Science and religion
There are many ways of looking at the relationship between science and religion (organized, exoteric) and/or spirituality (less formalized, esoteric).
One is to subsume one under the other, although this leads to the distortion of one or both. Another is to assign them to separate domains, although this assumes a split of the world.
A third is to assume that existence is a whole, and that science and spirituality are two equally valid and legitimate ways of exploring this whole.
Exploring the parallels in spirituality – as expressed through eastern traditions and by mystics of any tradition, and new science – such as quantum physics, is of course interesting and can even give us some new insights and avenues for exploration.
If we are clear that we are only exploring apparent parallels, and that the current views of science are transitory and will be replaced by something else, then there is little to loose in this approach. The connection is tenuous as best, and we allow each approach to stay themselves and (mostly) intact. The only danger here is the usual one: to get caught up in abstractions and take them for reality, mistake the map for the terrain.
But if we push a stronger connection, there is another danger – as Ken Wilber points out. We now try to hitch spirituality onto particular views from science, we attach the perennial wisdom from spirituality onto inherent transient and replaceable views from science. When the particular view of science goes down (such as current understanding of quantum physics), it could – for some – take with it perennial spirituality.
Apart from quantum physics, there is another area of science which is often mentioned in connection with spirituality: evolution.
Of course, there are the Spiral Dynamics blue who see evolution as opposed to religion. But there are also those at orange and beyond who see how the two are mutually enriching.
Maybe the currently best example of the cross fertilization of evolution and spirituality is the Great Story, or the Universe Story.
The Great Story…
- Is the history of the universe as told by mainstream science
- Is told as our creation story – shared by all humans, all species, the whole of the universe
- Sees the universe as one seamless process, beyond and including all polarities in the world of phenomena
- Sees the universe as a holarchy
- Sees the largest whole – beyond and including any and all polarities, including that of existence and nonexistence, as God, Allah, Buddha Mind, Brahman, Dao, Spirit
- See all living beings as the awareness organs of the universe
- Sees the universe as becoming aware of itself through all beings
- Recognizes evolution as becoming aware of itself through humans
- Sees our ancestors as the supernovas that created the matter we are made up of, and all previous generations of species
- Sees evolution of the universe, the Earth and humanity as the universe reorganizing itself in always new and more complex ways
- Sees human culture and technology as the universe organizing and exploring itself in new ways
- Is deeply transdual, seeing the largest whole as including and embracing all polarities – including existence and nonexistence, creator and creation, spirit and matter, body and mind, nature and culture and so on
- Helps to heal the apparent splits of polarities such as those above
Some of the effects of allowing this view to become alive in us – through studies, reflection and practices, is…
- Sense of awe
- Sense of the absolute mystery of anything existing at all, and the way it is all unfolding
- Sense of belonging to the universe, the earth and humanity
- Sense of connection with the larger whole, up to the largest whole of the universe and/or God
- Sense of meaning
- Sense of responsibility to allow this amazing experiment – of humanity and our culture, to continue beyond the foreseeable future
The Great Story, when it comes alive in us, invites us right into Big Mind – into that which is beyond and includes all polarities. And this is also God, Brahman, Allah, Dao, Buddha Mind, Spirit. It allows us to have a taste of ourselves as that largest whole, temporarily functioning through and as a human self.
As both The Great Story and the Big Mind process are relatively new approaches, it is not surprising that there is not an explicit connection between the two yet.
But I would be surprised if not people from either approach will take on the other and find ways to combine them in ways that offer an experiential deepening beyond what each offer alone.