Posted by: Jim | December 12, 2006

Spirituality and Science

Yesterday’s quote of the day has me rehashing my stance on science and spirituality. Having eschewed religion per se, I’ve maintained the theory that I am still a spiritual person. I think this was mostly due to my dogged pursuit of women, who want to feel secure that you are still spiritual. Because after all, the prevailing theory is that someone who is not even spiritual must have no morals, and would not flinch while tossing his baby over the railing of a cruise liner.

Recognizing this fallacy, and wanting no part of it, I have since eschewed spirituality as well. When people claim to sense things about the future, for example, my initial reaction is to write it off as delusion. Then when those things actually happen, I write it off as coincidence while others chalk it up to God, or providence, or whatever.

But when trying to know the unknown, people need to affix some causal connection to apparently supernatural events when our brains can find none. When we do that, the connection we create is inevitably wrong, but it creates a place for science to start.

Case in point: there was a day when people did not understand volcanoes. All they knew was that suddenly a mountain would explode, smoke and lava could come belching out, leaving a wake of death and destruction. What caused this? For thousands of years, Pele did. But the invention of Pele did not end our curiosity about volcanoes. Eventually we figured out the science of volcanoes, and the idea of Pele moved from spirituality into mythology.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the human intellect does too. So we fill the vacuum of the unknown with spirituality, only for science to come along later and consume, leaving facts in its vicious wake.

But, I am left palms-up when trying to explain mysterious things that have happened to me. Here’s an example:

Once, I had a dear friend tell me about a séance she had just experienced where, with the help of a medium, she and her family contacted her dead sister. She explained that they used a method similar to a Ouija board for the dead sister to spell out messages. The messages were clear some times, and pure gibberish at others. When asked about the gibberish, the dead sister explained that it was the language they speak “there,” and that using English was very difficult. For some reason, I asked my friend to show me the gibberish. She did, and I saw long strings of consonants with no vowels.

Then I remembered that ancient Hebrew had no vowels in its written language. Within my own arm’s reach, I found a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, which has every Hebrew word used in the Old Testament, transliterated into English, and in a matter of minutes, I had reversed the consonants into Hebrew letters, tried to find spaces where one word started and the next began, and, I found a series of Hebrew words for every single phrase of gibberish. Some of the words seemed highly metaphorical, and some of the phrases could be interpreted to mean a lot of different things. But in a way, I felt as if I had interpreted the language spoken in heaven, which was apparently Hebrew.

Not your everyday ordinary experience.

But still I wonder. If someone were to produce *purposeful* gibberish, would I be able to do the same thing? Maybe Hebrew is flexible that way. But what of the actual phrases communicated via this Ouija-like gizmo? A parlor trick? Perhaps. Those messages seemed to be very soothing to members of a family who had just lost a loved one.

Maybe, and who knows. But it makes one wonder. And that wonder, which may be called spirituality, will lead to scientific exploration that may one day unravel the mystery. Maybe science will one day figure out what happens to us after we die, and the myth of spirituality will be replaced with facts. Until then, we have to, at times, settle on having a big question mark over our heads.

I, for one, will not invent answers to these questions. Nor will I accept other people’s inventions. I will patiently wait for facts to answer them, and I will no doubt die before many of them happen.

Maybe it is spiritual to simply accept that there are things you don’t understand, and to accept the questions without trying to affix an answer to it. If so, then I am spiritual.

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Responses

  1. Would it be accurate to describe every known language as ‘purposeful gibberish’ for the mere fact that its purpose is to communicate? I think it may be a bit closed-minded to assume that anything we don’t understand or cannot readily translate has no purpose. Robert Tilton, silly televangelist, claims to break into tongues, but hbell, I don’t know. Maybe he is. I don’t like how it happens though – to gain money for his church.

    To be frank, Hebrew is gibberish to me, however, if you’ve studied the Bible Code at all, you’d be surprised at not only how it allows the Hebrew people to communicate, but also allows hidden messages in the Torah to be revealed. I read the book a few years ago, and have seen the TV specials on TLC. I’m not sure what to think, it’s so far out there. I cannot disprove it though, and I’d like it to be true. If proven true, wouldn’t it give a hint of evidence that there is a divine influence in this life?

    The truth is, Jim, that if you wait for facts, who is to say that you would accept them? Some folks still don’t believe we landed on the moon. Some actually believe the earth to still be flat. Some believe they understand women. Well, the latter is completely true, because we never will…

    Your last line defines exactly the term faith in my world. Welcome to spirituality 🙂

  2. Well then we agree on some points.

    As far as facts; they have never let me down and I have a long history of accepting them. The flat-earth people are extreme fringe nutjobs, and I am not among them.

    Invented answers, however, have a long history of letting me down. The Bible Code? Even if it’s true, what use can we possibly get from it? After things happen, we can find key words about it hidden in the Bible like a word-search puzzle. OK … thanks God.

  3. The Bible Code predeicted the assassination of the Isaeli prime minister a year ahead of the incident. Even down to the name of the assassin.

    This prediction came from using the code. Yitzhak Rabin chose not to believe it. He was killed.

