India’s Nationalist Agenda: Religion, Science, Politics

Robert V. Davis, Jr.


Science is a particular way of understanding the natural world. It is specific to the development of western European culture beginning in the sixteenth century and presumes that our physical environment is regulated by humanly comprehensible laws, can be reduced to constituent parts, and performs predictably. There is no role for interventionist gods. In India, historical obeisance to the metaphysical strictures of the Vedas prevented the development of a non-religious alternative to deconstructing the natural world that, in the West, became science. Nevertheless, India’s nationalistic political agenda has attempted to credit the Vedas as providing the conceptual origins of science many thousands of years ago. This may be good politics in India, but it is bad history and misrepresents what science is.

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