In preparation for my trip to India in about six weeks, I’m currently reading the Dalai Lama’s book – The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.
I had the good fortune to meet His Holiness about two years ago in Delhi. We shook hands, and he looked into my eyes with that mirthful gleam of his, and I was suddenly incapable of speech. I walked away feeling like I had plugged into an energy stream that was boundless.
I want to quote now from this book – because I think the point His Holiness makes here is very relevant –
There are many people, both scientists and non scientists, who appear to believe that all aspects of reality must and will fall within the scope of science. The assumption is sometimes made that, as society progresses, science will continually reveal the falsehoods of our beliefs – particularly religious beliefs – so that an enlightened secular society can eventually emerge.
In this view, science is perceived as having disproved many of the claims of religion, such as the existence of God, grace, and the eternal soul. And within this conceptual framework anything that is not proven or affirmed by science is somehow either false or insignificant.
Such views are effectively philosophical assumptions that reflect their holders’ metaphysical prejudices.
Science deals with that aspect of reality and human experience that lends itself to a particular method of enquiry susceptible to empirical observation, quantification and measurement, repeatability, and intersubjective verification – more than one person has to be able to say: “Yes, I saw the same thing. I got the same results.”
So legitimate scientific study is limited to the physical world, including the human body, astrological bodies, measurable energy and how structures work. This is effectively the current paradigm of what constitutes science.
Clearly this paradigm does not and cannot exhaust all aspects of reality, in particular the nature of human existence.
In addition to the objective world of matter, which science is masterful at exploring, there exists the subjective world of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and the values and spiritual aspirations based on them.
If we treat this realm as though it had no constitutive role in our understanding of reality, we lose the richness of our own existence, and our understanding cannot be comprehensive.
Reality, including our own existence, is so much more complex than objective scientific materialism allows.