- – By Jerry Thomas
It is an indisputable historical fact that the modern science emerged in a Christian culture. It is an equally demonstrable fact that Christians continue to distinguish themselves in path breaking scientific research and innovation compared to Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists/agnostics. Are these all facts incidental or is there anything that is intrinsic to Christian and Jewish community that gives them that cutting edge in science? Is there anything that explains the abysmally poor performance of Hindus, Muslims, others in science? In this article and video, Jerry Thomas demonstrates the reasons for the excellence of Christians and Jews in science and pathetic backwardness of dharmic and sharia religions.
In 2002, Baruch Aba Shalev, a geneticist headquartered in Israel, published a detailed statistical analysis of all Nobel Prize Winners from AD 1901 to AD 2000. Baruch Aba Shalev painstakingly went through each and every winner of Nobel Prize Winner and their backgrounds. On religious background, he collated the self-identification of the Nobel Prize Winners, in other words, whether those Nobel Laureates would consider themselves as Christians, Jews, Atheists/Agnostics, or Hindus or Buddhists. The stunning results authenticated that Christians and Jews are remarkably far above than any other religious or non-religious groups in the world when it comes to science, specially.
As per Baruch Aba Shalev’s book, “100 Years of Noble Prizes”, Chapter Religion of Nobel Prize Winners, Pages 59-60, 72.5% of Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, and 62.0% in Medicine identify themselves as Christians compared 0.0% Hindus in Chemistry, 1.4% in Physics, 0.6% in Medicine. One may wonder why Hindus are 0.0% in Chemistry, when Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan won Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The list is up to the year 2000 and Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan in the year 2009. Further, even if you add Dr. Venkatraman to the list of Hindus (in case if he considers himself to a Hindu), it hardly makes a difference statically. Similar is the case with Muslims as well. 0.8% of Muslims have won Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 0.7% in Physics, and 0.0% in Medicine. Absolutely sorrowful and pathetic condition of Hindus and Muslims. It must be noted that Christians are only 31% of the world population, while Muslims are 24% and Hindus are about 15% of the world population.
What explains remarkable contribution of Christians vs Hindus or Muslims? Are Christians genetically coded to be of superior intelligence? Of course not. Human beings across religions are endowed with equal capabilities by God, our creator. However, while Christians are enlightened by the divine light of the Holy Bible, Hindus and Muslims are darkened by erroneous teachings of Vedic literature and Quran & hadiths. There are several ways in which this work – at ethical level, cultural level, at institutional level but we will look at just one aspect to demonstrate the light of the Holy Bible – laws of nature.
LAWS OF NATURE – THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF SCIENCE
John Henry, at the University of Edinburgh, in his paper Metaphysics and the Origins of Modern Science, published in Early Science and Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2004), pp. 73-114, notes that “the discovery and understanding of Laws of Nature is as Zilsel noted, the basic task of science. It might be even said to be its defining characteristic: “Where there is no law,” wrote Emile Meyerson, “there is no science”.
Dr. Edgar Zilsel (1891 – 1944), the Jewish Marxist historian in his book, THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF MODERN SCIENCE, Chapter 6, The Genesis of the Concept of Physical Law, Page 96, writes “Knowledge of physical laws is of the greatest importance both to the theorist and to the engineer. Whoever knows a law of nature is able to predict and, consequently, to control events: without investigation of laws there is no modem technology.”
However, what we now consider as the most defining characteristics of science was quite unknown to almost all ancient civilizations which studied both interestingly studied nature and sometimes excelled in mathematics (e.g. Mesopotamia, India, Egypt etc). Why didn’t they attempt to search for mathematical laws in the nature? The answer is ancient civilizations never even thought that there could be laws to nature, specifically which can be expressed in mathematical formula. They had an occultic understanding of nature.
