Nieuws - 12 maart 2009


In Resource 19 (on evolution and creationism) Herman van Eck says that the Chinese are brainwashed with atheism, to which Johan van Leeuwen retorts that religious believers are brainwashed too. In my view both atheist scientists and religious believers are brainwashed to some extent. Pristine perception and analysis of data is impossible. The best we can do is to explicate our underlying worldviews. I think that today three different scientific paradigms co-exist: the positivist, constructivist and transcendentalist paradigms (van Eijk 1998), with their respective keywords: matter, mind, and spirit. Their main methodologies are experimental testing, dialectical debate, and methods of consciousness development.
Rolf Hoekstra refers to the fact-value dualism, saying that science and religion need to be clearly distinguished. Scientific facts and (in this case, religiously inspired) values should indeed be distinguished, but when they are fully separated, a lack of wisdom might be the result.
At present the mainstream positivist paradigm, including evolution theory, is so dominant that Reitse de Roos is correct in saying that belief in the rational-empirical mind is today’s religion, and that all non-sensory reality is systematically denied. Van Leeuwen dismisses this: ‘you bring a force (or entity) into science that is beyond what you can observe yourself, which is pointless in answering scientific questions’. I think that one cannot take one’s own incapacity to experience more refined levels of reality (or consciousness) as proof of their non-existence. These levels of reality do not exist for us as long as we do not personally experience them, just as colours do not exist in the country of the blind.
Richard Dawkins (2003:149) speaks of the ‘sloppy thinking’ of agnostic intellectuals who consider belief and disbelief in a supreme being equally deserving of respectful attention. He borrows from Bertrand Russell: ‘We must be equally agnostic about the theory that there is a china teapot in elliptical orbit around the Sun. We can’t disprove it. But that doesn’t mean the theory that there is a teapot is on level terms with the theory that there isn’t’. Michiel Korthals says, correctly, that one can postulate an entity like the Creator or God to explain the origin of life, but this remains a stopgap that does not solve the problem.
In my view, perception, knowledge, and thus also worldview and reality, are structured in consciousness. Different realities are grounded in different levels of consciousness. At more refined levels of consciousness, more refined realities emerge. These levels of consciousness can be accessed through, for example, meditation techniques. According to Ken Wilber there is, in principle, no conflict between science and religion, but only a battle between genuine and bogus, between experiential science and religion versus dogmatic science and religion. If science studies the levels of matter and mind, and religion the level of spirit, then the battle between genuine and bogus appears on every level. There is a unity-in-diversity of the general knowledge quest: a unity in method, underlying diversity in domains. Just as mathematical knowledge can be confirmed or refuted by equally well-trained mathematicians, so does spiritual knowledge demand equally well-trained peers, i.e. people trained in effective meditation techniques.
Neither science nor religion can explain the origin of life. Science will never be able to prove the existence of a Creator, God, universal field of creative intelligence, or other such postulated entities, but the effects in daily life of regular access to these entities can, in principle, be measured with our current scientific instruments (for example, effects on physiological and psychological health, on social and ecological behaviour). Let religious believers, Teapot believers, Intelligent Designers, or anthroposophists prove that they produce positive (individual and collective) effects in the visible world. Let them prove experientially that their ecological and societal behaviour is statistically significantly better than the behaviour of other groups of (otherwise comparable) people.