Science and religion have historically had a tension between them. Science’s goal is primarily to explain the world objectively (how do things work?), which often is extrapolated using subjective narratives (Lawrence Krauss). Religion’s primary goal is to understand the world subjectively (more the “why me” question), which often uses objective language as a basis of evangelical and fundamentalist belief systems.
As science has progressed it has increasingly infringed upon the objective belief systems of certain religions, explaining such things as why earth is not the center of the universe and evolution did in fact occur. Followers of more fundamental belief systems have had to adjust their message, which has created somewhat of a siege mentality. Religious belief systems that have remained more subjective, or internally focused, have been impacted less. The more contemplative aspects of belief system like Buddhism, Hinduism and parts of Judaeo-Christianity have been able to integrate the progression of science, often opening up deeper understanding.
The on-going progression of scientific knowledge suggests the tension between the two sides will continue. But will science ever explain subjectivity, or the feeling of self and all the creative initiatives produced by it? Many neurologists would argue yes, our feeling of self is simply a product of a very complex physical system we do not yet understand. (Materialism or Physical-ism)
My reading has largely focused on the science side, trying to understand the theories and predictions of how we will understand consciousness. What I missed was a slide backwards on the subjective side. If our society is becoming more objective in its focus (possessing things and explaining our world objectively in the third person), are we losing hold of our subjectivity?
Franciscan monk Richard Rohr argues we are not truly conscious when we are focused on the objects around us (including objectified other people), as opposed to truly seeing the life present around us.
“To love is to be conscious, and to be fully conscious would mean you are capable of loving. Sin always proceeds from lack of consciousness. I don’t think most people are sinners; most people are just not aware and not fully living in their own present moment.” – Richard Rohr
It is a message fairly consistent within religions: avoid the distractions of the objects around us. In other words, focus on the subjective view. A quote from the approximately 2,400 year old Bhagavad Gita:
“Pleasures conceived in the world of the senses have a beginning and an end and give birth to misery. The wise do not look for happiness in them.” – Bhagavad Gita 5:22
Yet this raises a quandary and a concern. If we are only conscious in a religious way when we do not focus on the objects of this reality, how can science, which bases its theories on objects, understand the high level of consciousness offered in religion? More concerning, does humanity lose its ability to reach higher levels of consciousness as our society relies more on object-oriented scientific theories to explain our world? Is scientific research a self-fulfilling prophesy? Rely on objects to understand our world, thus losing access to our duality, or higher consciousness!
In this way both science and religion are right. Human consciousness will become simply a physical manifestation, leaving behind the spiritual gateway to something greater. Pulling up the analogy from a previous post, we become zombies lacking a higher consciousness! (Has anyone else thought of people on their “smart” phones as zombies? Considered them self a zombie when on it?)
Alternatively, will science either hit a wall or discover new dimensions and develop new theories that make religious consciousness more scientifically feasible?
To put in in terms of my book Evolved, a silicon human could then reach the same level of consciousness as an organic human.