Monday, November 12, 2012

the twain meets

Two quotes from the Eben Alexander book:

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. - Soren Kierkegaard

I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classified as a superstition... we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. - Sir John C. Eccles

Here's the problem: there are so many assholes on both sides. Religion and science both puff people up with Their Own Understanding and self-assurance. I've heard both sides try to convert each other using the same tactics.

I'm reading this book thinking, "This is such a big deal, but millions of religious people won't be able to see just how groundbreaking it is, because they think they know it all already, and don't care about science, even though it is saving their loved ones from things like breast cancer." Or they'll dismiss it because it isn't lining up precisely with What They Have Already Concluded. Same with scientists. This book is a BFD for science, but science has as much ego as religion, and so-called scientists won't allow themselves to be shaken up by facts outside of their present understanding, hence the Galileos of history.

Humility, humility, humility. The ability to say "I was wrong." The ability to follow truth wherever it seems to be going, to the best of your limited ability. I've followed what seemed to be the truth out of certain religious perspectives. This book is pulling me back, or rather, rounding me out. I think skepticism is a healthy and necessary human mechanism that protects us from being duped by cult leaders and psychological magicians. But science is starting to back up claims that have previously only been sheltered by the spiritual folks, and despite the rampant power abuse and lack of critical engagement in many groups of these spiritual folks - we all need to be on board.