Letter writer: Science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was glad to read about the Lake Junaluska peace conference [“Hot Seat: Multifaith Peace Conference Explores Connection Between Conflict and Climate Change,” Nov. 2, Xpress]. The fact that an interfaith dialogue is occurring regarding the subject of climate change is certainly heartening.

I have become increasingly concerned, however, about the one-sided approach to the ecological crisis evident in much media coverage. That the fundamental environmental problem we face is too much carbon in the air has become something “everybody knows,” at least for those who care. One effect of this is to force spirituality into a secondary role in which it serves merely to support an agenda set by materialism.

The irony is that a reductive materialist worldview is arguably what has caused humanity to view the Earth as our own personal grab bag and dumping ground in the first place. If we wish not only to decrease our carbon emissions but to cease any number of destructive actions, then we need to bring our consciousness into a healthy state. This is a spiritual matter.

Contrary to established scientific theory and popular opinion, science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. In fact, conventional science unconsciously accepts and relies upon the reality of the spirit at every step. The creation of a rigorous spiritual science only requires the development of appropriate methods.

This is not some abstract fantasy, although there is unfortunately much nominal “spiritual science.” The Nature Institute in upstate New York, while not practicing full-blown spiritual science, has made great strides toward it.

Homeopathy teaches us that a one-sided focus on removing symptoms only pushes the pathology deeper. If we human beings continue in the future to believe that we live in a merely physical world, a world of things rather than of meanings, then it likely won’t matter how much carbon we put back in the ground.

— Andy Shaw


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27 thoughts on “Letter writer: Science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive

  1. boatrocker

    From your letter I’d assume you have good intentions, but just the same you’ll get no sympathy from this devout agnostic.

    All those ‘spiritual’ matters (a code word for for religion, as in “I’m not religious, but I’m sooooo spiritual”) are fine on your own time.
    It is of course your perview to wake up before dawn, do some sun salutations, mediation, yoga, etc., but trying to inject it into any and every discussion is silly.

    Yes, climate science relies on pure science and data, for one reason: Clean air, water, soil, temperature fluctuations etc. are not influenced in any way by ones’ ‘intentions’.

    PS behind every new age woo woo practitioner lurks an unapologetic capitalist, as in “I’m offering a paid workshop”.

    Merely read through the ads in any given issue of Mtn X.
    I don’t lose sleep for wondering what my ‘past lives’ were, and I don’t close my eyes, breathe deeply and ‘make the world go away’ (it’s an old country song and I doubt they play it on an ipod during a $60 massage).

    I do realize until proven conclusively, this is it. This one life. Make the best of it and do good things in your short time here, as in
    you’re a short time here, and a long time gone.

    • Michael Mason

      I believe you mean purview, not perview.

      From your letter I assume you have great faith in contemporary science, one that relies on observation and measurement of phenomena of material events and then proceeds to build models and theories based on those measurements based on rigorous logic. Wunderbar!

      But what is a theory? An idea. Is an idea a material event? No. If it were, then we could observe it as we do any other material event, either directly with our five senses or perhaps some physical instrument that enhances the range of our senses. But we cannot. We sense/perceive our ideas only through our “mind’s eye” (please, it’s a metaphor!).

      But how about the objects of the physical world — surely those exist “out there” independently of our thoughts about them? Well, no. Perceptual psychology convincingly shows that everything we see on the material plane requires a concept. Straight line, curve line, before, after, distant, near, there, here, one hue different from another, any shape we perceive, mass, force, and so on are all concepts. It takes the newborn infant years to master his/her senses and learn to bring the appropriate concept to the particular perceptual field. (Somewhat late in that development is concept pair: cause – effect. Cause – effect is purely a conceptual relationship. If you cannot form it, then nothing in the material plane will, by itself, reveal it to you.) If you lack the concept, then you remain unaware of the phenomenon. The prepositions of a language (for, to, etc.), conjunctions (and, as, or, etc.), conjunctive adverbs (however, furthermore, thus, still, conversely, etc.) are all concepts that we use to order our perceptual experiences, and yet none of them is a material item. Logic? When is an assertion logical? Nothing of the material plane reveals to us what logic is, only thinking does that. And neither is thinking a material event.

      What I have been describing are all spiritual (non-material phenomena) fully invisible to the tools of science. Without the spiritual, we would see nothing, observe nothing of the physical world. The physical world would not exist for us (existence – another concept the mind uses to order the world).

      I could go on to the phenomena of feeling and willing. But, to keep this brief, let me inform you that some particular feeling is not a chemical/hormonal reaction in the body. Certainly chemical reactions transpire in the brain/body that accompany our consciousness of jealousy, fondness, joy, anger, but when the scientist observes the brain at whichever microscopic level you prefer, he sees chemicals, not feelings. Yes, scientists can manipulate the chemical composition of the brain, and various feelings/images can arise. But, just as a pianist pushes the keys of a piano to reveal the music, what the scientist does is drop bricks on the keyboard and calls that music. (Either way, a noise is produced.)

