Religion, Arts and Science – Why Branches of the Same Tree?

All human creations can be divided broadly into three categories i.e. science, religion and arts. Initially, art referred to any human skill or mastery. However during the romantic period, art was separated from the other two main branches of human creation i.e. science and religion. Arts, science and religion are now considered as different specializations that have nothing in common.

Albert Einstein said “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. ” Yet we don’t know why? After all, religion is based on faith needing no evidence. Science is based on fact that has to be proven by evidence. Art relates to human emotion and requires neither faith nor evidence as we know it is a fiction or an object created purely from the imagination of a human mind.

Art: An Imagination that needs emotional evidence

It is extremely difficult to define art. Art is, fortunately, a work of human imagination and creativity that is free from any bondage or test. The only reason, why a particular music is considered as an art, is that it appeals to the listener. The test of a good painting is the appreciation of the viewer. No logic, reason or proof is required to term an art as good as its only criterion is that it should be appreciated by people.

While both science and religion claims to be factual and the representation of the reality, art has no qualm in admitting that it is nothing but a fiction. As a matter of fact, some forms of arts like movies and novels clearly state that these are the work of fiction and any resemblance with the fact or reality is purely accidental. Literature, another form of art, is officially called fiction as everything in the novel or the story is fictitious which are created purely from human imagination.

Thus one essential feature of art is that it is not a representation of fact or reality. Yet a good movie or a story makes you cry, increases your heart-beat, makes you laugh and makes you forget that it is not a reality. The effect of a good art is no different than that created by the reality.

The most interesting thing about an art is that it affects your emotions and not the mind. When you are reading a thriller like “Da Vinci Code, your mind is very much aware that everything in the novel is a fiction, yet you just can’t control your emotions which emerges in the reader as if you are reading a real life story of the characters in the real life situation. In a typical fiction, all the characters and situations are created by the imagination of the author, yet they seem quite real. A fiction is, thus, not a work of any imagination but it consists of many facts and realities that makes the fiction like a reality.

It can be compared with a painting of a beautiful girl. The girl may be imaginary, yet the features of the girl have a close resemblance with real girls. The colors of the painter are also real, which may not be exactly same as the real life girl give the impression of the real girl, when woven from the imagination of the viewer. An artist creates the body of the reality but the soul of the reality comes from the imagination of the viewer who pours his own soul in the art. Therefore, when a novel is read by a million people, each person imagine the characters and situation from his own imagination.

Thus an art is created by the imagination of the artist which appeals to the emotions of other persons. The real test of an art is not the test of Truth (how close it is from Truth) but how much it looks like Truth. The test of art is not the proof or evidence it has but how the reader perceives the truth in the fiction. To convey the real message in the guise of imaginative characters and situation itself is an art which only artists can understand. If the art fails to influence the heart (emotions) of the people, it can’t be said to be a good art.

Science: An Imagination that needs material evidence

Science is the knowledge that is created by the imagination (hypothesis) of human mind but verifiable by the material facts and evidences. A scientist typically observes a phenomenon, hypothesize an explanation for the phenomenon, predict a logical consequence of the guess, test the prediction, and review for any mistakes. Thus the origin of science is an hypothesis that a scientist make after making an observation. The critical test of the science is its conformity with the material evidence.

Hypothesis is nothing but imagination of the scientist. Thus every scientific theory like art finds its origin in the imagination of the human mind. However, science relates to matter and its truth has to be tested by material evidence. For example, if E=mc2 was not verifiable by experiments, scientist would have discarded the relativity theory of Einstein, irrespective of the soundness of the argument or the theory.

Religion: An Imagination that needs Social evidence

A religion often refers to an organized set of beliefs and faiths regarding the spiritual or metaphysical world. The concept of religion may or may not have the concept of God. All Religions, however, have some set of common believes and rituals that are required to be followed by its followers.

