Science and the Soul

Science and the SoulThe most brilliant scientists and engineers build a car. It’s beautiful, a piece of art, painted brightly, accented with chrome. An electric motor, the latest in computerized skid control, ABS brakes, regenerative braking, proximity and blind-spot alerts, self-parking and self-driving, integrated GPS controls – and there it sits, shining in the sun, a pinnacle of modern technology. The scientists and engineers roll it out of the factory to great applause. The applause dies away, there’s an awkward pause.

The engineers and scientists consult with one another, embarrassed. Why doesn’t it work? What’s wrong? One engineer, walks behind it and hits it with a stick. “Move!” he orders, but nothing happens.

Several men get behind and push. The car rolls a bit, the men let go, and the car simply rolls to a stop. All the dignitaries assembled to see the launch of the new car look at their watches, begin to fidget and then walk away, embarrassed for the designers and manufacturer. The car is an obvious failure.

A young girl, left standing beside the car, walks to it, opens the door, gets in. Touches the GPS screen and the car begins to move away, negotiates the other cars, exits a gate, and accelerates onto the highway, taking the girl home.

While science has made great strides in technology and the handling of physical and material things – with chemistry, physics, biology and other hard sciences – it fails to account for something beyond the scope of science. Something science cannot see or measure and the existence of which it therefore denies.

Science neglects the spiritual nature of man, it neglects the driver in the previous somewhat silly analogy – it neglects the operator, the purpose, the destination of the human being.

And while hard science has created wonderful technology and has lifted human beings out of the swamps of disease and powerlessness, the “sciences” that purport to deal with human beings – sociology, psychology, psychiatry, criminology, etc., have not progressed much beyond Medieval technology, if one looks at the lack of results. War, crime, poverty, insanity are still with us, unabated in the midst of an economic and scientific renaissance.

In ancient times, the Earth was the center of the universe. Scientists could prove it quite accurately, down to the apparent retrograde motion of planets, and the geocentric model held sway for some 1,500 years. It was real, agreed upon by both church and state.

Then some crazy people proposed a heliocentric or “sun-centered” model and all hell broke loose. Galileo espoused the heliocentric system of Copernicus. The Church labeled it “heretical” books were banned, Galileo was told to shut up or else, science and religion were in agreement on this. But this new way of looking at things gradually replaced the old.

In the rear-view mirror we can see, clearly, that the geocentric model was wrong, even though the church and leading scientists said it was right. They had charts, calendars, prediction of astronomical events etc. to prove their case but they were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Likewise, objects were once thought to be solid. Then some scientists thought that substances might be composed of atoms and voids. That solid table-top is not actually solid, they said, but is composed of tiny particles with huge voids between them. And so what at first seemed like a silly idea replaced a wrong idea and we all now agree that objects are mostly empty space with tiny particles sprinkled through them. So now, the Earth and other planets orbit the sun, and objects are composed of space.

But what if here in 2020, some of our most cherished scientific assumptions are just as wrong? Hell hath no fury like a theory scorned, and even though science is supposedly objective and far above the silly superstitions of the unwashed, any new scientific discovery that challenges the old models is attacked in an hysterical fury by white-headed PhDs wearing robes and swinging heavy diplomas.

So what if man were not – as science supposes – just flesh, brain and neurons? What if we were essentially spiritual, immortal entities part of eternity, part of the Creator?

The more human beings act like material objects, the better the results in scientific studies. He commits a crime, you lock him up to keep him from other people, in something called “corrections” but it’s really just “quarantine punishment.” If he’s crazy or depressed or having second thoughts, he has a chemical imbalance – a shortage of pharmaceuticals – and needs some drugs. You can reward him for obeying and punish him for disobeying and he becomes a robot like a Nazi who was “just following orders.”

When human beings’ spiritual nature appears, however, the scientific method breaks down. People, surprisingly, don’t like being manipulated and start a revolution. Confronted with injustice, they are not content to sit quietly but burst out into action. Punished for disobedience, they erupt, rewarded for obedience, they refuse their honors. Pushed too far, they light themselves afire to make a statement. They insist on causing things, creating things, coming up with new ideas that disrupt the smooth choreography of “this is the way things are.”

So what if mental illness was not a shortage of some pharmaceuticals, but a decline and degradation of the spirit? What if crime and poverty and war continue because the soft sciences pin their hopes on genetics or conditioning, reducing the concept of mind, body and spirit to only body? An idea of mind as holes in molecules where memories are stuffed, or like Skynet in the movie Terminator – a sort of neuron network that has somehow achieved sentience? Scientific concepts as the modern equivalent of phlogiston, phrenology and casting out demons, without a sentience, without a spirit guiding and controlling the jumbled assemblages of material substances and energies.

Science imposes a single-minded material perspective upon a hybrid entity – essentially a spiritual being that creates and maintains a mind – using a physical body to operate in a physical universe. In short science looks at a driverless automobile as complete, thinks the telephone system is the consciousness of humanity, and would have video games without players, running on automatic, as the model of life.

Science – constrained by a limited physical concept of existence – would explain creativity as craziness, love as sex, mental illness as chemistry, psychosis as an electrical disturbance of the brain to be treated by an electric-shock “reboot.”

Will science ever recognize religion and the spirit as legitimate? Some have suggested that quantum physics may eventually give science a path to the spirit, that one day it will embrace the spirit, the soul, in a comprehensive three-dimensional concept of humankind.

As Carl Sagan once said: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”