Science Represents the Mental Consciousness Attempting to Understand and Apply the Laws of Physical and Supraphysical Nature

Science has often been set in contradiction to religion because it focuses first and foremost on the physical world of matter and attempts to understand and apply the laws of physical nature.  Science represents the rise of the mental capacity of the human being turning its first focus on the basis upon which human life is founded, the physical body and world, and the vital nature of life.  It is frequently said that religion treats of principles that go beyond the physical world, or what we may call “supraphysical” nature.  Science and religion however are actually not in conflict with one another; eventually science, as it delves ever-deeper into the workings of the material world, must turn its attention on the supra-physical world that actually governs the world of matter.   In fact, having started with Matter, Science eventually discovered that all Matter is Energy.  Going further, however, Science is now on the threshold of acknowledging that Energy is Consciousness.  The ultimate nature of Consciousness brings us into the realm that Religion has made its own.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “It is true that the first tendencies of Science have been materialistic and its indubitable triumphs have been confined to the knowledge of the physical universe and the body and the physical life.  But this materialism is a very different thing from the old identification of the self with the body.  Whatever its apparent tendencies, it has been really an assertion of man the mental being and of the supremacy of intelligence.  Science in its very nature is knowledge, is intellectuality, and its whole work has been that of the Mind turning its gaze upon its vital and physical frame and environment to know and conquer and dominate Life and Matter.”

“Life and Matter are after all our standing-ground, our lower basis and to know their processes and their own proper possibilities and the opportunities they give the human being is part of the knowledge necessary for transcending them.  Life and the body have to be exceeded, but they have also to be utilised and perfected.  Neither the laws nor the possibilities of physical Nature can be entirely known unless we know also the laws and possibilities of supraphysical Nature; therefore the development of new and the recovery of old mental and psychic sciences have to follow upon the perfection of our physical knowledge, and that new era is already beginning to open upon us.  But the perfection of the physical sciences was a prior necessity and had to be the first field for the training of the mind of man in his new endeavour to know Nature and possess his world.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 8, Civilisation and Barbarism, pp. 77-78