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I used to subscribe to Skeptic magazine. I love science. I enjoyed reading the likes of Martin Gardner, the former Mathematical Games columnist of Scientific American. Martin was then replaced by Douglas Hofstadter who was even more brilliant. (His books are powerful play for mathematical/musical/linguistic minds, especially the original Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.)
I also enjoyed James Randi, Isaac Asimov, and Michael Shermer.
Yet none of them believe in the Soul or in God. They can look at a little girl holding a doll, and feel nothing odd or irrational in pointing at the doll and saying, “That has obviously been designed by a creative mind” and then point at the girl and declare, “That is not the result of a design by a creative mind.”
I finally had to end my subscription to Skeptic. Why? I simply got tired of the rather sloppy, hypocritical, unscientific attacks on believers in Soul or God.
Specifically, I got tired of rationalists who could attack the leap of faith (and anecdotal experiences) of many Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, when these same rationalists failed to recognize their own leap of faith denying the existence of Soul or God.
I can understand if they say there is no scientific proof, and that they simply do not know. But they abdicate their right to claim to be scientific when they declare that there is no Soul or God.
The Micro-Scientific Method
Many authorities, particularly rationalists, insist that reality is best explained consistently through the Scientific Method of experimentation. Anecdotal evidence is always suspect, so consistent results of experiments conducted by a variety of researchers offer better evidence for the truth of a proposition. Never mind that science is essentially a series of anecdotal experiences.
(Really, when was the last time you had direct, first-hand experience with anything “scientifically proven”? Almost all that you believe to be scientifically proven is really based on the authority of anecdotal stories. How often have you opened the newspaper only to discover that the latest studies show that all previous studies are wrong? How often have you believed the new anecdotal scientific story has proven that the previous anecdotal scientific story is wrong? Is your belief “scientific”?)
I call this the Macro-Scientific Method. It’s the staple of our media diet of statistics and research and studies. It carves out a very particular, very narrow domain of experience and declares that to be truth. Don’t get me wrong. The Macro-Scientific method goes far in the “hard sciences” in revealing material truths. Especially when it comes to medical science.
But there is also a Micro-Scientific Method, which carves out a far larger domain of experience and truth. This Method centers on one’s own personal experience rather than on authoritative studies.
I know what thoughts I had 10 minutes ago. What those thoughts are can only be known by me. I cannot scientifically prove them to anyone. If I tell anyone, that’s declared to be anecdotal. But they’re still true.
The hubris of the rationalists at Skeptic magazine is that they can selectively negate all that is provable through the Micro-Scientific Method, through direct, personal knowing. To negate Soul and God and everything else outside the scientific domain, all that they have to do is start from the position that nothing is true except what is scientifically provable. It’s a perfect gotcha.
Why not start from the position that everything is possible, and only negate what is scientifically proven not to be so?
Oops. Sorry. That would allow too much possibility.
The Two Traditions
We dwell in the western tradition that goes back to the Greeks. We center ourselves in the philosophical tradition that starts with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and goes through Augustine, Erasmus, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Mill, Darwin, Marx, Freud, James, Wittgenstein, and Turing.
The philosophical tradition is primarily one of interpreting reality with the mind.
The other tradition is the initiatory tradition. This is the tradition of enlightenment, conversion, direct knowing, revelation, learning from the feet of an inspired master, or directly from Spirit of God or something.
The initiatory tradition bypasses the mind and supplies knowing directly, through some kind of direct experience, often inexplicable, beyond language, and sometimes sending someone into such a state that rationalists want to lock them away. It’s very unscientific because it’s exceedingly personal and unprovable to others.
The initiatory tradition interprets truth outside the mind. Perhaps directly by this thing called Soul.
Of course many people combine both traditions into any number of combinations.
People, especially rationalists, look at this world and the so-called problem of evil (most often encapsulated in the statement, How can a God allow children to suffer?) and declare that there can be no God. There is no way to reconcile a loving God with the nature of this world.
Maybe not. But let’s try an experiment.
Forget all that you know. Forget all that you believe regarding science and religion and philosophy. Detach yourself from your cherished anchor points. Try this thought experiment:
Suppose you were an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being. Suppose you had the impulse to create. The question that begins the thought experiment is simple.
What would you create?
And then ask yourself, Is there a divinely inspired construction that provides a lovingly grand reason for suffering and also ensures that every Soul makes it?
Relax. It’s only a thought experiment.Published in