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Scientism and Dogma

August 20, 2013

“Scientism” {noun} – a dogmatic ideology that obstructs any attempt to question or challenge the generally accepted foundational concepts of modern science.

For several hundred years dualism (mind and matter are separate) held sway as the dominant ideology in science before giving way to the philosophy of materialism (nothing exists except matter and its movements) and reductionism (complex phenomena are only understood in terms of the mechanism of their perceived parts).

In his book “The Science Delusion” (pub. Coronet, 2012 – entitled “Science Set Free” in The US), the Cambridge University biologist and researcher Rupert Sheldrake makes the case that science is completely deluded in the belief that it has already essentially understood the principles and nature of reality.
Sheldrake explores the following 10 central tenets of modern science and concludes that they are actually all unsubstantiated dogma:
1. Nature is mechanical.

2. The total amount of matter and energy in the universe is always the same.

3. The laws of nature are fixed.

4. Matter is unconscious.

5. Nature is purposeless.

6. Biological inheritance is only material.

7. Memories are only stored as material traces in the brain.

8. The mind is located inside the head.

9. All psychic phenomena are illusory.

10. Only mechanistic ( standard orthodox) medicine actually works.
It is clear that while science is one of the great traditions of exploration and discovery it is also subject to the same power struggles and political agendas that exist in all other areas of human society. What is and is not accepted as legitimate evidence is often a political rather than purely scientific issue and therefore the existing system of peer review is also being called into question by Sheldrake and many others.

Science is obviously very useful in that it explains the conditions under which phenomena occur (ie how is heat produced ) but it does not understand how the fundamental conditions arise in the first place.

In other words science has, so far, been very good at inventing everything from drainage systems to the computer but very poor at understandng the underlying nature of reality and who we are. And yet knowing who we are is surely the foundation for how we think and what we do.

The existence of mind or consciousness cannot be proved objectively or empirically and yet all science is a product of mind. Science insists that reality is “out there” and can be observed independently of the mind and yet all empirical evidence is mind dependent.

It is only through quantum physics that this idea has been considered – that the observer always affects that which is observed. Science and society could benefit greatly from a theory of mind or consciousness but there is no such agreed theory in place.

Meanwhile, for thousands of years, the wisdom traditions have stated that the universe and all material phenomena emerge from unmanifest consciousness. Linear time and space are said to be ultimately illusory concepts within a multi-dimensional cosmos where the notion of a separate, individual self is considered to be a delusion. We are all waves or particles that arise in the unified continuum of consciousness. This consciousness is not an object that can be observed because it is the underlying reality of who we are and the entire universe.

So why not remain open to a serious, scientific investigation of the traditional teachings about mind and consciousness instead of blocking them as irrelevant or insignificant ? This process is just beginning in science but it can also be explored simply by anyone who wishes to sit quietly, listen and observe one’s own experience.

Who knows what leaps we may be able to make in awareness and technology with an open-minded approach ?

As Einstein famously commented – “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.”

Spencer Joseph

http://www.bodytherapeutics.co.uk

From → Consciousness

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