This article from Philip Sherrard really makes one think..
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. We will all become Borg. Or not..? That's the question.
Joe, as to the discussion on reductionism/physicalism, I have just discovered a website that is close to what I had in mind: http://www.newdualism.org/newtheory.htm
(the new dualism archive). It would be nice if they had a forum where ideas were explained a bit simpler, though.
Thanks Capt. Anand:
You make some good points, though most relate not to my point of over-dependency on technology. About responsibility: basically everyone has responsibility for what s/he thinks and does.
Religion has been (and is being) abused to wield power over people, agreed. One could argue that science now has the status that religion once had (certainly in the Western world), with similar dangers and excesses. In India many farmers committed suicide after incurring huge debts because of genetically manipulated seeds (and associated problems), sold by certain companies to them. See the responsibility issue?
Genetically modified crops have cross-bred with wild plants, irreversibly changing the flora. Responsibility? The industrial revolution has brought countless millions into horrible conditions, both in the previous centuries and this one. Responsibility?
I can go on, but the new technology really raises fundamental ethical questions that are not easily answered. We'll see how humanity evolves. It is a distinct possibility that our dependency on technology will lead to a new kind of slavery. Already governments and others can monitor our online actions, phone conversations and mobility. What's next?
I may agree with you about missing the point. There are too many. Allow me to express a few.
Philip Sherrard is not alone in setting the limits of spirituality. As if humanity can evolve but spirituality should remain frozen. Is that feasible? It is such world-view which propagates alarmist's perceptions about science. When has science not been included in the spirituality since the development of speech and discovery of fire?
Traditional spirituality has used processes like magic, miracles, elaborate rituals, doctrines etc., to gain control over human mind and make them slaves to a one particular thought system. Faith, belief, prayers etc. - are these not thought control processes? New technologies are only attempting to make these processes more efficient. Or, shall we take the position that "interventional processes" (planting a biochip inside the human body) is wrong and we should stick with the non-interventional techniques of thought control.
Is moralty a static concept? Should only scientists have moral responsibility and not others. Why it is moral for philosophers to experiment with different concepts but immoral for scientists to experiment with different technologies? It is easy to imagine what debates would have taken place when humanity first discovered the most destructive element(?) in the universe - Fire.
What cures have traditionalists followed for humans who deviated from social norms? Socrates is just one example that comes to mind, amongst countless others. Would traditional spiritualist find it moral?
When eminent Physicist like Roger Penrose conduct experiment to develop theory like "Embedded Platonic Information System at Planckian Scale in the Universe", and find that information can travel faster than light, it is spirituality because this is how universal consciousness may be defined in future. If genetic manipulation can allow humans to get rid of greed, it is spirituality.
As mentioned in my last post, scientific spirituality (Pranava Vada - avaialble for download from Sudha Dharma Mandala ETRI link on this site) dictates that there is a necessity as well as futility to this debate.
"Perhaps part of that role may fall to those like us"
IMO, one of the most useful things theosophers could do is to get a grip on the question of reductionism/physicalism and start discussing these things with like-minded philosophers/psychologists/neuroscientists/etc. Something good may come out of that. Why stay stuck in the 19th century mindset?
I repost my link to a recent book on these matters here:
Sorry Capt. Anand, you seem to miss the point entirely. While the article may contain little that is new to you, this posting is not about science bashing, but about the dangers of extreme reductionism: for example, as in neuroscience, taking consciousness as a by-product of states of matter. This latter view leads to the treatment of humans as a biological machine. If a human deviates from the social norm, inject a pill, suppress the symptoms - problem solved. Or not?
