• Valentina Poletti

Science vs Religion

When it comes to anti-religion scientist-debaters, there is no doubt that the distinction between science and religion is cut and clear, and that only through the scientific method we will ultimately find the truths that will serve us to evolve as a species in a better world. According to these scientific studies, however, this claim could not be further from the truth, and indeed it explains a lot of the unexplained interest in religion that such scientists find mysterious https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BihT0XrPVP8. To summarize these findings, it seems that there are two distinct types of activities in the brain, that activate differing parts. One kind of activity is analytically and logically oriented, and it involves all such tasks that use rational reasoning, and that are the foundation of scientific method. The other kind of activity deals with relationships and empathic connections with people, and it involves social narratives and emotions. Those two areas apparently cannot be both activated at the same time, and therefore one excludes the other. I would like to take this one step further however, and claim that in fact the two are both vital and essential for the evolution of our species, and play fundamental roles in our lives. The importance of the logical-reasoning side is well stressed enough by the scientific anti-religion debaters, that I don't find it necessary to dwell on it here. If anyone should be interested in this point of view, I suggest viewing one of Richard Dawkin's interviews, or Sam Harris', or Christopher Hitchens. You will notice that their arguments against religions are fundamentally based on the fact that religious people tend to believe nonsensical and unscientific things (e.g. creationism and intelligent design), and that religions create social divisions that are dangerous for society. When questioned regarding the positive effects that religions seem to have on society, they make the point that one could obtain the same positive effects by practicing spirituality without the attached religious nonsense. What they fail to acknowledge, in my point of view, is that the strong barriers between science and religion make this solution impractical. Let me elaborate. Suppose a person does want to approach spirituality from a scientific point of view. What sources can this person use? What text books are available on the subjects? What intellectuals have actually walked this path previously, that can guide this person? At the present moment, almost none. Due to the strong stereotypes that scientific people hold against religious people and vice-versa, most people fall into one side or the other, and there is little bridge in between. Sam Harris is possibly one of the few intellectuals (he is a neuroscientist in training) who has actually practiced meditation and thus understands what it is all about. Psychology, a field that is supposed to precisely mend this gap, is still at a level so elementary - both scientifically and spiritually - that it is hardly an option at all. Even for those people who chose to follow this system, financial means are a huge barriers due to the frightening costs of such sessions, and results are often slow and subtle. On the other hand both science and spirituality have walked giant steps. Science has provided us with amazing technology and understandings of nature, and shamans and monks have apparently found the secret for true amazing happiness and healing, as is seen for example in this experiment: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2225634/Is-worlds-happiest-man-Brain-scans-reveal-French-monk-abnormally-large-capacity-joy-meditation.html. Psychology is barely catching up as it is finally starting to appreciate the benefits of meditation, a practice that Buddhists have been using for millenia (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today). Spiritual world leaders such as Eckhart Tolle and Teal Swan are revealing methods to healing any kind of trauma completely and without the aid of medication - a result that current psychology still deems impossible, as a 'sick' patient is seen as such for life. We can see therefore that there is an enormous gap. One the one hand we need solutions for dealing with social issues and emotions, on the other we want to make the most intelligent use of our environment and resources. These two kinds of problems require two kinds of thinking, the kinds that are specified in Jack's research. Maybe the two realms will forever exclude each other, but I have a different theory. I believe we will truly make the best use of both our rational and emotional intelligence, once we start a collaborative conversation among the two fields, instead of a win-lose debate, and we integrate the knowledge of both for the best use of humanity.

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