Religion and Spirituality
In this week’s spotlight I would like to take a moment to reflect on the nature of truth. We hear a lot today about the idea that truth is personal—statements like, “I have my own truth.” This is an interesting idea that essentially can be used to argue for cultural relativity, something I have railed against many times on my radio show. Still—we all do have our so-called personal truths. For example, I have personally spent years studying, researching, and otherwise investigating the entire nature of religion and spirituality. That said, there is no solid scientific evidence that proves religion or spirituality is anything more than a brain produced phenomena. Indeed, science clearly shows us that the brain is wired for religious experience, and it is very hard to argue against the evolutionary psychologists who insist that the plethora of religious experience exists as a matter of evolutionary expediency designed to deal with the inevitability of death. In other words, isn’t it comforting to believe that there is more to our lives than just death.
Now comes the personal truth aspect. Where intellectually I can see the value to religion and spirituality in many instances, at least from a purely pragmatic stand point, I can only use subjective experiences to support my conclusion that there is much more to life than the old notion that you only go around once.
I think most of us have had experiences that denied explanation via our standard models of science. I have had many! Indeed, I have written about this in my book, “What Does That Mean,” and I did so, not so much to share my own experiences, but to draw out yours, and highlight their importance. Most of us have had many experiences that cannot easily be cataloged in some rote explanation, but for some reason we tend to forget them—if we ever really noticed their importance to begin with.
It is the anomalies then that persist as the best evidence for an after life. It was William James who pointed out that it only takes one white crow to prove that all crows are not black. Indeed for James, his pragmatic “theory of truth was a synthesis of correspondence theory of truth and coherence theory of truth, with an added dimension. Truth is verifiable to the extent that thoughts and statements correspond with actual things, as well as the extent to which they ‘hang together,’ or cohere, as pieces of a puzzle might fit together; these are in turn verified by the observed results of the application of an idea to actual practice.”
This week I enjoyed a conversation with my friend Richard. We discussed this idea at length. Bottom line, when you’re all said and done with the science of it all, you are still left with a couple of anomalies. If consciousness is only an emergent property of brain, then how do you explain mind operating at a distance? Further, although disputed among physicists, the whole matter of consciousness participating in the uncertainty principle is still not really sorted out. Added to this are the abundance of subjective reports, many of which have been independently verified—and remember that verifiability is the crucible of science. It is this abundance of subjective reports that gives rise to the anomalies that leave us with too many white crows to accept the view of scientism.
For me spirituality is a bit like the meaning behind Israelite—one who wrestles with God. Life is our opportunity to learn more about who we are and how we relate to it all. Spirituality then is a practice of enquiry—continual enquiry. Certain truths then do seem to have a personal side to them. My thoughts anyway.
As always, thanks for the read and I appreciate your feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions