A Non-Threatening Mystery

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The problem with the agency of ‘mystery’ as a conveyor of meaning, is that it is premised upon ‘not knowing’. This means that in the process of acquiring certainty, uncertainty becomes a prime mover. This differs from modern science in as much as the method of knowledge acquisition is dependent upon the eradication of ‘uncertainty’, as a means to secure ‘certainty’. Of course, a scientific mystery is different from a religious mystery in as much as it indicates an area of research not yet clarified through logical investigation. A religious mystery, on the other hand, provides a type of emotional support lacking in the scientific method, but does not supply a similar robust intellectual response. Yes, theology can be sophisticated, meandering, complicated, obscure and dogmatic, but it can never be scientifically ‘proven’ to be correct or to even exist – but such is the nature of reality. For some, for instance, the prospect of space travel can appear mysterious because it is unknown, but this does not mean that it is ‘unknowable’. Religion, by its very nature, is known only through its ‘unknowable’ nature, and herein lies its attraction for many people. It is not a matter of being ‘anti-religious’, but rather a matter of understanding the difference in how the human mind functions within the two systems under discussion. The problem with theistic rapture, is that the experiencer can stay in a dark cave for decades, and end his or her life staring at what is believed to be the divine, whilst contributing nothing to the scientific development of humanity. Poverty, illness, famine, drought, illiteracy and homelessness are not resolved by this approach to self-absorption. Although somekind of inner freedom is hinted at, nothing changes on the outer plain. Science, strictly speaking, does not require religion to function, and the same can be said for religion and its relationship to science. Both systems exist in parallel, but the battle in recent centuries has been which paradigm should direct human affairs – and secular science has proven its material worth by making human life better. Of course, with regards to the technologically-led destructive nature of the arms industry, a case can be made to suggest that science (at least in part), has contributed immeasurably to the over-all suffering of humanity, quite often in some of the most brutal ways imaginable. This criticism of science (and one of its uses) is undoubtedly true. However, the monopoly upon social destruction is not owned exclusively by science, as the Christian religion has had its fair share of committing mass atrocities over the last thousand years or so (the same observation and criticism can be equally levelled at numerous other religions). Perhaps it is better to state that humanity has a thread running through its genetic programming that has the capacity for immense violence, and that this capacity has been activated and operated in a vicious manner at various stages of its evolutionary development. This being the case, it is this propensity for violence that needs to be developed out of the human system as a means to secure a better future. This is where the various peace-orientated ideals contained within most religions and spiritual paths can be useful for the further evolution of humanity. This need not clash with the scientific paradigm, but exist peacefully alongside it. Although science may pursue a non-religious narrative, this does not necessarily mean that science is ‘anti-religious’. In reality, as religion cannot be ‘measured’ or ‘quantified’, it is of no interest to the scientific method, and exists outside of it. As science does not operate through the agency of ‘faith’, religionists should have no opinion about it, and yet the world is full of individuals that purport to support religion or science from a diametrically opposing position. This is not useful or helpful for the development of humanity, but this is not the complete story, as many religionists today study science, and many otherwise hard-nosed scientists profess a religious faith outside the laboratory. An appreciation of nature, and the sheer randomness of its creation and functionality maybe termed a non-threatening mystery that does not compromise the material essence of modern science. From the scientific perspective, religion can be explained scientifically (through the auspices of psychology and psychiatry, as well as secular philosophy), and need not necessarily be an issue that requires confronting, even if it does not obviously contribute toward the scientific method.

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