It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Science and Spirituality: What is Reality?

In a recent online conversation I participated in, a debate arose concerning what was science and what was metaphysical or spiritual and therefore outside the realm of science and rational discussion. Here are some points I made in the course of that conversation:

  1. I see nothing inherently contradictory or conflictual between science and metaphysics (or spirituality). Both offer complementary explanations for the phenomena we sense in the world, through our outer, exoteric senses as well as  through our inner, esoteric senses. And we do have both.
  2. I myself have come to a sense of the mystical (or metaphysical, or spiritual) from a background in physics and systems engineering, a lifelong quest to understand the holistic nature of nature. Not leaving science behind but transcending and including it. This quest received a huge boost when I read Fritjof Kapra’s The Tao of Physics, which demonstrated that quantum physics is bringing Western science to the same conclusions that Eastern mystics have “known” already for thousands of years.
  3. Quantum physicist David Bohm wrote about the implicate order and the explicate order. The latter being that which we can see, hear, feel, taste, touch, and smell and, through science, have come to understand (at least think we understand). The implicate is all the rest of reality. The job of science is to push back the frontier between the two, to bring the implicate out of the mists and into the light of the explicate.
  4. Importantly, though, we must be humble about and hold lightly what we think we know for, through science, what we know is always changing and evolving. That’s why I often put “know” in quotes. After all, the scientific method doesn’t and can’t really prove anything. It can only disprove. Hypotheses are posited and tested, and, if a hypothesis passes a test, we can only say that it is not yet disproven.
  5. I forget exactly, but in the late 19th century, a scientist (I forget who), upon hearing about a scientific advance (perhaps Maxwell’s equations?) declared that, now, everything was known and that was the end of science. Nothing more to be discovered. And then along came Einstein and his special theory of relativity, and it was off to the races again.
  6. Speaking of Einstein, he’s my favorite philosopher. Here are a few Einstein quotes:

a.       Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
b.      “When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.”
c.       “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
d.      “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”
e.       “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”

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