Are science and spirituality compatible?
Yes. The way they are compatible is so simple that it is hilarious that normally we forget it and lose ourselves in “big” debates.
Science, in the broad sense, is the study of big history, the history of the universe. It tells us:
- the big bang happened 13 billion years ago
- the earth formed 4.5 billion years ago
- Life on earth started 3.5 billion years ago
- Mammals appeared about 250 million years ago
- Hominines appeared about 6 million years ago
- Homo sapiens appeared about 250,000 years ago
- Humans discovered agriculture about 12,000 years ago.
- The first major civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt began about 7,000 years ago.
- The axial age of modern religions like Judaism, Hinduism and Confucianism and also science began about 3,500 years ago.
This is what science – physics, geology, archeology, anthropology – tells us.
Spirituality is living life with the constant awareness of the vastness of life and having that awareness infuse so deeply into your consciousness that it transforms your day to day interactions with others into a mode of increasing peace and lessening of emotional conflict.
One way of being spiritual is to bring the vastness of the scientific awareness into everyday human life. The cosmic awareness of science and the cosmic awareness of spirituality can come together and enforce each other.
Poof! The apparent conflict between science and spirituality disappears.
How then does the appearance of conflict arise?
That too is simple: when one forgets cosmic awareness, but still lays claim to it. Be it the scientist who mistakes his scientific identity as cosmic awareness, or the religious person who mistakes his religious identity as cosmic awareness.
Two people who forget the vastness of the world and lose themselves to their identities and so presume that the fight of their identities defines the world – that is the source of the apparent tension of science and spirituality.
The tension disappears when one holds to the cosmic awareness of the real, deep vastness of the world, and sees that science and religion as social practices, institutions and identities are only a few thousand years old. A mere few seconds in the time of the universe.
The clash is not between science and spirituality. Nor even between scientific and spiritual identities. It is between misunderstandings of scientific and spiritual identities.