Conciliation, conflict, or complementarity: Responses to three voices in the hinduism and science discourse

Zygon 47 (3):608-623 (2012)


Abstract This essay is a response to three review articles on two recently published books dealing with aspects of Hinduism and science: Jonathan Edelmann's Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Contemporary Theory, and my own, Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma and Design. The task set by the editor of Zygon for the three reviewers was broad: they could make specific critiques of the two books, or they could use them as starting points to engage in a broad discussion of Hinduism and science, or religion and science in general. In my response, I first provide a fairly detailed reply to David Gosling's many critiques of my book, and in the process call into question his Advaitic conciliation of Hinduism and science. Thomas Ellis's thesis of basic incompatibility between Hinduism and science is much closer to my own viewpoint. One of the main objectives of my book was to explain and illustrate this incompatibility with specific regard to Hindu and Darwinian perspectives on evolution. In this essay I provide a few examples in support of Ellis's incompatibility thesis, encompassing both epistemological and metaphysical dissonances. Finally, I reflect upon Varadaraja V. Raman's wide-ranging exposition on the all-encompassing nature of the Hindu tradition that readily accommodates both religious and scientific quests for knowledge. Raman uses the two books only as starting points for his own thoughts, without reference to my book. I confine myself, accordingly, to a brief critique of his complementarity approach to Hinduism and science, and of his radical inclusivism that enfolds basically all philosophical positions into the warm embrace of the Hindu tradition, including even the extreme antireligious materialism of the Cārvāka

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