GREEK OCCULTIC UNDERSTANDING OF NATURE
G. Collingwood (AD 1889 – 1943) in his book, The Idea of Nature, Introduction, Greek Philosophy writes this “Greek natural science was based on the principle that the world of nature is saturated or permeated by mind. Greek thinkers regarded the presence of mind in nature as the source of that regularity or orderliness in the natural world whose presence made a science of nature possible. The world of nature they regarded as a world of bodies in motion. The motions in themselves, according to Greek ideas, were due to vitality or ‘soul’; but motion in itself is one thing, they believed, and orderliness another.”
As a result, even the best of their minds did not even consider applying mathematics to nature.
Peter Harrison, (currently the Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Former Idreos Professor of Science and Religion and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford) write this in his paper The Development of Natural Law “It is also important to bear in mind that Aristotle had proscribed transfer of the methods of one science to another. This meant that mathematics was not to be used in the sphere of natural philosophy. However, in what Aristotle had referred to as ‘subalternate sciences’ – astronomy, optics, and mechanics – some mathematical treatment of particular subjects was permitted.”
This Greek idea blinded the Western mind for centuries before the light of Christianity finally liberated the Western mind. Before we come to that, let us look at the Hindu understanding of nature or prakriti.
Hindu Occultic Understanding of Nature
Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita 14:5 says Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas,—these Gunas, O mighty-armed, born of Prakriti, bind fast in the body the indestructible embodied one (English translation and commentary by Swami Swarupananda, ).
Guna here doesn’t merely mean quality. It means quality and constituent. Swami Krishnananda, Saraswati (25 April 1922 – 23 November 2001)’, Former General Secretary of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh writes this in his commentary on Gita.
There are three gunas. It has been mentioned many a time that there are three gunas, that prakriti has three properties—sattva, rajas and tamas. What are these? Sattvaṁ rajastama iti guṇāḥ prakṛtisambhavāḥ (14.5): These properties are the very constituent elements of prakriti. THEY ARE NOT QUALITIES LIKE THE WHITENESS OF A CLOTH, WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM THE CLOTH, AND THE BLUENESS OF A FLOWER, WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM THE FLOWER. That is not the way in which we have to understand the qualities of prakriti. THE GUNAS ARE QUALITIES OF PRAKRITI IN THE SAME WAY AS THE THREE STRANDS OF A ROPE ARE QUALITIES OF THE ROPE. We cannot say that the strands are qualities; they are the very substance of the rope. These qualities, these properties, are the very substance, the very stuff, of prakriti; and they cause bondage to the individual—nibadhnanti. Dehe dehinam avyayam: They bind us. (Source: Click Here).
Since Dharmic followers were taught by their scriptures erroneously that nature constituted of three substances, they looked for its proportion everywhere – from gods to brahmins to shudras to insects (order followed by dharmic followers).
As an illustration, Manusmriti 12:40 – 49 (English translation by Ganganath Jha) says this
Those partaking of ‘Sattva’ reach the state of the gods, those endowed with ‘Rajas,’ the state of men, and those characterised by ‘Tamas,’ the state of beasts; such is the threefold migratory state.—(40)
This threefold Migratory State due to the qualities should be understood to be again of three kinds each—high, low and middling, in accordance with the peculiar character of the act and knowledge of each man.—(41)
Inanimate beings, worms, insects, fishes, snakes, tortoise, cattle and wild animals,—represent the lowest state due to the quality of ‘Tamas.’—(42)
Elephants, horses, despised Śūdras, Mlecchas, lions, tigers and boars—represent the middling state due to the quality of ‘Tamas.’—(43)
Cāraṇas, Suparṇas, hypocritical men, Rākṣasas, and Piśācas—represent the highest state among those partaking of the quality of ‘Tamas.’—(44)
Stick-fencers, wrestlers, actors, men subsisting by the use of weapons, those addicted to gambling and drinking,—represent the lowest state among those partaking of the quality of ‘Rajas.’—(45)
Kings, Kṣatriyas, priests of kings, and leading wranglers and warriors represent the middling state among those partaking of ‘Rajas.’—(46)
Gandharvas, Guhyakas, ‘Yakṣas,’ the attendants of the gods, and all the Apsaras, represent the high state among those partaking of ‘Rajas.’—(47)
Ascetics and hermits, Brāhmaṇas, celestial beings, lunar asterisms, and Daityas represent the first state partaking of ‘Sattva.’—(48)
Sacrificers, sages, gods, vedas, luminaries, years, Pitṛs and Sādhyas represent the second state partaking of ‘Sattva.’—(49)
As you would note this obsession with the three gunas blinded the eyes of the best minds in India.