      For you, all forms of religion, spirituality, yoga and other practices are woo-woo. And all practitioners are money-grubbing capitalists. Hmmm. For the first point, I guess you look at the entire history of human painting, from paleolithic to contemporary art as all the same, just the haphazard splashing on pigment on some surface. To the second point, while scientific physics underlies the repair techniques of the mechanic fixing a car, some mechanics break more than they fix while others can find a way to rescue an irreparable car from the junkyard. Skill, judgement, talent make the real mechanic. (Oops, and none of those are material phenomena.)

      I fail to see how the snarky, sarcastic contempt you show in your posting is conducive to an honest conversation with the original poster. I understand why he did not wish to respond to your post. Neither would I.

      And sorry, I do not have a book to sell to you.

      • boatrocker

        Meditation shaming? That, my wide eyed cultist, is rich.
        Between the rabid GOP claiming God on their side and your (in my country music voice)
        “Make the world go awaaaaaaayyyyyy”, well both sides are truly nuts.
        Funny how any benefits the woo woo yoga crowd espouses can’t be qualified, qualified or otherwise desribed in grown up
        Standard American English.

        Lower stress/blood pressure? A dog and daily walks in the woods take care of that.
        Focus? A stiff cup of coffee. Done.
        Positive attitude? Sure, as long as I can laugh at the woo woo namaste types for ‘more spiritual than thou’ attitudes.

        Again, behind every new age yuppie lurks a greedy capitalist. First comes the yoga classes, massages, past life therapy, silent meditation retreats, then the checkbook comes out and you write a few to some guy you met online. Classy.

          • Peter Robbins

            Yeah, I know. I’m hoping meditation will help with that. Once I get through all these scientific studies that the masters of my cult keep publishing in peer-reviewed journals and medical textbooks.

          • boatrocker

            Actually I did as I’m a glutton for punishment and love reading how science and fairy tales should be considered the same.

          • The Real World

            Ok well, there’s the thing right there. You need neither masters nor a cult (I think I get your drift by ‘cult’ in this convo).

            Rely on facts, reason, reality and your own abilities and you’ll be fine. Best way to live in my humble opinion.

          • Peter Robbins

            I’m talking about the article I linked to, boatrocker, not the letter to the editor. You think the article I linked to is full of fairy tales?

          • boatrocker

            I did read it. That does not, however, mean I’m about to take that up as a hobby.
            Meditation just doesn’t do it for me.
            Sorry, posting a link to something does not automatically make the reader a proponent.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        With him it’s more like “Bee HIve here now”

  2. Lulz

    Ah, the suicidal left now trying to associate God with their doctrine. But God does not agree with abortion or homosexuality or infidelity and yet will be attacked for it. See, when you pervert the word of God to fit your narrative, you don’t relegate His words to the absurd. You in all reality show how much you need to manipulate Scripture to justify your actions. And what’s even more ironic is that the leftist have now been indoctrinate to associate Islam with their cause in order to subdue Christians. Yer Sharia isn’t their salvation but in all realty will be their curse.

  3. john kuykendall

    Science has a profound impact on all aspects of life spreading into our thoughts and culture, transforming paradigms, inspiring and changing our perceptions about the universe and our relationship with it. Christian mysticism on the other hand, is about developing a direct insightful experience, relationship and communion with the beautiful, reasonable energy of the universe and its awe-inspiring power deep within, calling it God. Science and mysticism offer us the depth to be able to change the direction of our basic concepts and outlook of the world around us by pointing to Infinity and something beyond matter. Viewing the universe from the perspective of Infinity radically changes our thoughts for the better in a whole-world view of unity, observing our finite self in infinity. https://www.amazon.com/John-J-Kuykendall/e/B018AK0WKY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

    • boatrocker

      Funny how that Kek thing was absorbed by the altright.
      Meme’s are the altright version of Dungeons and Dragons.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Tnis is some seriously funny stuff

      “Kek is a synchromystic malware in the matrix, and if we push hard enough via Pepe we can break the hologram and be free.”

      • boatrocker

        May your daughter one day date someone with darker skin and non blond/red hair so you are forced to articulate your beliefs out loud for her to hear in their entirety at the Thanksgiving dinner table. May they also marry and be fruitful and multiply.

  4. Amber Victoria

    Hello Andy,

    I am interested in hearing more of your thoughts along this subject matter and bouncing ideas off of you. I have a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and have been searching personally for ways to wrap my head around the dogma that is the Scientific Method and the incredible boost that the Darwinian Revolution gave to Imperialism.

    I am currently an entrepreneur based in Asheville and would love to discuss this more with you. Specifically, I am interested in the correlation between ecological wellbeing and the spiritual attention of our race. Much Love.

    • Andy Shaw

      Hi Amber,

      Thank you for your comments. My master’s thesis was published in the fall of 2015 by Waldorf Publications as part of their Online Waldorf Library. The title is Spiritual Ecology: Overcoming the Onlooker Consciousness & Healing Our Alienation from the Earth. It’s free for anyone with a computer or other internet device. My email address is on the front cover if you want to get in touch.



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