Science vs. Spirituality

Tim Machesney of Dean’s World posts a Michael Levy essay, The Bonding of Science and Spirituality, wherein he “argues [that] the sciences — which in recent times have paid little attention to spiritual matters — may find their research into the universe has a spiritual dimension.”

I’ve been reading essays and articles such as this for 12 years or so now. Still, I remain skeptical. I suggest reading the comments that follow the essay in order to get a readjustment. However, none of the comments that I read, except one, touch on the basic and fundamental flaw in this essay and the many books that have been written advancing the notion that “science is getting closer all the time.”

The fundamental flaw is that once scientific knowledge is gained in some area, then that area is no longer the province of spirituality. It’s science. Science cannot explicate the inexplicable. Where realms beyond human sensory experience are purported to exist, such “realms” are beyond any attempt by science to “discover” them. For, upon any such “discovery,” they clearly were not beyond human sensory experience to begin with, and thus not “spiritual.”

To put it simply, you can’t get there from here.

For some, and I include myself among them, this fact is enough in itself to hold skeptical against taking much stock in spirituality as any sort of general guide to living one’s life. Why? Because moral principles are required to live one’s life properly, and you can’t derive objective moral principles out of something that for one, people cannot agree exists at all, and two, that we cannot directly perceive. Thus, what we have is what has happened throughout history: some privileged few claim to be “plugged into” these spiritual realms, set themselves up as authorities, and dictate to the rest what their values will be and how they will live their lives. Mix that with political power, and virtually anything goes (and, as history has shown, does).

There was a time, I’m certain, were a man’s respiration was the “wind of God,” and his beating heart, “God’s footsteps.” Knowledge is contextual. Without proper context, observations can be seen as magic, supernatural. Imagine a skydiver dropping into the Roman Coliseum during one of its spectacles 2000 years ago. The Romans possessed the same physical brains then as we do now. But to them, it would have been magic; God stuff. Today, it’s just science. The difference is context.

I recall when I first became somewhat aware of this principle. While staying home from grade school one day (~35 years ago), I recall watching an episode of Bewitched on TV. Somehow, Samantha and Daren found themselves in Salem, MA during the witch trials. At some point (details a bit foggy), one of the characters pulled out a ballpoint pen. Witchcraft.

So, yesterday’s supernatural spirituality is today’s science and technology; and today’s supernatural spirituality is perhaps tomorrow’s science and technology. And here’s what I mean that you can’t get there from here. There will likely always be a “spiritual realm.” That realm exists, in the sense that no matter how far scientific knowledge progresses, there will remain things unexplained and such apparent inexplicability will forever be used as grounds to believe in the “supernatural.”

Unfortunately for believers, science will never prove or disprove the existence of God. It won’t even come close. For, in the most fundamental terms, God is whatever science is not. Nothing can bridge that gap.

(link via Improved Clinch)

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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