Friday, July 9, 2010

Integrating Science and Religion

In terms of successful psychological development we can identify - for convenience - three key personality functions in need of integration.

These are 1) the cognitive function related to the pursuit of knowledge and order; 2) the affective function related to love and beauty and finally 2) the (primary) volitional function related to motivation and fulfilment.

Corresponding to these functions are the three great domains of science, art and religion respectively.

Therefore for successful integration in society, ultimately science, art and religion must be reconciled.

However a great limitation at present is the manner in which science and religion especially - as presently understood - seem in many ways to be mutually in conflict with each other.

As I have always been greatly interested in both domains, a key issue for me has related to attaining their mutual compatibility.

Basically I would see that such compatibility requires two major revolutions with respect to current understanding.

The first requirement relates to the recognition that present interpretation of the nature of science is greatly restricted.

Though in truth there are two key aspects to comprehensive scientific understanding, at present only one of these aspects is formerly accepted.

So conventional science - using linear logic - is based on a merely analytic understanding of phenomena geared to their quantitative interpretation. Present science therefore can only deal with qualitative issues through a continual process of reductionism!

However there is an equally important dimension to science (using circular logic) that is based on true holistic understanding of phenomena geared directly to their qualitative interpretation.

So before we can hope to successfully integrate science with religion, a major revolution is required with respect to the nature of potential scientific understanding leading to a much more comprehensive approach.

And of course this blog is designed precisely to address the nature of this hidden scientific dimension!

However - again for successful integration - an equally important transformation is required with respect to our interpretation of religion. Though it may cause convulsions among many committed followers of the various traditions, all of these offer but secondary expressions of a primary universal reality that is spiritual.

In other words the major traditions, in a commendable attempt to disseminate spiritual meaning to followers, inevitably employ a variety of culturally determined mythical symbols so as to suitably convey the desired message.

For example this is very true with respect to my own tradition of Roman Catholicism. Here there is strong emphasis on God as One (rather than both One and Many) on God as male (rather than female) on God sending His only Son into the World (which again is very restrictive when everything in creation comes from God) on Christ being born of a virgin (though normal birth cannot occur in this way) on Christ being conceived without sin (though it is existentially meaningless for human life to be without sin) and so on.

So what we have here are various attempts to convey universal spiritual truths in the form of important myths (where however the meaning becomes unduly restricted through overidentification with the particular phenomenal symbols used). This then leads misleadingly to "magical" interpretations represented as the core of religious beliefs.

So a considerable need remains to demythologise such symbols thus allowing a much better appreciation of the key spiritual truths which they contain.
So there is a universal spiritual reality of which all religions convey valid - but necessarily limited - phenomenal interpretations.

Until this point is clearly realised not alone will the various religious traditions find unnecessary sources of conflict between themselves, but equally it will remain extremely difficult to find any common language for discourse with science.

Properly understood the three domains of science art and religion should be pointing (through differing functions of understanding) to the same great secrets of life.

However once again before this reconciliation can be achieved - especially with respect to science and religion - we need to first "spiritualise" science (through proper recognition of its hidden qualitative dimension). We then equally need to demythologise the various great religious traditions recognising them all as but important secondary - and necessarily restricted - expressions of a primary universal spiritual reality. And this spiritual reality exists not just here on planet Earth but everywhere throughout the created Universe.

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