Wednesday 6 May 2015

The Poverty of the Scientific Worldview

In the past I have sometimes been accused of being anti-science because I contest its materialistic bias and dispute its claims to be the surest road to knowledge. I have usually replied that I am not anti-science but against the belief science has that what it knows is all that can be known (either now or at some theoretical time in the future as its knowledge unfolds), and that its modes of operation are the best way to discern what is real. More recently, however, I have revised that opinion and I would now have to say that, yes, I am anti-science or at least what science has made of itself. I will tell you why.

If we take the birth of science in the modern sense as being in the 16th century (a somewhat arbitrary date but more or less accurate), we can see that, whatever the reasons for its initial awakening in the Western consciousness, it soon began to regard itself as the rival to religion rather than its companion and ally. The spiritual worldview founded on faith, which, properly understood, is the openness that encourages the development of intuition, was replaced by a strictly rational approach that rejected anything that could not be confirmed by the senses or proved by reason. I simplify to make a point but this is a broadly correct description of what took place during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Scientists came to believe that mathematics could describe reality, failing to see that mathematics can only describe that limited aspect of reality which it describes, which aspect is but a minute fraction of the whole; one that leaves out whole swathes of reality including the essential part. This part is known through the imagination and intuition, confirmed by scripture and revelation and can be accessed by following the traditional spiritual path and disciplines. However, being beyond form and quantity, it falls outside investigation by a science which limits itself to the external world or that which is immediately apparent to the senses and the mind as normally conceived. Science simply denied what it could not investigate by its own methods, and rejected any other methods or means of approach to reality. It hobbled itself because of its lack of vision, but also because of the unadmitted though quite evident desire for power of its priesthood. In effect, science became the authoritarian church that, in part, it had originally come into being to contest. The religious worldview of the time needed to be balanced, that much is certain, but balance requires equilibrium and pretty soon the scales became weighted far too heavily on the side that favoured fact over meaning.

Now we have a situation in which the scientific worldview is the orthodox one, and heretics are either ridiculed (which admittedly is better than being burned) or dismissed as unintelligent. Even religious people (other than fundamentalists, of course), because they have grown up in a world in which we are all conditioned by the authorities to follow a certain way of thinking, give precedence to science in more and more areas. To the extent sometimes of allowing it to determine how much or how little space should be accorded to their religious beliefs. The undoubted achievements of science on the technological side and the fact that it has made our material lives considerably easier also influence us all to give it our intellectual allegiance when perhaps we should be more discerning.

For there is a problem. Notwithstanding its achievements in the material world and its exposure of much superstition and ignorance, modern science rests on a falsehood because it denies, or sees no reason to acknowledge, metaphysical reality. That is not, of course, the way it would look at itself but it is a truth known to anyone who, either intuitively or through faith, sees that the basis of life is spiritual. This has enormous consequences for how we understand and live in the world, but it also means that science doesn't even understand its own field of operation, the material plane. Why? Because without metaphysical knowledge you cannot even comprehend the natural world properly as you will see what you expect to see according to your pre-existing assumptions which in the case of modern science are entirely materialistic.

This why I maintain that the greatest calamity to befall the human race over the last several centuries is the adoption of the scientific/materialistic/atheistic worldview. I say this because it has resulted in a catastrophic separation of Man from his true being. It has cut us adrift from spiritual reality and led us into an unrecognised hubris, the hubris of a creature that denies its Creator. Now, it is true that the great majority of people are passive victims of this mindset, it being the accepted orthodoxy of the day and therefore hard to resist. But there are some who are active promulgators of this false doctrine and they, whether they know it or not, are doing the devil's work. Very possibly because they share his main vice and besetting sin which is intellectual pride.

For there are some atheists who are so not for supposed rational reasons (mistaken but honest) but because they do not want to live in a universe in which there is a God. One in which they will have to acknowledge a Creator. And these people use science to bolster their prejudice not for a disinterested view of the matter. And they can do this because science is not disinterested, not disinterested enough anyway, as it wants to extend the field in which it has power and authority as far as possible, squeezing out any rival it may have in terms of knowledge. Since religion and metaphysics claim an authority beyond the realm open to science they must be dismissed, preferably as archaic relics from humanity's childhood.

There are, of course, plenty of scientists dedicated to the pursuit of truth as they see it, but they are fatally handicapped by the basic materialistic premise of science as it is understood today as well as their over-reliance on the human intellect. This is why I maintain that the dogmas of science (and it certainly has them) corrupt the mind. For science is concerned only with outer things, but outer things are transient and ultimately unreal except considered as the expression of inner spiritual archetypes which are the only true reality. Consequently scientists will never get to grips with the true nature of things until they abandon their prejudices and preconceptions and humble themselves before the divine.

None of the points I raise here mean that I don't recognise that in the greater scheme of things, and in the context of the times in which it arose, a materialistic science had a part to play. However we are currently trapped in a period of over-dominance by science, and its basic premise is a profound metaphysical error that needs correcting. The good that a purely earthbound science could do, it has done. The evil that it has brought about now needs to be addressed, and urgently. Humanity needs to move on into a future in which science will still play its part but only once it has been radically reformed and brought into line with spiritual wisdom. There is no doubt that it has helped correct previous errors and oversights, but it is now responsible for the greatest error of all which is the denial of spiritual truth. And that is why I am anti-science.

It may be thought that I have over-stated my case to make a point, and perhaps I have. But I see no reason to beat about the bush when the world situation is as far away from truth as it is today.


Robert said...

"scientific achievement made life easier" Yes and that is another reason scientific atheists cling so hard to it. They are afraid they will lose their security.
"This why I maintain that the greatest calamity to befall the human race over the last several centuries is the adoption of the scientific/materialistic/atheistic worldview."-it is a necessary calamity to waking up as a species. The gadgets science produces don't give us meaning or right and wrong with how to use it. But when we mess up we will learn.
I think it is best not to be anti-science to but to expand the scientific method into the invisible world.
Ken Wilber wrote a book on this called "the marriage of sense and soul" If you use trial and error and experimentation to seek the presence of God in this moment, your faith in God will grow although it will never amount to a formal proof for everybody; just for you. However, your learning will be reproducible to another human being.

William Wildblood said...

As I say I may have over-stated my case to make a point. I am not anti-science in the true meaning of the word. I am against what science has become due to its corruption by ideology and egotism.

William Wildblood said...

Actually this post should be read in conjunction with the next one which balances it out somewhat.