First, it must be acknowledged that while both Vedanta and science are interested in eliminating any and all obstacles to knowing the truth, they have different goals. Science tries to explain the origin, nature and processes of the natural world, while Vedanta aims to explain consciousness and remove a sense of limitation. Vedanta only explains the physically detectable universe insofar as it helps to meet the aforementioned objectives. Scientists today are mostly non-religious, but similar to Vedanta (which isn’t a religion but has theistic elements), accept the idea of an intelligent script that seemingly underlies how nature works. It’s the pursuit of this intelligent script that motivates scientists to do research and write out mathematical formulae.
While Vedanta and science might not describe the universe in the same terms, both agree that the universe exhibits an intelligence and that the material stuff of the universe can be described in terms of smaller components, forces, and information combining to form objects. Where Vedanta greatly differs from science is in showing that the ground of all experience is non-dual consciousness. Science and philosophy seem to say that only matter exists, while Vedanta says that ultimately, only consciousness exists. Vedanta has no problem with science as a means for understanding duality and the natural world, but would say that science’s attempt to find consciousness within duality is made in vain. However much scientists search for the root of consciousness in the brain and other inert matter, they will never find it for the same reason a camera can never find itself in the photograph.
Scientists will never find the source of consciousness because they can only ever verify their observations based on knowledge from the senses. Like the camera trying to find itself in the photograph, until scientists realize that what they are looking for is who/what they are, their search for consciousness will be elusive. With the exception of some internationally known and highly respected scientists from the last century (all nominated for or awarded the Nobel Prize)1, most scientists generally prefer to avoid the murky world of metaphysics (an area of study often perceived as disreputable among their colleagues). And yet, it’s a bit ironic that science has now reached a point where certain fundamental mysteries of the universe cannot be resolved without considering consciousness as a factor. This might eventually compel science to admit one day that the knowledge they are seeking has already been rigorously debated and known about for thousands of years, long before any scientific instruments.
Astrophysicist, Adam Frank makes the point that as our scientific discoveries become more profound, we can no longer ignore how we find ourselves at the center of every experience as knowers of experience, and that it’s this subjective perspective that must be taken seriously by science if we want to consider the biggest issues currently facing it.2
1 Some of the physicists who took interest in the teachings of the Vedas include: Erwin Schrodinger, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, and David Bohm.
2 Frank, Adam. “Thinking thresholds: Is science the only source of truth in the world?” Big Think. Thinking thresholds: Is science the only source of truth in the world?