Carl Sagan: Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality

 

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light?years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

– Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

There are many interesting connections between science and spirituality. And it all obviously depends on what we mean by spirituality.

Science inspiring spirituality

Science often inspires spirituality – as we see in deep ecology, the Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, ecopsychology, and different forms of ecospirituality whether outside or inside of existing religions.

The story of the universe, as told by modern science, is our story. It’s the story of how existence formed itself into this evolving universe, this evolving and living Earth, and us. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. And this can be a profoundly meaningful and inspiring story.

It’s not the story of a universe “out there”. It’s the story of our own past and evolution, and how existence as a whole formed itself into who we are as individuals and collectively, our culture and civilization, and our experiences here and now.

In a similar way, science shows us this planet as a seamless living system, how all of us – all beings – share ancestors, and how closely our fates are profoundly intertwined.

Methods of science

The methods of science is common sense set into system.

It’s a set of pointers for how to test out things and make sense of how things work. And it’s a set of pointers for how to think about it in an honest and clear way.

We have an idea of how something works. We try it out and see what happens. We compare notes with others. WE may engage in a more open exploration and see what we find. We get new ideas and pointers and try those out. We record and share our findings. And so on.

We know we cannot know anything for certain. We know that the content of science and what we think we know always change. We know that also goes for our worldviews and most basic assumptions about the world and ourselves. We know that our thoughts, models, and maps are questions about the world.

And that’s something we can apply to whatever we do, including spirituality.

What we are

Science and spirituality are, in essence, about exploring reality.

When we explore what we are to ourselves, we find we are capacity for the world. The world as it appears to us happens within and as what we are.

So whether we take a science approach or a spiritual approach, or use logic or direct perception, we find the same.

Although it does require taking logic to its full conclusion, and following our direct noticing here and now, and setting aside what we have been told we are from society and culture.

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