Spirituality and Science Can Go Together
Are spirituality and the scientific method really opposed
to each other? First of all, just defining either concept seems
almost hopeless at times. Describing them, on the other hand,
is much easier, so let's start there.
Science is an approach to knowledge, a method. Scientists
themselves will argue forever about a definition of science,
but still agree that it is the most useful or productive method
of understanding the world. Its essential characteristics are
objective observation, the deriving of principles and "laws",
and predictions based on these. (At the point where it produces
things, it is also technology.)
It can be easily differentiated from religion by the fact
that all of the knowledge it produces can be wrong. What is "known"
through religions is typically sacred, and untouchable. Scientific
knowledge, on the other hand, is always being overthrown or refined
by further application of science. Faith is the cornerstone of
religion, but evidence is for science.
This is why "creationist" science is bogus. A creationist
"scientist" will not allow for his religiously based
beliefs to be challenged by new evidence, and will openly tell
you that his "faith" is more important to him than
the evidence. He is only using the pretense of science to support
his preconceived notions. On the other hand, many scientists
have overturned even their own theories, despite their egos,
because the essence of science is to go where the evidence leads
Combining Spirituality and Science
It would seem, then that spirituality and science contradict
one another, but this isn't so. This would only be true if all
spirituality was based on religious beliefs. Spirituality, however,
can be simply seeking the higher levels of experience, asking
the deepest questions, and seeking the true "self,"
which in no way makes it contrary to science. Science, in fact,
being a productive method of discovering new truths, can be used
for spiritual exploration and discovery.
Even a belief in God is not contrary to science, so long as
it is based on ones experience rather than faith, and so long
as it is open to change. A spiritual system of beliefs can be
a convenient way of organizing and using our knowledge and experience,
like many other scientific theories or paradigms. However, to
peacefully co-exist with science, it must be open to change.
In other words, if prayer brings you peace of mind, that's
fine. However, when the evidence shows it to be a phenomenon
involving brain chemicals, you have to accept that too if you
are to have a scientific spirituality. Scientific spirituality,
by the way, has lead to the technology of brain wave entrainment.
You can now buy CDs that will give you the same spiritual experiences
as religious meditators.
Spirituality then, can be forever seeking higher levels of
experience, and looking for the answers to the deepest questions.
Science can be forever used to help in this quest. Every answer
raises questions that are deeper yet, so there is no extinguishment
of spirituality by way of science. Spirituality is the quest,
and science may be the most effective means of continuing it.