Posted by: Nito | July 13, 2011

Religion can be scientific

Science prides itself for using an objective, scientific, method. Scientific method stands for a range of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. Such techniques must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence. The core of the scientific method is that whatever is postulated as a hypothesis must be verifiable by a prescribed experiment(s), with steps that are repeatable. This is to remove all biased interpretations and build objective understanding of the Nature (phenomena).

By definition, God is the spiritual noumenon, inaccessible to measurements and experiments that are designed to study phenomena. God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).

And yet, He also said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). This “be still” defines the prerequisite for the scientific method to be also applicable in the field of religion. If you are still, you will surely succeed in the “experiment” to know and prove God for yourself. To be still means to calm the mind, so after it ceases to play with the myriads of human thoughts, it could start to clearly receive input from God. To still the mind also means to “disconnect” it from the senses, which are providing constant input, so that mind is constantly busy, producing emotional reaction to the stimuli and it doesn’t have time to process more subtle divine input.

Mind is essentially a receiving instrument—it’s not a factory of thoughts as we think. We don’t own our thoughts, we just tune-in to the particular strata of thoughts, so that particular kinds of thoughts (available in that strata) are received by our minds. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” Now, think of this. Did Satan openly appear to David to suggest he do this trespass in the eyes of the Lord? No, Satan spoke to David’s mind, placing an idea that was seemingly very good. David started thinking, “If I would know how many people I have for war, I could better plan my campaigns.” David liked the idea so much that even when he was told it would displease God he didn’t listen. In the end he did number the people and God did punish the whole nation.

So, the moral of the story is that some thoughts come from God, some from the devil and some are simply coming from your own flesh (i.e. fleshly desires—see James 1:13-15). Depending on the state of their mind each individual would entertain a different mixture of thoughts. This mixture would form the “tainted glass” through which they would see the world.

But, if you would want to research, objectively measure, analyse and discuss the state of the mind and the experience of God which a particular saint had, you would have to put your mind into the same state as he or she had. You cannot reasonably expect to achieve proper and valid results from the thought experiment called “Replicating St. Frances’ relationship with God”, unless you would put yourself into the same state of mind as St. Francis had.

It’s true that you would be able to guess and gain some insight into St. Frances’ relationship with God by reading stories about him and what he said, but this would not be a replica of his experience, but some sort of translation of his world into yours, where you would “see” his experiences through the “tainted glass” of your own state of mind. Similarly, when science looks at the religion and religious belief it comes with its own tainted glass of materialism, which doesn’t allow for the formation of an objective view about the research subject.

And here we come to the point were it becomes clear why it’s so difficult for science to objectively study religion. It’s very difficult to use the scientific method to set up an environment where somebody’s spiritual experiences, or better said, where somebody’s state of the mind is correctly replicated. This can be done only if the researcher has the same mind as the study subject, so the researcher is able to tune-in to the same strata of thoughts as the person under study is connected to.

As one could imagine, this is not easily achieved. Experiments in the domain of consciousness require the appropriate preparation time, where the environment (i.e., one’s mind) is placed into the required initial state for the experiment to be repeatable. Therefore, religious experiences cannot be dismissed as unscientific and unrepeatable, as some scientists would like to conclude (after trying to execute religious experiments without properly setting up the initial conditions). The emphasis must be rather placed on the proper investigation and description of the target state of the mind that is required for the successful execution of the experiment.

Obviously, depending on the distance (i.e., difference) between the required target state of the mind, and that of the researcher, the preparation time will differ, but the method is always the same—by “stilling” of the mind. Proper Bible terminology for stilling of the mind is “renewing of the mind”, or changing one’s mind. So, you see, in order to adequately study religion, science would have to change its mind about God and become believing. Hence, when you see somebody talking about religion without having his or hers mind renewed, just discard their arguments as unsubstantial, because they do not posses the right environment (mind) to base their conclusions upon.

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