faith, to ideas of other non-scientific areas. Regarding his involvement in the Church and its contribution to his scientific ideas, WDP said it is indirectly helping him in making a good platform for having a happy life. He agreed to what Dr. TD Singh has said that if he has got a happy life then it is more likely that he is going to have more creative power than what would otherwise be the case. He said that Church aids to his personal well-being, and certainly it helps him to be a better person and he thinks a better person can be a better scientist…. the understanding he have about the way one ought to live—an understanding of what he believes God wants for them; this is something that carries over into the way he does his work, and he thinks it should be for every person of faith. Their faith, their religious moral principles, should be things that affect the way they do their work.

He said that we should love our neighbors, we should love our enemies, and we should be kind to everybody. He is grounded in his religious faith, his being part of the Church helps to guide him to do the right thing.

The idea of laser cooling

Dr. TD Singh appreciated Dr. Phillip’s qualities of humility and his dependence on God, and requested him to explain a little bit in the area of the laser cooling of atoms. Prof William D Phillips has been a leading researcher in the field of laser cooling of atoms at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Maryland, and he was awarded Nobel Prize in Physics for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser, in 1997.

So, Prof William D Phillips explained that the idea of laser cooling is that we have a gas of atoms or molecules. The air is one example; it is mostly molecules but there are some atoms. One of the characteristics of a gas is that the atoms and molecules that make up the gas are moving around very fast. What we do in laser cooling is to shine laser light onto a gas of atoms and we make the atoms slow down in their motion. Making them slow down is the same as making the gas colder. To have hot gas, it means that the atoms that make up that gas are moving faster than the same gas if it were cold. So slowing down the motions of the atoms in gas is the same as cooling. That is what they do in laser cooling.

Now, how they do that? Well, they make the light push on the atoms. For a little more than a hundred years, people have known that light pushes on things and they suspected that it was true for even longer. For example, comet tails. Since the time of Kepler, at least people have known that the tails of comets always point away from the sun. One of the reasons for that is the sunlight pushes on the dust and gas that make up the comet, creating the tail so that it is always pointing away from the sun. There is also a solar wind that pushes, but the point is that light can push on things. So what they do is they arrange to have laser light push on atoms in such a way as to make them slow down. When they slow down, then the gas will be colder. That is, in a nutshell, how laser cooling works. They use the force that light can exert in atoms to push on them so as to make them slow down.

Applications:

They have been able to use laser-cooled atoms to make better clocks. This is one of the present applications. So today, the best clocks that people have are made with laser-cooled atoms, using the kind of techniques that they have developed in their laboratory – and that other people in other laboratories have developed. (They are not the only ones contributing with development of laser cooling, said by Prof William D Phillips, the Nobel laureate and pioneer of Laser Cooling of Atoms). By using these techniques people have been able to make the very best atomic clocks. What they mean by the ‘second’ is defined today by instruments that use laser-cooled atoms. Time is a very important thing in this modern society. High-speed communications that are synchronous require a very precise timing. Navigation using the Global Positioning System (GPS) requires very precise timing. They will be expecting all these things to be improved in the future by making better clocks, and in particular, clocks that use laser-cooled atoms. So, Prof William Phillips says there is an example that is already happening today. Standard laboratories in the U.S. and in the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere are all using laser cooling to make their time scales.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (SB), which has been available in written form for more than 5000 years, there is a chapter (SB 3.11.4), entitled “Calculation of Time from the Atom.” In it, it is explained that time is measured by the movement or vibration of the atoms. The similarity in concept is very striking. To this, Prof William Phillips was requested to explain how he measures time with laser-cooled atoms. He said, that is exactly correct – it is based on what some people might call the vibration of the atoms. Atoms have energy levels, that is, they exist in certain discreet energy states and they cannot exist in states in between those energy states. One defines time according to the atomic vibrations, and he used the word “vibrations” loosely, of a cesium atom – vibrations of a particular kind.

Calculation of Time from the Atom:

sa kalah paramanur vai

yo bhunkte paramanutam

sato ’visesa-bhug yas tu

sa kalah paramo mahan

(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.11.4)

Measuring time using “vibrations” of atoms – this is the principle behind today’s advanced atoms clocks. Surprisingly, the similar concept has been presented in the ancient Vedantic text (Srimad Bhagavatam) – as per the above quoted one

Srimad Bhagavatam has been available in written form for more than 5000 years. There is a complete chapter entitled “Calculation of Time from the Atom” in this miraculous literature.

The basic principle involved is very simple. The atomic orbits correspond to energy levels, and electrons can only move between energy levels when they absorb or release just the right amount of energy. This energy is absorbed or released in the form of electromagnetic radiation. It is the exact frequency of this electromagnetic radiation required to make the transition of electron between the two energy levels which determine the measure of time. Thus, today, the second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.