Science is not value-free. Scientists have moral responsibility for their research. And this goes further than things as vivisection (largely abandoned now, I think). There's a whole medical technology coming up for diagnostic purposes and treatment, involving nanotechnology, DNA technology and what have you more. The time will not be too far off that insurance companies will insist that their insured/policyholders have their DNA checked and in case of proneness to certain diseases, wear a tiny machine on their body (part of it inside) that monitors their condition. This may look fine, until one realizes that our dependency on technology is growing stronger every year. We become slaves of our own technology. The possibility of control (and misuse) of the population becomes stronger too. Your view seems to be an example of the old Modernism - still going strong. I do wonder how many people realize the inherent dangers in all this. Probably very few, as there is no education on this, as far as I am aware.
Thanks Martin. I read with interest but found nothing new in the arguments.
What is objectionable? Science or the Philosophy behind its application? Nuclear Power or its intended use?
It would appear that Spiritualism has been after science since aeons but its rate of loss of battle has accelerated in recent past. Perhaps due to advances made by science in the field of communication. While Spiritualists have always attempted to hide the knowledge, scientists have responded by attempting to liberate it. And, the effects are telling.
The question I ask myself is what is proposed as traditional spirituality - a blind faith in GOD, an unverifiable information constrainment system, clash with evolution etc., can these really be termed spirituality? I would prefer to term it pseudo-spirituality. The real spirituality comes with understanding of the Quantum reality, Embedded Information System at Planckian Scale in the Universe and other such theories. True, most scientist believe that their theories are mere hypotheses, but at least they are honest in admitting so, unlike their pseudo-spirtualist counterparts who can propose anything under the sun without even a hint of verifiable proof, as the Gospel Truth.
Materialism is a product of psychology and not science. Scientists will do well to identify the proteins that make a person materialistic within their DNA and isolate it. They will have then achieved what great spiritualist teachers like Gautam Budha and many others in the history have not been able to.
Great scientists are all spiritualists and vice versa. Please refer to David Reigle's posts on the Pranava Vada in the "Stanzas of Dzyan" blog. The author, Rishi Gargayana termed his work as "The Sacred Science of AUM". If one applies the I-This-Not Am principle in this science versus spiritulaity debate, its necessity as well as futility will become clear.
It is interesting to note that the collapse of marxism has now forced the romantic intellectuals to shift their object of affection towards science.
Martin, here's some sources for you and others to look at. This is only a small sampling of the many scientists and thinkers out there who are not only opposing the reductionist/materialist paradigm, but are moving toward an active alternative. There is no big umbrella organization that they all belong to, as far as I know, but there are cluster groups.
Dr. Deepak Chopra every year hosts a "Sages and Scientists" seminar. Here's the link to this year's gathering in late February. The speakers are pictured and their info can be found by clicking on them.
Dr. Gary Schwartz, U. of Arizona, is doing pioneering research in contacting spirits in the afterlife, using strict scientific protocol. Check this out. Sign-up for the videos is free:
Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, quantum physicist, has been writing about quantum physics and sprirituality for decades: http://www.fredalanwolf.com
Dr. Rick Strass, MD, did a much praised study on DMT and alternate realities written about in "The Spirit Molecule." His new book this year will be on prophecy: http://rickstrass.com
This barely scratches the surface, but goes to show there is a thriving force moving against the reductionist/materialist model.
Thanks, Martin, for this post. Also, the video "Science As A Belief System" with Arthur M. Young you put up is excellent. Certainly, mainstream science is controlled by the reductionist/materialists paradigm mindset. But, all is not lost, for there is a minority of scientists and thinkers who repudiate this and are bringing the transcendental and Spirit back into science. And they are speaking up.
Too numerous to list here, but one has only to glance over the Quest Books(subsidiary of The Theosophical Society) catalog. Besides them, there is Inner Traditions Books from Bear & Company; and Hay House Publication to name only three among many smaller publishers. Plus, every major Book Publisher has a "New Age" and "Metaphysical" wing that regularly puts out titles. "Sages and Scientists" and "Science and Spirit" Conferences are cropping up all over the world annually.
It's heartening, although a great deal more has to be done to educate the general public about the narrowness of the materialist approach. Unfortunately, our whole world culture now is saturated with the assumption that reductionist science is the final word concerning "facts" and "truth."
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