Carl Sagan: Science is a way of thinking

Science is more than a body of knowledge. It’s a way of thinking.

– Carl Sagan in interview with Charlie Rose, 1996

The body of knowledge from science changes. It doesn’t stay the same. As we have more information, discover new things, and for cultural and other reasons, the specifics of what we think we know change, as do our underlying assumptions and worldviews.

Science as a way of thinking is our approach to explore and learn about the world. It’s essentially common sense systematized. It’s more universal and timeless, although it too changes a bit over time as it’s is adjusted and refined, and varies a bit across cultures.

The scientific approach is a way of figuring things out about our world. We experience something. We explore something. We have some ideas about what’s going on. We find ways to test those ideas. We compare notes with others and share ideas and experiences. And so on.

Applying a scientific approach to spirituality

That’s useful in any area of life, whether it’s studying, working, relationships, sports, or anything else.

It also means that if we are serious about spirituality, we’ll tend to use a scientific approach whether we use that label or not.

What happens when I do this practice? When I explore that pointer?

What do I find? What do others report when they explore it?

What’s the most honest and grounded way of interpreting what I find? What can I know something about? What’s outside of what I can honestly speak about?

Can I know it for certain? Can I know anything for certain? How is it to approach it with a more open mind?

This is a way of being honest with ourselves and staying grounded. Where fantasy doesn’t get us much beyond fantasy, a pragmatic approach gives us some traction.

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