Both Scientific and Spiritual Responses
The question "Are Parts of Human Experience Beyond Scientific Understanding?" provoked interesting and diverse responses from CTT participants. Below is a selection from the opinions that visitors to this web site have sent us. If you want to add your own, click on Send Us Your Thoughts.
Human life is based on two paradoxes: Consciouness and Uniqueness. It's wonderful to "know" so much but terrible to realize your eventual demise. It's wonderful to be totally unique but it's terrible to be so alone: All human endeavor is concerned with a frantic attempt to mitigate this loneliness.
Jim, August 11, 2003
Science is simply a detail of Truth. Truth stands absolute and alone unaltered by man or belief.
Truth will be revealed in totality and won't people be surprised!
L. Kunda, July 9, 2003
For me, humans and everything else are only by-products of the universe-an evolutionary universe that is realized/animated through the mind. Everything perceived or not is shaped by thought-including the thoughtful construction of god. God, like most belief systems is only a thought-a thought that is created by the thinking animal. Without a perceiver there is no perception or the perceived. Life is clearly located in the mind. We use our body to interact with the external world and the brain is a big part of that process. This is life for me as a thinking animal, everything else is secondary.
Tyrone, June 1, 2003
I have been writing about science for popular media for 30 years and I'm convinced people need and are more satisfied by a convincing story about what things mean, than by scientific findings. Even though I'm committed to the scientific viewpoint wherever it is applicable, science does not have all the answers as yet. So the problem is, it seems to me, how do we find meaning without stories? We can't. I think we need some new unifying stories.
G. W. Gerlich, May 16, 2003
I do not think the two realms are necessarily separate. Our physical and mental processes are interconnected, but energy is neither created or destroyed, but it can change form. When a person dies, the physical body decomposes and returns nutrients to the system. The mental (or what I think of as electrical energy) or "soul" portion obviously is changed or transformed to something else. I have been there when a couple of people close to me passed away, and there was a definite release of energy. The question is what form that energy takes once the physical being ceases functioning, that is, what is "life" after "death."
Allan Mauer, May 09, 2003
I don't believe that we should argue about if science will help us find the meaning of life or religion will. I think that the closer we get to God, we can achieve the impossible, like find out the meaning if life or the future. I think that science and religion can be the same rank.
Faiza, May 02, 2003
An excellent discussion tonight. It made me glad to see these essential matters aired out. However, it was a pity nobody was there to demonstrate the Buddhist perspective. I believe it would have opened up another dimension, another perspective on the ultimate.
The Dalai Llama said: "If science proves aspects of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism must change."
Tristan, April 14, 2003
I can remember sitting in an advanced math class in high school, being introduced to equations that involved infinity. I actually felt a little frightened of the notion that some number, some quantity, could be so large that you could never, no matter how advanced or how intelligent you became, measure it. I think that the human experience derives from a shared problem- my fellow humans seem to also have trouble explaining the infinite. I've come to believe that our personal definitions of Reality (from God to Quantum Theory) tantalize us with the notion that someday, we'll finally understand all of the answers to the question... "Why?"
Evan Wade, April 13, 2003
There seem to be two extremes; believers who are intent on twisting any scientific finding to suit their own ideology, and scientists who treat the quest for meaning as irrelevant. Since humans have been seeking "meaning" answers from the beginning, perhaps science should study WHY we as a species seem to be hardwired to ask those kinds of questions.
Leo Nagorski, April 7, 2003
I'm an agnostic on whether parts of human experience are forever beyond scientific understanding; I don't know. There may be ultimate limits to science, but that shouldn't stop us from pressing the search and expanding the boundaries of our understanding of human experience. Just think of the understanding we have gained in the search so far.
Norton Belknap, March 18, 2003
One of the things that makes the scientific method powerful is the limits we put on it: it pertains to testable hypotheses with predictive power, tested using observation and experiment. Those parts of the human experience that are untestable and unprovable are by definition outside the realm of scientific understanding. To me, it seems that far more than just the existence of god, or religious truths, exists in this realm. Human experience may be derived from electrical and chemical impulses, but it doesn't feel that way, does it? That's a gap science may never be able to bridge.
Greg Okin, March 17, 2003
I think its clear we're still at an early stage in understanding the universe -- both scientifically and in religious or spiritual terms. These different modes of thought and knowing are in conflict only when people interpret them so narrowly as to deny other modes of thought. To me, that means it is simply too early to say whether the insights from each will ultimately coincide or differ.
Allen Hammond, March 16, 2003
Science is able to explain the basis for existence: Religion gives us the ability to hope for things that science cannot explain. My beliefs give me a reason to face each day in a positive way while science gives me the hope of a better world through its medical breakthroughs and the ability to help understand the world around us.
Mary Gant, March 16, 2003