Humans are inquisitive by nature. We are always asking “Why?”. We tirelessly pursue answers as we attempt to make sense of this world. We look in every direction, under every rock, and behind every door. Every physical thing in this world, everything outside of ‘ourselves’, can be measured and shown to another person. This measurable or empirical data can be gathered and stored and resourced by the next brilliant mind that seeks to understand the cosmos. We all want to unravel the mysteries of the observable world. But what about the unquantifiable? The immeasurable? The internal observations within which we have only ourselves to call witness? Why can’t we apply science to the self?
The scientific method has evolved over time so that all measurable evidence has a tried and true methodology through which we can ascertain answers. Today we know how to get our answers. We know how to dig a little deeper. Eventually we come to understand this physical reality outside of ourselves, a little more than before. The scientific method is comprised of 5 main steps. 1: Observation/Research, 2:Hypothesis, 3:Prediction, 4:Experimentation, and 5:Conclusion. These steps, when followed with strict adherence to careful and accurate observation and calculation, can yield fruitful bounty. We can come to amazing conclusions that stretch the imagination. Often we get to ‘see’ far beyond what our senses allow. We envision wormholes and the distortion of spacetime by a massive ball of matter we call earth- we even extrapolate the existence of fantastic and infinite dimensions. Science is a rich and abundant resource for the intellect and for the imagination, but what about the soul?
The reason scientific endeavors must have empirical evidence to back ones conclusions is simple- so the experiment can be repeated and the conclusions verified. This process allows us to move forward, step by step, as we add to the foundation of knowledge that stretches back through history. Science is a process and it can be applied to anything, even the spirit. As individual observers there is no reason why we cannot repeat the spiritual experiments of another, and verify or denounce the conclusion. The scientific process is the hallmark of our modern paradigm and it binds us together in our perception of reality.
I challenge each and every one of you reading this to embark on a spiritual experiment. The reason is simple, the evidence that is needed to verify spiritually based claims is experienced firsthand- not told or explained. The data is empirical in nature and measurable, but must be gathered alone. Serious researchers who apply scientific methodology to spiritual matters come to strikingly similar conclusions. My conclusions fueled an epiphany that quickly transformed my perception.
When the scientific method is applied to the inner workings of the self it begins a spiritual journey that is as worthwhile as any traditional science experiment has ever been, or can be. Why not begin a journey toward a deeper understanding of ourselves as well as the cosmos? What’s the worst that could happen? All it takes is a leap of faith to override the skepticism that has kept you from trying.
The most powerful and transformative experiment I can suggest is a simple one.
Humbly give thanks. You are at the receiving end of an endless stream of gifts that are cascading down from the incomprehensible heavens. Humbly accept and give thanks for all you receive. Try and do this every second of every day and for all things. Hold on to the gratitude you feel and share it whenever possible. Do for others and accept when others do for you.
Do this until it is not necessary to ‘try’ anymore. Do this until your patterns of thought are transformed. Do this until it flows freely from your heart like a wellspring that cannot be plugged. Do this and experience firsthand the evidence that billions upon billions are testifying.
After all, it goes against the integrity of science itself to denounce a conclusion that has not been tested. Let’s stop attacking what we don’t understand and conduct some experiments. Shall we??
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Impassioned, erudite, thoroughly researched, and beautifully reasoned, The Great Partnership argues not only that science and religion are compatible, but that they complement each other—and that the world needs both. “Atheism deserves better than the new atheists,” states Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “whose methodology consists of criticizing religion without understanding it, quoting texts without contexts, taking exceptions as the rule, confusing folk belief with reflective theology, abusing, ridiculing, and demonizing religious faith and holding it responsible for the great crimes against humanity. Religion has done harm; I acknowledge that. But the cure for bad religion is good religion, not no religion, just as the cure for bad science is good science, not the abandonment of science.” Rabbi Sacks’s counterargument is that religion and science are the two essential perspectives that allow us to see the universe in its three-dimensional depth. Science teaches us where we come from. Religion explains to us why we are here. Science is the search for explanation. Religion is the search for meaning. There have been times when religion tried to dominate science. And there have been times, including our own, when it is believed that we can learn all we need to know about meaning and relationships through biochemistry, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. In this fascinating look at the interdependence of religion and science, Rabbi Sacks explains why both views are tragically wrong.