Tiffin Talk: IS SCIENCE FINALLY INCHING TOWARDS METAPHYSICS? A Broad Overview of the Current Scene, by Professor Venkataraman

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20 September 2012 12:45 pm

It is a common perception these days that science and spirituality (which, for many often translates as religion) are mutually contradictory. However, such a trend is recent and is in some measure the result of how philosophy became “fragmented” after the Dark Ages when science began to blossom, particularly with the great discoveries of Galileo and Newton. Curiously, however, the advent of Quantum Mechanics (QM) which based itself solely on “observables,” slowly brought in issues relating to the observer as well.

This talk traces some of this history, the intense debate it generated between Einstein and Bohr the two conscience keepers of Science in early 20th century, a paradox in QM pointed out by Einstein in 1936, and how experiments in the 80’s showed that Einstein was wrong about his views on QM. At the same time, these experiments also pointed in the direction of a subtle connectivity that binds the entire Universe, even though we perceive it as a spectacular exhibition of diversity.

The discussion then leads on to how scientists are trying to reconcile what we perceive with what is “really out there,” which is where physics appears to be knocking on the doors of Meta-Physics.

Avoiding jargon and largely following the historical path, the talk will attempt to give an overview of where spiritual philosophy and science stand in relation to each other at the present time.

In a Spiritual Message to humanity recorded by Gandhi in 1931 (when he was in England), he says: "There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it though I cannot see it. It is this unseen power which makes itself felt, and yet defies all proof because it is so unlike all that I perceive through the senses. It transcends the senses."

It appears that at least at this level there could, at the present time, be an agreement between philosophers and physicists. The talk would conclude with a brief reference to this possible convergence.

Professor G. Venkataraman is a former Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University; this University is based on the gurukula system of ancient India wherein education is provided totally free from Kindergarten to Post Graduation. The Sri Sathya Sai University in Prashanthi Nilayam is the only College in India to have received an "A++" rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous body established by the Indian University Grants Commission. The university aims at imparting Integral Education, development of character being considered the primary objective of education.

He has received academic honours throughout his distinguished career; He was made a fellow of the Indian Academy Of Science; the Indian National Science Academy; and the National Academy of Sciences.  He served as President of the Indian Physics Association for one term, was a Council Member of the Indian Academy of Science for one term; and was the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow (1984-1986).  Academic awards include the ‘Sir C. V. Raman Award’, 1974, the ‘Raman Centenary Medal’, 1988, the ‘Indira Gandhi Award’ of Indian National Science Academy, 1994, ‘Raman Medal’ of the Indian Science Congress, and finally in 2004 ‘Padma Shri’, awarded by the President of India (similar to the Queen’s Honour conferred annually to select citizens).