Religions are a curious mix of science and arts. The followers of the religions are absolutely sure about the truthfulness of their scriptures while other people often find it a work of fiction. However, unlike arts, where the artists always tell the people that the art is a creation of their imagination, the prophets or the originator of the religion often call it a gospel Truth which they have acquired directly from God..

Therefore, religions like arts and sciences also seems to originate from human imagination. Often, its creators are known as prophets or son of God who acquired the knowledge directly from the God or Spirit. For example, Bible and Koran are considered to be the revelation of God to the prophets and believed to be the words of God. Gita is believed to be the words of Lord Krishna. However, some religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are believed to be originated from mortal human beings even though, the follower of their religions often try to exalt their status to the level of deity by calling Mahavir Jain and Buddha not as ordinary human beings but avatars or the incarnation of God and constructing their statues like God.

One Tree Many Branches

It is evident that the source of all arts, science and religion is the imagination of the human mind. However, the human imaginations are given different names like fiction, hypothesis or the revelation depending upon the creation. When, Newton saw the apple falling from a tree, he imagined the force of gravitation that was attracting the apple towards the earth. Galileo formed his heliocentric theory of the solar system based on his imagination that earth was revolving around sun. This was an extraordinary imagination that was beyond the perception of the senses. He had no special sense to visualize how massive earth could revolve around a tiny (looking) sun. Einstein imagined that all motions of the planets are only relative or that light is both a particle and a wave based on his imagination.

Yet no one knows why such imagination arose in the minds of such chosen individuals. Was it the desire of God to manifest the Truth through these people? Or was it the desire of man to discover the Truth that lead to such imagination? The first hypothesis is the one that is given by the believers or the religious people. However, if we presume the truthfulness of second hypothesis then also the question remains, why such desire arose in those individuals that finally culminated into such extraordinary imagination?

Body Mind and Soul

Almost all religions and spiritual people believe in the existence of body, mind, soul and spirit (or God). However, science does not believe in anything other than body as it considers even the mind as the part of the body (brain) and explains the thoughts in terms of bio-chemicals. These concept are explained in different religions. Gita (III 42) explains the relationship of body, mind, soul and Spirit in the following words.

The senses are superior to the body. Above the senses is the mind, above the mind is the soul (individual intelligence) and above the soul is God (Universal Intelligence or Spirit).

Based on this theory, we find that there are four level of evolution of human thoughts. A man “sees” the world differently depending upon the “stage” of his evolution.

Eyes of Body: The first level of evolution is the level of body. At this level, we see the world from the physical eyes of the body. This capability is common to all the animals in the world as each one has the eyes of the body. At this stage seeing is believing.

Eyes of the Mind: In the next level of evolution, we can see the world from the eyes of the mind, i.e. using the logic and reasoning. We believe that every thing in the world can be explained by the mind. We not only see what is before our eyes, but also what can’t be seen from the physical eyes. For example, you see a car moving, you know that it must have driver that is driving the car. It is a stage when you see what you believe.

Eyes of the Soul: The next level of evolution is attained when we see the limitation of logic in explaining the world. Then we try to understand the world from our own perception and experience. The wise people always believed that to know the world, you must know your self. At this stage a man thinks “Ahem Brahmasm” (I am the universe). As Upanishads rightly stated many thousand years back.

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body

As is the human mind, so as the cosmic mind

As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm

S Radhakrshnan, one of the greatest Indian philosophers of the modern science sums up the concept of the world inside in the following words

The philosophical attempt to determine the nature of reality may start either with the thinking self or the object of thought. In India the interest of philosophy is in the self of man. .. In India “Atmanam viddhi” Know the self, sums up the law and the prophets. With man is the spirit which is the center of everything.

In this respect, even western thoughts were not very different. Socrates said

“You can’t teach a person a thing. You can only help him discover it within himself.”

