We Humans have different ways of knowing things: from experience, for instance, or by intuition (hunches / gut feelings.) And then, more cumbersomely, there’s science – systematic observation and measurement. These different modes of inquiry deliver “facts” of different sorts. To learn if God exists and if He / She believes in us, you’d need to pray and meditate. Science is less exciting, perhaps, emotionally, but deemed most reliable for addressing the nuts and bolts of practical reality.
These varied ways stand side by side, without ever really completely respecting one another. When focused on their own domains they do OK. More badly when they venture onto one another’s turf. The odd tango of science and religion has continued for centuries, sometimes quite harmlessly, sometimes with beaucoup de blood and burnings at the stake.
Back in the Hippy days, a lot of us learned to look beyond the rational and scientific, which, we’d been taught in school, were touchstones of reality. Psychedelic drugs revealed that there were worlds on other planes that science hardly seemed to know exist. Mystical experience is not inimical to science, but comes at life from a different angle. It certainly doesn’t meet the requirements of “empirical inquiry,” which demand objectivity, measurement and duplicability. A few smart voices in The West, like Ram Dass, Trungpa, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, and R.D. Laing, seemed hip to something very large that science didn’t or could not recognize. Eastern philosophy, especially Zen, emphasized that there was no need for philosophies at all, or even beliefs. The key was to be conscious, Here and Now. The world is as it is. That’s all.
I seized upon the Eastern view with zeal and some relief because I was a lazy man who had no idea of what my life should be. I thought, Well, hell, If being Here and Now is all there is, we are already here and now. No need to seek or think about such trivia as money or career. And, furthermore, since value systems are arbitrary human inventions, there’s no need to evaluate yourself. (This spares you the peril of judging yourself below par.) Apparently, we’re good enough exactly as we are!
Today a toxic narcissist and his huge flock of purblind sheep, apparently informed by something higher than we know, have turned away from science, dismissing the experts and claiming their data are lies. Their intrepid leader, one Lucidus Trump, whom someone should have given a white cane for father’s day, seems to think that the cosmos is all about Him. (Why be distracted by the facts?) The fool has publicly opined that those who wear face masks these days do so primarily to mock and frustrate him. 80 million stubborn bozos to the right of right dismiss the whole pandemic – yup, along with climate change – as a huge hoax. (And those who die? Well, clearly, they are far too credulous!) One dude, interviewed on TV recently, when asked why anyone would want to perpetrate the viral hoax, had his response at hand. “The deep state likes to make up stuff and bury us in rules to see how far the public can be pushed. They think we’re sheep!”
It rained the other day and I went out. The thunder was magnificent. The clouds were black and dense. I got real wet. It looked like rain and smelled like rain, but, these days, how can you be sure? Might it not be that Biden or the Skull and Bones elite have found a way to make us think it’s rain, but really not?