Revealing fact and reinforcing faith: Gravitational waves and religion in India

On 11 February 2016, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) announced that the Advanced LIGO detectors in the USA had directly observed gravitational waves (GW) on 14 September 2015. Gravitational waves (the existence of which was predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916) are ripples in space-time created by large cosmic events such as the merger of two massive black holes.  The detection is significant for it strengthens astronomers’ ability to observe some of the earliest cosmic processes – including events that followed the Big Bang. It was only expected therefore, that the age-old question of the tumultuous relationship between science and religion entered the picture yet again.

The journal publication that announced the GW detection had 35 authors from India. Apart from nationalistic pride, the GW detection also raised interesting questions for STS scholars, considering that India is the birthplace of many religious and scientific traditions. An opportunity to reflect upon these questions was the International Symposium on “The Discovery of Gravitational Waves and the Future of Religion and Society” held in Pune, India from January 20-23, 2017. The event was jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Science and Religion (IISR), Delhi and the Centre for Science and Religion Studies of Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), Pune.

Read the full article in Backchannels