Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhagavata Purana and Contemporary Theory

ISBN : 9780199641543

Jonathan B. Edelmann
272 ページ
162 x 240 mm

Western intellectual history has benefited from a rich and sophisticated conversation between theology and science, leaving us with centuries of scientific and theological literature on the subjects. Yet the Hindu traditions are virtually unused in responding to the challenging questions raised in the science and religion dialogue. This book replies to the sciences by drawing from an important Hindu text called the Bhagavata Purana, as well as its commentaries, and philosophical disciplines such as eamkhya-Yoga. One of the greatest challenges facing Hindu traditions since the nineteenth century is their own self-understanding in light of science and technology. Hoping to establish the conceptual foundations for a mutually beneficial dialogue between the Hindu Theologies and the Western Sciences, Jonathan B. Edelmann faces that challenge directly. Since so much of the Hinduism-science discussion is tangled in misconstrual, Edelmann clarifies fundamental issues in each tradition, for example the definition of consciousness, the means of generating knowledge and the goal of knowledge itself. He argues that although Darwinian theory seems to entail a materialistic view of consciousness, the Bhagavata's views provide an alternative framework for thinking about Darwinian theory. Furthermore, Edelmann argues that objectivity is a hallmark of modern science, and this is an intellectual virtue shared by the Bhagavata. Lastly, he critiques the view that science and religion have different objects of knowledge (that is, the natural world vs. God), arguing that many Western scientists and theologians have found science helpful in thinking about God in ways similar to that of the Bhagavata.


Introduction: The Purpose and Possibility of Dialogue
A Dialogue Between Science and Religion?
The Meaning of Bhagavata Theology
Types of Biological Texts
Anatomy of a Worldview
1. Setting the Scene
Bhagavata Purana Overview
Contemporary Evolutionary Theory Overview
2. Ontology of Body, Mind and Consciousness
Ontology of the Bhagavata
Physicalism: Views From Darwin and Neuroscience
Reconciling Physicalism and the Ontology of the Bh?gavata
3. Toward a Bhagavata Theory of Knowledge
The Instruments of Knowledge
Relationships Between the Instruments of Knowledge
Testimony, Nonsensory Perception and Practice
4. The Study of Nature as Vaishnava-Yoga
Cosmic Body
5. Seeing Truth, Hearing Truth
Objectivity in the Natural Sciences
Testimony in the Sciences
Transforming Vaishnava Theology: Reflections on Hermeneutics
6. Moving from Nature to God
From Scientific Theory to God
Closer Comparisons
Science as a Form of Religious Practice
Closer Comparisons


Jonathan B. Edelmann, Assistant Professor of Religion, Mississippi State University