ISLAM’S ERRONEOUS UNDERSTANDING OF NATURE
Islam was no different. It believed that there is no cause and effect in nature, but all are indeed caused by Muhammad’s god Allah. Obviously such an erroneous view would again blind the eyes of even the greatest intellectual and render them worthless.
Quran says, when Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, did stone pelting on enemies, it was not Muhammad but Islam’s deity, Allah who did that. In other words, even all actions of human beings are also actions of Islam’s deity.
Surah 8: 17 – And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
The same rationale is extended to all other events and actions in the world (see e.g. Surah 6:95-96, 16:66). AL Ghazali, one of the greatest scholars of Islam ever lived wrote this in his book The Incoherence of Philosophers, Problem 18:
“Firstly, the opponent may claim that fire alone is the agent of burning, and that being an agent by nature (not by choice), it cannot refrain from doing what it is its nature to do – after it comes into contact with a subject which is receptive to it. THIS IS WHAT WE DENY. We say that it is God who through the intermediacy of angels, or directly – is the agent of creation of blackness in cotton; of the disintegration of its parts and of their transformation into a smoldering heap or ashes. Fire, which is an inanimate thing, has no action. How can one prove that it is an agent? The only argument is from the observation of the fact of burning at the time of contact with fire. But observation only shows that one is with the other, not that is by it and has no other cause than it” (All bold ours).
Needless to say, if one denies cause and effect and assumes that his or her deity causes the smoke and it has no connection with fire, any enterprise of science would be strangulated for heresy. Science at least has to assume cause and effect.
Amidst all these pagan and Islamic darkness, the Holy Bible gave the divine light to the world.
The Holy Bible and Natural Law
Dr. Edgar Zilsel, the Jewish Marxist historian cites the Holy Bible and notes:
“The divine lawgiver is the central idea of Judaism. Since God in addition is the creator of the world, it is easy to understand that the idea arose of his not only having given the moral and ritual laws to his people, but also having prescribed certain prohibitions to the physical world. In a description of God’s power and omniscience Job 28, 26 says that God made a law for the rain (and a way for lightning and thunder). The Hebrew text uses the word chok. This is derived from the verb chokak, meaning to engrave, and is the same term which is used for moral and ritual laws in the Old Testament. The Septuagint translates very freely “he numbered the rain “, the Vulgate literally gives ponebat legem” (Source: THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF MODERN SCIENCE, Edgar Zilsel, Chapter 6, The Genesis of the Concept of Physical Law, Page 97).
He continues: “The same word chok, which however in this context means rather boundary, is used in Job 26, 10, which says that the Lord made a boundary to the water, until light and darkness come to an end. Likewise Job 38, 10 says the Lord set a boundary, bars, and doors to the ocean. The following verse 11, without using the term “law”, pronounces the wording of a divine command or, better, prohibition: the Lord says to the sea: “Hitherto shalt thou come but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed”. The Hebrew text uses the future to express the command, as is usual in Hebrew and is done also in the Ten Commandments. The Septuagint and the Vulgate too translate literally by the future” (Source: THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF MODERN SCIENCE, Edgar Zilsel, Chapter 6, The Genesis of the Concept of Physical Law, Page 97).
At this point, one might ask if the Holy Bible had guided people that nature has laws, why it took several years for Christianity to arrive at the current method. The answer is while Europe became religiously Christian, it was the Greek philosophy the reigned the academia before certain Christians started repudiating the Aristotelian Greek philosophy.