These spins can be aligned in the same direction or they can be aligned in the opposite direction. Now it takes energy to go from one to the other. Because of the magnetic field between them, to turn the spin of the electron requires that you either put in energy or take it out. That energy can be put in or taken out by shining microwaves onto the atom. In order to make the transition from one spin state to the other, you have to shine microwaves that have a very specific frequency. It is that frequency that becomes the ticking of the atomic clock. That frequency is a very specific number, 9.18 and a whole bunch of other digits, billions of cycles per second, GHz. When you shine exactly the right microwave frequency, you can make the cesium atom shift from one energy level to the other, and that frequency is what we use to keep time. We adjust our microwave frequency until it is just right to make that flip, and then you have a clock ticking at a certain nine and some giga-cycles per second, and that is our clock. But that was a choice that we made because it seemed like a good choice; it seemed like a very stable way of doing it. Before atomic clocks, we made other choices—the rotation of the Earth was the original definition for the second. We say the day is divided into a certain number of seconds—24 hours X 60 minutes per hour X 60 seconds per minute. That came to 86,400 seconds in a day—that was the definition of the Second. But people figured out it weren’t a very good definition since the Earth is slowing down. It does not provide a completely stable definition of time. So people thought about other ways and eventually the atomic definition of time became by international agreement, the way in which we define time. It might be that in the future we will come up with a different definition of time that is more precise and more capable of doing the things that we need to do, but for  the moment this definition is working very well and we are using it to do all the things we need to do.

TDS then said that in the Vedic tradition, time is regarded as the impersonal aspect of God. Within the current cosmological Big Bang model, time is understood differently than it is in our tradition. In the Big Bang model, time begins just after the Big Bang, whereas in the Vedic tradition time is eternal.

Prof William D Phillips having agreed that there is the difference, said that we understand from the point of view of cosmology, that time does not have meaning before the Big Bang. He further said that early Christian scholars also said God created time when He created the universe.

TDS commented that time and space are connected. WDP also agreed and said it is one of the things that Einstein taught them, that time and space are interconnected, that we can’t really separate time and space. That is a concept that they are still having a hard time understanding.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

Prof William D Phillips explained the following. We are affected by things like the Global Positioning System (GPS).

What is GPS? Originally developed by the US Department of Defense to provide all-weather round-the-clock navigation capabilities for military ground, sea, and air forces, GPS has also become an integral asset in numerous civilian applications and industries around the globe. GPS employs 24 spacecraft in 20,200 km circular orbits inclined at 55 degrees. These spacecraft are placed in 6 orbit planes with four operational satellites in each plane. GPS satellites transmit signals to equipment on the ground and the GPS receivers on ground convert the satellite’s signals into position, velocity, and time estimates for navigation, positioning, time dissemination, or geodesy. GPS technology made a huge impact on navigation and positioning needs and it has become possible to track aircrafts, cars, cell phones, boats and even individuals. Today, GPS is finding its way into cars, boats, planes, construction equipment, moviemaking gear, farm machinery, and even laptop computers.

It is already a part of day-to-day life. If somebody delivers a package to you, he may use GPS to find your address. The pilots use the GPS to navigate that airplane. So atomic clocks are already being used in things that do affect your life. Laser-cooled atomic clocks are the best atomic clocks. They are used in the synchronization of the GPS and also in satellites. There is a constellation of satellites each of which contains several atomic clocks. The satellites send information about the time, and with a GPS receiver you can receive these signals from several of these satellites and determine where you are anywhere on the surface of the earth. The atomic clocks in the satellites are not yet laser-cooled atomic clocks, but they are guided by a time system that uses laser-cooled atomic clocks. Then atomic clocks may be laser-cooled in the future. Charles Townes and his colleagues have invented the Laser, and for a while some people said that laser is a solution in search of a problem. But today nobody would say that, mainly because most of us have multiple lasers in our houses. In computer with a CD-ROM, there are lasers used in the reading and writing of the CD. In a telephone, often the voice transmission or data communication is done by fiber optics, which uses lasers to transmit information. So the invention of the laser has affected the daily lives in a way that is evident to people. Lasers are in our homes. But, it is not certain if anybody will use laser-cooled things in their homes in the future. But nowadays, a computer is in your microwave oven, a computer is in your washing machine, a computer is in your car. All these are computers that you may not even think about, in addition to the laptop or desktop computers that we have. But, at the moment, he could not see it, though some of these things would turn out to be household items in future that you never know.

