The Rational, Irrational & Spiritual

Musings on Science, Culture and Theology

  • "it is the revised understanding of the nature of human beings, and of the causal role of human consciousness in the unfolding of reality, that is, I believe, the most exciting thing about the new physics, and probably, in the final analysis, also the most important contribution of science to the well-being of our species." - Henry Stapp

  • But now for many years, i cannot endure to read a line of poetry. I have tried lately to read Shakspeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my tastes for pictures or music. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.- Charles Darwin

  • "Just as heat and smoke are symptoms of fire, so conciousness is the symptom of soul. ...Knowledge means to know matter and spirit and the controller of both." - Bhaktivedanta Swami

An Introduction and the Nomenclature

Posted by Bharat Davey on April 6, 2014

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Hello & Welcome! As an introduction i would say that this is about assessing the whole, not the parts. Fitting the jig saw puzzle,so to say, of ‘Reality’. About the form of knowledge we call science, its history, its public perception,its success, its failures.Will not gobble down what is dished out on a platter . It’s about finding a sane voice in science(there are many). Quantum Physicist Henry Stapp tells us in his ground breaking  book The Mindful Universe,

“The proposition, foisted upon us by a materialism based on classical physics – that we human beings are essentially mechanical automata, with every least action and thought fixed from the birth of the universe by microscopic clockwork-like mechanisms – has created enormous difficulties for ethical theory. These difficulties lie like the plague on Western culture, robbing its citizens of any rational basis for self-esteem or self-respect, or esteem or respect for others. Quantum physics, joined to a natural embedding ontology, brings our human minds squarely into the dynamical workings of nature…”

Hence Rational.

What would you say about a person who dropped his keys down the block and is searching frantically for it in someplace else only because light is better there!? If you ask me, words fail me. But this has been the guiding principle for doing science for most part since its inception some 300 years ago.

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.”- Lewontin, Richard, “Billions and Billions of Demons”, (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. The New York Review of Books, 9 January 1997, page 31)

Hence Irrational.

So is the Reality wholly material as sciences so far have been appearing to espouse? If not, than non material aspects of Reality has to surface no matter what. The quantum revolution in early 20th century demonstrated just that. It brought into focus causal role of consciousness, whose mere mention till the end of the 19th century was a taboo in science. This was a very profound shift away from wholly materialistic worldview of classical physics. Renowned quantum physicist Eugene Wigner says,

“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”

Was it science’s and therefore modern civilization’s greatest mistake so far in viewing reality on purely physical basis divorcing it from any meaning, purpose and values? Has the mindless application of technology, following this principle as it would seem , been the cause of unprecedented environmental crisis we are facing today? Says biologist Rupert Sheldrake in his book The Science Delusion-Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry,

“For more than two hundred years, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex machines, minds are nothing but brain activity and nature is purposeless. Believers are sustained by the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance ‘promissory materialism’ because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made. Despite all the achievements of science and technology, materialism is now facing a credibility crunch that was unimaginable in the twentieth century. Its promises have not been fulfilled, and its promissory notes have been devalued by hyperinflation.I am convinced that the sciences are being held back by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas, maintained by powerful taboos. These beliefs protect the citadel of established science, but act as barriers against open-minded thinking.”

Traditional holistic wisdom world over has always had an inclusive, harmonious vision integrating mind and matter and specifically the East has much detail. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics remarked that,

“Our science – Greek science – is based on objectification. …But I do believe that this is precisely the point where our present way of thinking does need to be amended, perhaps by a bit of blood-transfusion from Eastern thought.”

Bhaktivedanta Swami who very effectively transplanted authentic wisdom of the East to the West and all over the world says,

“Just as heat and smoke are symptoms of fire, so consciousness is the symptom of soul. …Knowledge means to know matter and spirit and the controller of both.”

New science has just begun to acknowledge consciousness. Will it discover the soul also? And in doing so will there be a grand synthesis between science & spirituality? Says renowned neuropsychologist Karl Pribram,(Quoted from the Savijnanam, Journal of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Kolkata-Vol.1,2002),

“Today there are stirrings, especially in quantum physics and cognitive science that bode well for such a renewal of science in a holistic and wholesome modus operandi. I think that in this century, science will be admitted to the spiritual aspects of mankind,and vice versa…”

Hence Spiritual

This blog is not about science bashing. Oh no. Let me just say that i choose to be a follower of positive sciences rather than the negative sciences. And my guide will also be the theistic tradition of the East. This is what i mean by ‘the whole’.For me this is about organizing my thoughts and putting it on record. This is for my enrichment, my fulfillment, my growth. We are living in exciting times and this is an exciting journey. Come join!

(Picture Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com)

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