Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stephen Hawking, Sam Harris, etc.

On Friday, November 5, NPR’s Ira Flatow hosted a discussion on Science & Morality by four philosophers and scientists. One of them was Sam Harris, best known for his book, The End of Faith. As readers can see in my previous posts, I agree with much that he says, but Friday’s discussion pitted science against religion with science coming out on top. I never heard the word “spiritual,” although I admit I didn’t hear the beginning of it.

What I heard reinforces my opinion that the gap between believers and non-believers in “God” could be narrowed if both sides distinguished between religions and spirituality and if both sides spoke about spiritual reality instead of “God,” which carries negative religious baggage. The four indicated their disdain for religion when they answered a listener’s question: “How can science and religion inform each other?” Their answer: Religion cannot inform science—it’s a one-way street.

Scientists take pride in their discipline providing factual proof, and they charge that religion teaches beliefs not supported by facts. That’s true, but see my previous post for why it’s no reason to disdain spirituality. I use the word “spirituality” because religions do teach a lot of nonsense. What’s missing from the perspective of materialistic science is the whole realm of Spirit. Many scientists fail to realize that physical facts don't make up the entire body of truth.

In another part of the discussion, the panelists mentioned compassion, love, and gratitude but failed to identify them as spiritual values. They couldn’t decide whether these values are subject to scientific experiment. Although sociologists do studies around the edges of these realities, science can’t determine what is honorable, who is compassionate, how much love exists in a marriage, what makes people trust, how to encourage altruism, why gratitude eases relationships, and so on.

If they were able to distinguish spirituality from religion, they’d realize that spiritual values lie outside the purview of science. And they might be closer to realizing that science cannot settle the question of whether God exists, it can’t say why we distinguish right from wrong. And they might have the humility to admit that humans need spiritual help. I don’t quibble with their definition of morality—whatever contributes to the well-being of humans and animals. But science in no way has all the answers for our well-being.

Interestingly, this quotation emerged from the Science Friday discussion, presumably to challenge foolish religious beliefs that contradict science.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, is still there.
Very good. It challenges religious nonsense, and I challenge scientists to consider that spiritual reality exists whether or not they believe in it. The spiritual realm exists despite religion’s often poor representation of it.

Not explained by science (November 13)
Scientific materialists accept as real only the concrete, physical universe, but undoubtedly-real experiences of real people invalidate their denial of spiritual reality. Readers can find some in my blog index under "Paranormal" and here is Maxine Moe's story:
I awoke in the middle of the night with the news that my home was on fire. I sat up, sniffed the air, and listened. There was nothing wrong. I called it a dream and went back to sleep. Again I woke. My home was burning. This time I became more fully awake, sniffed the air repeatedly, and listened more carefully. There was no smoke in the air. All was peaceful downstairs where the two cats and dog slept. Nothing was amiss. I went back to sleep. A third time I woke. My home was on fire. This time I got out of bed to look out the windows to see if another building was on fire, the barn or old garage, or maybe the neighbor’s house across the road. All was fine, there was nothing wrong. I went back to sleep.

The next morning I was sitting down to breakfast when the phone rang. It was my sister to say that our childhood home, that I so dearly loved, burned to the ground during the night.
How do we know what we know, when it is beyond human knowing?

Over thirty-five years ago when my husband and I were young and trying to make a go of life against pretty great odds, we were living in an old house that we were trying to restore on a very modest income. We were deep in debt and living without basics people take for granted. We had no choice but to continue with a project that was greater than our ability and I didn’t know how we could go on, much less finish this project, while holding down jobs and raising a family. However, as I said, we had no choice. How to do it was the question. We had no money. Anyone who has done any remodeling knows that everything you do costs at least twice as much as originally planned. We simply could not afford to do it anymore.

While living this question, I spent a full day gathering all the information needed to have our taxes done by someone who knew how to claim every deduction possible. At the end of the day I placed all the information in an envelope and set it aside.

That night I dreamed that we would receive an amount something like $1,647 (I don‘t remember the exact numbers except that there were four different numbers). When I woke I thought, “What a pleasant dream!” Later in the day, we met with the tax man who told us we’d get the exact amount refunded to us as I had dreamed the night before.

Please realize, I am NOT good with figures. Maybe someone who is could have worked through them and subconsciously come up with some appropriate figure. I am not one of those people. This amount, which for most people may not seem like much now, was enough for us to go on and finish the project—which gave us the impetus to tackle the next one, and so on. We did, eventually, finish the necessary projects.

How do we know what we know, when it is beyond human knowing?
Maxine's sincerity can't be doubted. I'd like to know how scientific materialists—the likes of Stephen Hawking, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc.—would account for paranormal phenomena like Maxine's dreams, which invalidate the materialists' reduction of reality to material reality alone.

1 comment:

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Spiritual Reality exists I agree. Thanks.

Radhasoami Faith View of Modus Operandi of Creation of Universe

Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe.
Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of Creation of Universe.
Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and none else was there. There issued forth a great current of spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh, and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful sound. It brought forth the creation of seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats, among themselves, brought the creation into being.
These currents descended down further and brought the whole universe/multi verse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were born.
I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar. Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region of Sat Lok and region below to it only.