Christians Repudiate Pagan Aristotelian Greek Philosophy
On March 7, 1277, Bishop of Paris, Stephen Tempier, condemned 219 philosophical and theological theses. Edward Grant is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University, Bloomington writes in his book, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science):
“In articles 139, 140, and 141, the authorities condemned the seemingly self-evident Aristotelian principle that an accident could not exist without a subject, or substance, in which to inhere and that God could not create an accident, or quality, that did not inhere in a subject or substance.”
There were several other articles of condemnation. It rejected in other words the occultic properties inherent in nature and implicitly argued for imposed laws. This was the beginning of a new revolution – or the birth pangs of modern science.
Several Christians pursued this line of thought who became later known as pioneers of modern science. Let us look at their own words.
HOW THE HOLY BIBLE GUIDED PIONEERS OF MODERN SCIENCE?
Catholic Priest Nicolas Copernicus
Let us begin with the Catholic Priest Nicolaus Copernicus (9 February 1473 – 21 May 1543). Rev. Copernicus wrote in his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres:
“I began to be annoyed that the movements of the world machine, CREATED FOR OUR SAKE BY THE BEST AND MOST SYSTEMATIC ARTISAN OF ALL, WERE NOT UNDERSTOOD WITH GREATER CERTAINTY by the philosophers, who otherwise examined so precisely the most insignificant trifles of this world. For this reason I undertook the task of rereading the works of all the philosophers which I could obtain to learn whether anyone had ever proposed other motions of the universe’s spheres than those expounded by the teachers of astronomy in the schools.”
Rev. Copernicus was motivated to relook at the heavenly motions as he expected precision in nature. Why? He expects the God of the Bible to make everything with such precision. A Hindu pujari or a Muslim Imam would never expect that.
Christian Believer Galileo
Again, hear the words of Galileo. Galileo wrote about the tension between Aristotelian method and the new method. You can read how Aristotle did not require mathematical demonstration (which is a defining characteristics of modern science) and how the Aristotelian disciples (which ironically included Pope Urban VIII), ganged up against Galileo who was a firm believer that the Holy Bible could never err.
In Galileo’s Book “Dialogue Concerning Two World Chief Systems, 1632” Galileo writes:
“SIMPLETON. I will not say that this your argument may not be concludent; In physical proofs e metrical exactness is not necessary. but yet this I say with Aristotle, that in things natural it is not always necessary, to bring Mathematical demonstrations.”
Simpleton in this imaginary conversation is a disciple of Aristotle and was said to refer to Pope.
In Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, he wrote: “Some years ago, as Your Serene Highness well knows, I discovered in the heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age. The novelty of these things, as well as some consequences which followed from them in contradiction to the physical notions commonly held among academic philosophers, stirred up against me no small number of professors – as if I had placed these things in the sky with my own hands in order to upset nature and overturn the sciences. They seemed to forget that the increase of known truths stimulates the investigation, establishment, and growth of the arts; not their diminution or destruction.”
He further noted in the same letter: “That the Sacred Scripture can never lye, when ever its true meaning is understood: Which I believe none will deny to be many times very abstruce, and very different from that which the bare sound of the words signifieth.”
Johannes Kepler, the Man of God
If that Galileo, let us look at the great astronomer Johannes Kepler.
In ‘Letter to Herwart von Hohenburg’, 1599, Kepler wrote that God not only has put laws into nature but also made us in the image of God to understand it. He made science a Christian enterprise. To quote Kepler:
“Those laws are within the grasp of the human mind; God wanted us to recognize them by creating us after his own image so that we could share in his thoughts. For what is there in the human mind besides figures and magnitudes? It is only these which we can apprehend in the right way, and if piety allows us to say so our understanding is in this respect of the same kind as the divine, at least so far as we are able to grasp something in our mortal life. Only fools fear that we make man godlike in doing so; for God’s counsels are impenetrable but not his material creation.”