Regarding the young scholars to a career in science, Prof William D Phillips said that they must maintain the childlike curiosity, as all of them start off with a tremendous amount of curiosity as children. Dr TD Singh supplemented by saying the meaning of the Vedanta. Veda means knowledge, and anta means end. Vedanta is the Hindu concept of the ultimate knowledge and ultimate reality. The first aphorism of Vedanta says, in Sanskrit, athato brahma jijnasa—meaning, one must be curious to search about the nature of the absolute truth. So, it is very very similar to what Dr Phillips said about curiosity being the most important thing that a scientist can have. Regarding the saying by Roger Penrose, “in order to study consciousness we need a new science.”—Prof William D Phillips comments that he is not sure we’ll be able to understand things like consciousness in detail using the kind of general methods that Francis Bacon or Galileo and others began with. He would also not say that the present methods for scientific investigation are incapable of understanding things as complex as consciousness. But he says that they do not have the tools that they require to understand it. Maybe we will never understand consciousness. He quotes a passage in their scripture that says now we are seeing in a mirror, dimly, but later, when we are in full union with God, we will see Him face to face. Right now our knowledge is imperfect, but later it will be perfect.

Dr TD Singh said, “In our (Vedantic) tradition consciousness is regarded as existing in the spiritual realm—just like in matter we have fundamental particles, similarly consciousness is a fundamental property of the spiritual realm.”

Phillips said, “I have a guess—this is only a guess, certainly not a scientific conclusion—that consciousness itself is a gift from God. That is something that is given to us, to creatures, not something that is part of the material nature of those creatures, but is an external gift that has a spiritual content. And those creatures that are spiritual are creatures that have this consciousness, have self-awareness. Now whether that is only a quality of human beings, I am not entirely sure. But certainly, it is something characteristic of living creatures and is not characteristic of non-living creatures.”

Dr TD Singh said, according to Vedanta, consciousness evolves from the lower form of life to the higher form. That is, all living forms have consciousness. Even single-celled animals have consciousness, but on a very, very low level.

WDP says, “For me, I do not see any conflict with my conception of God as the living Creator who wanted to have relationship with living, conscious creatures and the mechanism of His creation. …We are divinely created beings; we have souls and we have responsibilities. Research won’t change the fundamental truth that we have souls and that those souls connect with the divine.”

TDS said, the soul, in Sanskrit, is called atman. Its symptom is consciousness and it is synonymous with life. Consciousness is the spiritual quality of life and is nonphysical and eternally existing. Unless the soul is in the body, unless life is within the body, the body will not develop. So we place priority on life and emphasize the transmigration of the soul, or evolution of consciousness. For an understanding of the soul, life or consciousness and its nature, it might be useful to have a deeper dialogue amongst different traditions.

WDP said, “God is wonderful and when I look at results of science, it just increases my wonder at how great God is—this is the answer when he was asked to give comment that there is a perception that science is atheistic, which he didn’t agree, and which he said science is either atheistic or theistic, and science is science. Both Prof Williams D Phillips and Dr TD Singh—gave their viewpoints about how to bring peace and harmony in society, to be free from terrorism and man-made disturbances.

“… if the two disciplines of science and spirituality, or science and religion were to work in a cooperative way, then I think there could be some important groundwork for achieving lasting peace, since scientists provide the intellectual background for making bombs and weaponry and the fanatic religious groups seem to be at the root of many conflicts. It would be very beneficial if the scientists and religious groups come together and discuss how to live peacefully by engaging in a very serious dialogue on how to use their respective fields of knowledge for the betterment of the whole human family.”

Dr Phillip’s view on the religious conflicts perpetrated by those people who believe in a God of peace and love, yet it is hard to see that these conflicts are going to be easily resolved, “If somehow we can bring together the idea of openness present in science with religious thinking that has ideas of love and peace at its base, maybe that is the way. …when people have love in their hearts, then things will change.”

TDS referred to the scriptures and said that, “all the scriptures proclaim that we are all God’s children. Hence we are all brothers and sisters although we speak different languages, have different religions. If we recognize and practice this culture of universal brotherhood and sisterhood because we have one common father, then the world will be a very different place.”

As a last reaction in the dialogue, Prof William D Phillips said, “Certainly for me, everything that I do is made easier because of my faith in God, and I certainly think that it will be easier to solve the big problems that face this world if we rely on that faith.”

Lastly Dr TD Singh thanked Prof Phillips and expressed that he met several scholars around the world in different communities but his meeting with Prof Phillips is something very special which he will greatly treasure, and he felt that this must be the Lord’s arrangement, and to this Prof Phillip’s gratitude is, it has been a blessing.

*The article is written by Radhamohan Das

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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