Sceptics of religion argue that there is no higher Power of creation, whether called God or by any other name, and that the universe manifests out of physical matter and the human intellect is, essentially, the highest manifestation at this time. Others argue that while there may have been a Creator at one point in time, that creator has either died or does not pay attention to the creation, and thus, there is no higher power that intervenes in our lives, thus denying the efficacy of prayer or worship.
One of the major differences between religious faith and Yoga, is that Yoga is a science that bases itself on experience. Sri Aurobindo indicates: “Yoga is not a matter of theory or dogma, like philosophy or popular religion, but a matter of experience.”
The seeker practicing Yoga is thus able to experience states of conscious awareness that reveal the higher, universal conscient Presence that is posited in religion and denied by the sceptics: “Its experience is that of a conscient universal and supracosmic Being with whom it brings us into union with the Invisible, always renewable and verifiable, is as valid as our conscious experience of a physical world and of visible bodies with whose invisible minds we daily communicate.”
When on reflects deeply on the issue, one can see that the universal creation evolves higher and higher forms of consciousness. This could not evolve if it were not present in an involved form to begin with, just as the oak tree cannot develop from the acorn if it were not involved therein. Similarly, one can see the interdependent structure of the universe as evidence of intelligence. As human intelligence has focused on the structure of existence, we have become aware of forces that were previously “invisible” to us, to the extent that now we can make use of electricity, solar power, wireless communications and microwaves in our daily lives without being able to visibly “see” them. The Yogin understands that there are limitations to the ranges of experience that the mentality can experience in its normal status today; yet that does not limit the opportunity to exceed these limits or for humanity to evolve to new stages of evolutionary development wherein further realms of experience are made manifest.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “Yoga proceeds by conscious union, the conscious being is its instrument, and a conscious union with the Inconscient cannot be. It is true that it goes beyond the human consciousness and in Samadhi becomes superconscient, but this is not an annullation of our conscious being, it is only its self-exceeding, the going beyond its present level and normal limits.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 2, The Motives of Devotion, pp. 531-532