Kepler, gave glory to God for his discoveries. In The Harmonies of the World (pp. 107-108), Kepler wrote:
“My mind has been given over to philosophizing most correctly: if there is anything unworthy of Thy designs brought forth by me—a worm born and nourished in a wallowing place of sins—breathe into me also that which Thou dost wish men to know, that I may make the correction: If I have been allured into rashness by the wonderful beauty of Thy works, or if I have loved my own glory among men, while I am advancing in the work destined for Thy glory, be gentle and merciful and pardon me; and finally deign graciously to effect that these demonstrations give way to Thy glory and the salvation of souls and nowhere be an obstacle to that.”
Christian Apologist Robert Boyle
Christian apologist and scientist Robert Boyle further explained how the laws of nature are there.
In his book, About the excellency and grounds of the mechanical hypothesis, some considerations (London: 1674), Robert Boyle wrote:
“The subsequent course of nature, teaches, that God, indeed, gave motion to matter; but that, in the beginning, he so guided the various motion of the parts of it, as to contrive them into the world he designed they should compose; and established those rules of motion, and that order amongst things corporeal, which we call the laws of nature. Thus, the universe being once framed by God, and the laws of motion settled, and all upheld by his perpetual concourse, and general providence; the same philosophy teaches, that the phenomena of the world, are physically produced by the mechanical properties of the parts of matter; and, that they operate upon one another according to mechanical laws.”
He further denounced pagan faiths which worshipped nature and blinded people.
In his book, A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), Robert Boyle wrote:
“The veneration, wherewith men are imbued for what they call nature, has been a discouraging impediment to the empire of man over the inferior creatures of God: for many have not only looked upon it, as an impossible thing to compass, but as something impious to attempt, the removing of those boundaries which nature seems to have put and settled among her productions; and whilst they look upon her as such a venerable thing, some make a kind of scruple of conscience to endeavor so to emulate any of her works, as to excel them.”
Bible Commentator Isaac Newton
In fact, no less person than Sir Isaac Newton, the Bible Commentator and Scientist, explicitly called for the rejection of occulting understanding of nature (as we have seen earlier Hindus still have occultic understanding of science).
The Bible Commentator Sir Isaac Newton wrote in his classical scientific treatise, Mathematical Principles of Nature:
“Since the ancients (according to Pappus) considered mechanics to be of the greatest importance in the investigation of nature and science and since the moderns – REJECTING SUBSTANTIAL FORMS AND OCCULT QUALITIES – have undertaken to reduce the phenomena OF NATURE TO MATHEMATICAL LAWS, it seems best in this treatise to concentrate on mathematics as its relates to natural philosophy.”
Christian Pastor and Scientist Michael Faraday – The Greatest Experimental Scientist Ever Lived
I.H.Hutchinson, Professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, notes: “One example of the influence of his theological perspective on his science is Faraday’s preoccupation with nature’s laws. `God has been pleased to work in his material creation by laws’, he remarked, and `the Creator governs his material works by definite laws resulting from the forces impressed on matter.’ This is part of the designer’s art: `How wonderful is to me the simplicity of nature when we rightly interpret her laws’.” (Click Here).
Sir John Meurig Thomas – director of the Royal Institution from 1986 to 1991 wrote in Engineering & Science/Summer 1992, that “Had there been Nobel Prizes in Michael Faraday’s day, he probably would have won several”. He then goes on to list at least of them. Sir John Meurig Thomas then adds: “It was Faraday’s faith. .that the obscure and apparently unrelated curiosities of electricity and magnetism were indeed related.”
As one can see, it was the Biblical light that laid to the foundation of modern science and inspired great men of God whom we now call as pioneers of modern science and it was the darkness of dharmic and sharia religions that blinded the Hindu and Islamic cultures. Unless one totally rejects the occultic and erroneous understanding and thereby darkness of dharmic and sharia religions and follow the divine light of the Holy Bible and allow our cultures to be completely reformed by the principles of Holy Bible, we will continue to remain backward.
Psalms 119: 104-105 – “From your precepts I get understanding, therefore, I hate every false way. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and light to my ath.”