Man is capable of visualizing the Truths or the secrets of the universe that is neither visible from the eyes or senses nor understandable by mind and logic. These are Truths that are available in arts, religion and science. We know that we want to help a crying child or poor without knowing the logic and conclude that other people must also think likewise. We cry when we see injustice and we know that it is a universal desire of man. Once we know ourselves, we can know the universe

Eyes of the Spirit: When a person evolves to the level of spirit, he is able to see the entire world as the extension of his own self. The limits of time and space ceases to exist as his soul get one with the soul of the universal soul or spirit. From here he understand the thoughts of God or the deep secret of nature. All great imagination and classics are created only when a person is able to reach to the final stage of evolution. At this level, the soul is elevated to the level of spirit and the man moves farthest from the material body. However, this stage is not permanent as the man is soon brought back to the world, by the forces of the material world. Yet in the process, he acquires the thoughts of God. This is the highest state of imagination and one discovers the thoughts of God at this stage.

Translation of Divine Knowledge for the World

Once a person knows the thoughts of God or the deepest secrets of the universe, the difficulty is, how to make the world believe about what one has seen from the eyes of the spirit? His ideas seems stupid to the world as these are unique and not comprehensible to the ordinary man.

One method to convince about the Truth is to produce the imagination in words or in other forms of art like fiction, movie, visual art, music, poem etc. If there is a universal truth in these arts, it would affect the souls of other people as they would find the Truths in these fictions even if it can’t be proven. The characters and situation may be imaginary in the fiction but the truth in the art can be realized by the eyes of the soul. Thus an art is nothing but the Truth that can’t be explained by logic or reason. Thus art is a method of the expression of truths that are not to be proven by logic or scientific evidences but to be realized by the heart or emotions of the beholder.

Yet, it does not mean that art is without logic or evidence. No person would accept an illogical idea as art. If the movies or the fiction are devoid of logic, people can never accept it. However, the artist is under no obligation to give logic to what he says or does nor to provide evidence for it.

Religious principles too require prove by the society. It, therefore, has harder criterion for acceptance. The truth of the religion must be tested with real people. In most cases, the Prophets or Gurus themselves provide the proof of the truth by applying it on themselves and satisfying the inquisitiveness of the other people by providing satisfactory replies to their doubts. The life of Jesus or Mohammad is a proof that their truths were real and acceptable to the society. Same can be said with Buddha, Jain and Guru Nanak and so with the originators of the numerous sects. Imagine, if Buddha would have said the same things, while he was a dacoit or a thief. No one would have listened to his words. Thus religions too require proof.

If the religion claims supernatural and metaphysical consequences, people expect miracles from the prophets and Gurus. However, no such miracles are expected in the religions that are based on logic, notably Buddhism and Jainism. Thus the truth of the religion has to be tested by the people over time. Only when, religion has been tested over long period of time, it is accepted by the people as a matter of faith. Faith is not the cause of the religion but the consequence of its Truth.

The truth of a religion is applicable for the society, hence it must convince a society by making it stronger, merrier and more harmonious. It is a historical fact that Christianity, Islam and Hinduism did play an important role in the integration of large number of people in Europe, Middle East and Indian subcontinents and made its follower more powerful, prosperous and happier.

A scientific theory too starts with an imagination or hypothesis made by the scientist. However, a scientist has to convince the world by providing material evidence to the theory. It can be either in the form of experiments or in the form of logic. Yet material evidence is the core of science. For example, even though, Einstein gave the special theory of relativity in 1905 and the general theory of relativity in 1916, based on which he predicted the bending of starlight in the vicinity of a massive body such as the Sun, yet his hypothesis was confirmed only in 1919 during an eclipse of the Sun. It is only then, the scientific community accepted his theories and awarded him the Noble prize for the paper of photoelectric that was written in 1905. Since the truth of science pertains to matters, hence it has to be tested on matter.


Arts, Science and Religion find their origin from the imagination of the human mind. Yet all imaginations may not be true. Therefore, each imagination has to proven before it is accepted by the world. Thus these are the branches of the same tree as rightly said by Einstein as they all represent the truth, thoughts of God or the secret of the universe that are revealed to human mind from his imagination.

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Source by Dr Awdhesh Singh