Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Perspective or Oversimplification?

Today is Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

 "Each of us is a tiny being, permitted to ride on the outermost skin of one of the smaller planets for a few dozen trips around the local star."  – Dr. Carl Sagan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

 On the face of it, this statement is true.  Carl Sagan, the consummate scientist, prided himself on saying things that were scientifically true, proven by objective experiments that adhered to a strict scientific protocol.  Sagan had little use for religion or faith, because he felt that religious people closed their minds to new discoveries that might upset their beliefs.  It's true that there are such people in this world.  Christians, in particular, seem to be especially guilty of this.  It's why the most conservative of them fought so hard and so long against evolution, which is now largely discredited, anyway, so arguing about it ended up to be pretty much a waste of time.   Christians were also against the idea that the earth revolved around the sun and that the earth is billions (not just thousands) of years old.  These ideas didn't do as much damage to their faith as they once imagined it would, although there are still a few holdouts.  Now, a lot of Christians are against the idea that climate change is beginning to occur more rapidly than we have ever known, and that human activity on earth may have more to do with it than we would like to admit.  I'm not saying Christians are the only ones against climate change, but they seem to be in the forefront of those against the idea.   So yes, it does seem that religion can cause people's minds to be a bit closed.

Still, I think there is a major "apples and oranges" issue with science and spirituality.  Science largely has to do with the physical universe and nothing outside of that physical universe.  Science relies on proof that is "objective," that is, a hypothesis can be verified by more than one person.  A particular result can be replicated in a lab and agreed upon by anyone who does the experiment properly.  If the results cannot be verified in some physical way, then they cannot be verified at all.

Spirituality, on the other hand, deals with the spiritual realm, heaven, if you will.  The physical world is known as the "lowest"  (lowest in vibrational terms) of the worlds of God, and there exist many other non-physical realms (higher in vibration than anything in the physical universe).  Since these realms exist at a vibrational level that is above the physical, no physical instrument can detect them, and therefore they cannot be verified by science.  In addition, spiritual experience is a phenomenon that is largely unshared; in other words, it is subjective, and not objective.  While some elements of an experience may be shared by more than one person, each person's spiritual experience as a whole is unique to that person.  Since spiritual experiences are subjective, any "proof" is also necessarily subjective.  You may have heard people say that they cannot be talked out of a belief in past lives, for example, because they have remembered one of theirs.  This is subjective proof, which relies on our gut instincts about what is true and what is not.  

It would be nice, I guess, if science could "prove" the existence of God, but basically, I don't think that will ever happen, as long as science continues to deny the existence of supra-physical realms.  Besides, what makes science any more important than spirituality, anyway?  Modern science is just now beginning to discover what many ancient spiritual paths have known for a long time.  So what if they couldn't prove it before now?

Sagan often remarked that religious people closed their minds to new ideas, but he never seemed to realize that scientists close their minds, too, to the spiritual realms of existence.  Who is more closed minded?  It's hard to say.   Meanwhile, Sagan's definition of us as tiny beings who ride on the surface of a minor planet around the local star a few dozen times totally trivializes human life.  That's not perspective. That's oversimplification.  And it's arrogant, to boot.  :-)

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