Why Good Science Matters

Yesterday, I wrote this:

It is time to stop taking the world apart and to acknowledge that what we seek is what we will find. It is that kind of universe.

I would like to clarify that. When I said “what we seek is what we will find” I did not mean that what the Christians, let’s say, in Iraq, are seeking under an invasion by the Islamic State. Broadly speaking, those people are seeking security, peace and even life itself. All are perilously close to collapse. That is serious, even heart-breaking, business, as all things are when one is dealing with top predators (homo sapiens). My heart goes out to people being preyed on by other humans, in the name of spiritual principles, or for any other reason (and there are many). What I was speaking about, however, was the dominant spiritual and cultural force in the human world today, the world of science. I was pointing out that the dominant Western scientific tradition was not a representation of “reality”, as it wishes to see itself, but, rather, of a cultural reality, and that is quite a different thing. Scientific philosophy is not a trivial thing, but if not acknowledged and challenged it can in extreme situations lead to such horrors as the chaos of contemporary Iraq. To be fair, as far as cultural realities go, contemporary North American cultural ethics are not bad ones. We can, however, make them better, and it is the duty of every citizen of any state that wishes to call itself civilized to work towards the ethical goal of improving the operation of its state, because states and their belief systems determine to a large extent the lives of their citizens. This is serious stuff. The states that govern (a term loosely applied at times) my part of the earth (the intermontane grasslands of the North American West), namely the United States and Canada, can and must do a better job. The alternative is the chaos of Iraq, the Ukraine, the Gaza Strip, Liberia, and… really, the examples abound (for which these states do carry some blame). This is just one of the many reasons I argue for a re-imagining of science and a re-ignition of the relationship between humans and the earth. In social terms, worse will follow if we don’t get it right. In ecological terms, the situation is even more clear. To that end, let me restate my comment from yesterday:

The universe appears to be arranged on a principle of energy, that enables any conception that is brought to it. If one wishes to see an empirical world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on empirical models. If one wishes to see a spiritual world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on spiritual models. These are just examples. The principle is infinite. Because of this energy flow, all attempts at codifying reality should be viewed with caution, and that includes, even, scientific principles “proven” by mathematical and experimental procedures. They are true, but they are only one of many truths, and the real truth is beyond them.

That is, more or less, what I meant to say. For the sake of my companions on this earth …

deerdr … and its waters …


… I just wanted to make that clear. (Photos by Diane Rhenisch)

2 thoughts on “Why Good Science Matters

  1. I do like those photos. The deer looks as if expects its friend to offer a carrot, or at least an apple from the orchard. As for the two worlds — empirical and spiritual — my feeling is that we need both for different, yet related, reasons. Being practical does not remove the need for vision.


    • Thanks. I should have pointed out that they are the same. (but different). The deer wanted almost anything. It had very little habitat to get by on.


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