Sunday, 27 March 2011

The spiritual vs science problem

The now age-old problem of seeking unity between religious faith and scientific rationalism seems as intractable as the gap between the schism of the two fields of the great human endeavour to seek meaning. In strictly militaristic terms that the Western Mind has chosen to state the problem, it truly seems hopeless.

On the one hand, science seems to have given up and, in fact, has denied any meaning of the quest for truth; on the other, faith seems now uncertain of its rightful role in the psychology of being human. East and west, and never the twain shall meet... "Nudge, nudge. wink, wink. Say no more. Say no more," to quote Monty Python.

Historians of Science and of Religion are wont to point out the cruel irony that the "fathers of rationalism", such as Copericus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. were all fervently religious. But that reason won out over religion "in this great battle". That may be so. But it has never been satisfactory to rely solely on dogma, whether scientific or religious, to definitively answer any question. Definitively answer...

How very cruel a conclusion.

The quest for spiritual and scientific truth (or satisfaction, if you perfer) is less about definitive answers, less about conflict, than a personal journey in search of meaning. Science is the great authority on the questions of "how" the material universe is structured, but it doesn't even concern itself with the question of "why"; Religious faith is the great authority on the questions of "why" and letting matters of "how" work themselves out.

In IQ philosophy, there is no such schism. Science may be knowledge par excellence, but without wisdom to guide us human beings, without reflection, scientific knowledge on its own has dangerous consequences of global import. Any and all information/use of a resource is carefully weighed and considered because more often than not we have only one shot at solving a problem: which of the lesser evils, and which of the best outcomes, can we live with and are willing to accept?

In IQ, a human being is incomplete and immature (or more liable to make fatal mistakes) without the benefits of both knowledge and wisdom to inform his/her actions and thought. Silatuniq (being wise) and silainniq (lacking wisdom) have the same root as sila- "the universe" because IQ epistemology is based on the how and the way things work in the universe (which is seen as ultimately fair and just). This is more akin to Taoism of ancient China, where the ideal is to follow the workings and nature of the universe rather than wishful thinking.

There is an importance difference between "wishful thinking" and "interpreting" the significance of events, history and outcomes of action or thought. The latter follows accepted rules of social behaviour and cosmological logic with social/cosmological justice as a motive, and the former is sheer childishness and complete denial of reality, pure invention of a subjective mind.

As a believer in scientific thought, I'm critically aware of its short-comings, and view knowledge or facts without context as utterly meaningless and psychologically unsatisfying. As a believer in spirituality, I do not believe in ready-made, inherently passive definitive answers. But that we can and must seek personal meaning and social/cosmological justice to achieve some psychological maturity. We may never achieve the ideal end, but that is not the point that's important to me - it is the growing and maturing as a human being that drives me on.

Jay

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