Knowing begins with believing

Knowing begins with believing

Atheists often decry belief as something undesirable that should be wiped out by science.

Yet they overlook the reality that science too is grounded in belief – the belief that the universe is intelligible. To understand how science requires this belief, here’s an example. Suppose we came across a paper with some unintelligible patterns on it. Normally, we would just neglect it. But if we believed that it contained a message, we would exert ourselves to find the language it was written in, learn that language and decipher the message.

Similarly, when scientists observe various phenomena in the universe, their observations usually don’t make immediate sense. Yet they don’t dismiss those phenomena as nonsense. Why not? Because they believe that nature is pregnant with order – an order that they can’t yet sense because, metaphorically speaking, they haven’t learnt the language that nature speaks. By postulating theories and conducting experiments, they try to learn nature’s language. If scientists didn’t believe in the intelligibility of the universe, they could never acquire any scientific knowledge.

What applies to science applies to spirituality too – no belief, no knowledge. The Bhagavad-gita (04.39) states that the faithful can acquire knowledge.

So when knowing requires believing even in science, why should atheists object if spiritual knowing – knowing about life’s spiritual side – requires believing? The spiritual by its very definition is non-material, so knowing it requires belief in a non-material reality that communicates with us in an appropriate language. Gita wisdom posits that the highest such reality is God, and he communicates with us most efficaciously through scriptural revelation. Instead of denouncing all belief, if atheists opened themselves to understanding the language of scriptural revelation – the language of love, they would witness an astonishing expansion of their conceptual horizons – a spiritual expansion that would culminate in their experientially verifying God’s existence and intelligence.

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