    Let the conspiracy theories abound, but I think that makes The Bible Code, if valid, quite useful in preventing prematuire death, and thusly, lends credibility to something greater out there.

    For those of you who do not know of this code, it has also predicted things like the moon landing, Kennedy’s assassination and Saddam Hussein.

  4. It also predicted that I’d be getting laid tonight. But, as luck would have it, she just called and canceled. I suspect she may have bought a copy of ‘The Bible Code’ and chose to tamper with the space/time continuum, rather than let herself be manipulated by a bunch of dead male scribes and one very much alive lonely white guy. Damn feminists.

    * * *

  5. If Rabin had believed the prophecy and saved his own life, then the Bible Code would have been wrong. What then?

    But I find it preposterous on so many levels. Why would God, who allegedly gave us this Bible to begin with, place a secret code in there? To impress us? Well then why isn’t the Bible itself very impressive, and FILLED with inaccuracies?

    What about all the random words and phrases that appear in the Bible Code that do not find congruence with some historical event? If I find the words “Elephant” and “eats” and “Manhattan” and “July, 1898,” I would toss that out because an elephant did not eat manhattan in July of 1898. The Bible Code people don’t actually bring those up.

    Also, if I had the energy, I might find it interesting to place the first few paragraphs of “Bleak House” onto a grid and see what it prophesies. If I don’t find anything–no problem–change the size and shape of the grid. If I were to find a prophesy of something that happened, does that mean that Dickens wrote the inspired word of God?

    If God were trying to impress us, or give us a sign, he could have just flat out done it. It wouldn’t be so obscure. And if he’s trying to get me to “believe” that it’s true, well then I fail the test, because it does not provide any clear evidence of anything.

  6. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still in the process of filtering out the crap. There are claims that certain prophecies have been proven wrong. This all feeds into my personal belief as a fatalist. You cannot change the future. Everything is preordained. Rabin did not believe it because he was not meant to.

    It’s funny, the reviews on this book on Amazon were less about reviewing the book, but more along the lines of a philisophical pissing match.

    Bri, you were not meant to get laid on this particular night. Perhaps you are applying the code incorrectly? 😉

  7. …premature posting of commentary…

    Jim, I’m with you on this. I am intrigued, but am not a firm believer yet. If we were meant to understand everything without a complicated and generation-spanning process of discovery, how uninteresting would life be? Why is it that it took Gutenberg so damn long to invent the printing press, or for Newton to discover calculus?

    If we didn’t have to discover all of this on our own, would we not then be like God, all-knowing and consequently, quite bored?

    Preordination, baby.

  8. The Universe is random chaos, folks. No Big White Bearded Guy on a golden chair in the sky, watching over it all. No Big Plan, no predestination or preordination — more like primordial premature ejaculation. Sorry to piss in your Sunny Delite, but ALL mysticism is simply a lack of understanding about phenomena generated by random chaos and entropy. We prove this again and again, but, the Universe being as huge and complex as it is, there is always more to prove. People always want to pit science against religion as if they are divergent but equal paths, but that’s like pitting an ocean liner against a floating log. Or an encyclopaedia against Tarot cards. The stubborn endurance of religion is the stubborn resistance to empirical evidence; it’s the wishful thinking of childhood versus the reasoned understanding of adulthood that, astonishingly, many never seem to reach. If I cannot disprove the existence of ‘God’, it is for the same reason that I cannot disprove the existence of a giant invisible turtle that holds up the world. The burden of proof is on those who came up with the turtle mythos, and just because they did it long before you were born and successfully indoctrinated you with it before you learned to think, doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

    However:

    If you seriously study the ancient mythologies on which ALL world religions, past and present, are based — and I mean seriously study, not buy wholesale into someone else’s rhetoric from a bully pulpit — then you will find some interesting allegorical commonalities. And if you continue to study them, as I have but MOST religious people have not, then you will begin to ask the right questions, and find the right answers. Perhaps you will even have an epiphany that eludes most Christians and Jews and Muslims in their hapless attachment to tired dogma — that, if there is any ‘God’ to speak of, it is us and everything around us. The entire Universe; all that exists, in a perpetual state of evolving in complexity and devolving into the entropic soup that spawns the random chaos of creativity. The grand ancient mythos described this as best as it could, given the difficulty of describing one’s own conception and birth, using allegories that could be understood by primitive and illiterate humans. The irony is that those early illiterates likely understood the allegorical meanings far better than we do today, with our idiotic literalism and astonishingly simplistic focus — despite a world of knowledge and reason that is readily available to us.

    If you discard the absurd literalist stories that make up much of the irrational dogma that passes for ‘belief’ these days, and concentrate on the deeper meanings, you may find the ‘salvation’ so many religious types seek — which is, and was always, salvation from their own ignorance.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. But first you have to be willing to hear it, and not just the crap you were raised to believe.

    * * *

  9. I told my daughter last night that she’s missing out if she only reads the blog postings–the meat is always is the comments.

    Nice!

  10. I liked the last part, Bri. What a load-off that must’ve been. lol.


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