Science and the Paranormal


"Question reality and be open to every impossibility.
That is the road to discovery."

"The spirit of science is the spirit of courage!"

"The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance
-- the idea that anything is possible."

A scientist and her brother, who was a clergyman, were in a car. They were driving down a straight road on a sunny day. At the same moment, they both spotted something in the road ahead.

"That's a dead animal," the clergyman pronounced.

"No, it's just a pile of rags," stated the scientist.

When they arrived at the spot, they pulled over and got out of the car to look at the object so they could settle their dispute. It was a small, rounded animal carrier with a live ferret inside. Evidently it had fallen off the back of a vehicle.

"That's a dead animal," insisted the clergyman.

"No, it's just a pile of rags," the scientist persisted.

Frustrated with each other, the two siblings got back into the car, changed the subject, and continued their journey.

The unfortunate ferret hoped that the next passersby would have the sense to get out of their own way and see what was in front of their faces.

I have never understood why science and religion can't agree on things that were everyday obvious to hundreds of previous generations: God or Gods, unending life, the connectedness of all things.

After all, the paranormal is the mother of both science and religion. We humans have always seen the unexplained, and we have had a passionate need to understand it so we don't have to fear it anymore. We have always looked to religion and science for answers and security in the face of a paranormal universe.

At times in our history and prehistory, religion and science have been identical twins. At other periods, one has served -- even been enslaved to -- the other. But since the 18th century, the situation has become unique. They have become enemies. But I think it's a phony war. It isn't science and religion that are at odds, it's their respective "clergy" and their interpretations of science and religion. There are scientists on one side and priests, ministers, gurus, what have you, on the other. Making the problem worse are fundamentalists on both sides. And both science and religion are estranged from their mother, the paranormal.

The whole "family" is dysfunctional for the same reasons many of our own families are: misunderstandings, misinterpretations, misplaced pride, turf battles, an unwillingness to listen to others and, worst of all, the complete absence of humility.

Back in the car, our scientist may be listening.

"Look here, Eno! In science, a fact is a fact, and it's not a matter of interpretation."

Well, old sweetheart, the FACT is that we know practically nothing for certain about our universe, our world, our own minds, or ourselves. We're just too scared or too pigheaded to admit it.

Virtually every scientific discovery poses more questions than it answers, and many "facts" of science past have been overturned by subsequent discoveries. Scientists in most every field are at each other's throats over one "fact" or another. The very basis of modern science -- the scientific method (observation, theory, experiment, law) -- is being shaken by the mind-blowing insights of quantum physics. It's also being shaken by corporate research money, scientists who cheat, and the fact that you can't explain a multi-dimensional universe with a three-dimensional method.

In the car, our clergyman perks up.

"See, Sis! Science is a mess. Religion is our only sure grounding!"

Hold on, old darling! Religion is in more of a mess than science and for precisely the same reasons. Members of some religions are killing and persecuting others, even within their own religions. People remake God in their own image. Some religions worship people and causes rather than God. Still others are bogged down in scandals. Most are self-obsessed. And in their pettiness, most have cheated us all by making God far, far too small.

And amid the whole muddled stew, where is God? Where is genuine knowledge? Where is the truth? How do we begin again?

To make a start at recovery, I believe that the first requirement is humility. Humility helps us get out of our own way so we can see things as they really are and so that we can listen to each other.

But humility isn't encouraged today. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much absent from modern society. That's because most everything about ourselves and the world we have created is false. We are no longer connected with the Earth as our ancestors were. We live in artificial environments and spend our days doing artificial things. We no longer have the silence we need to listen and to pray.

But both God and knowledge are honest. And humility is the beginning of honesty.

Without humility, we will never bring the "family" back together. We will never see ourselves as we really are -- as each other. We will never learn from ourselves, our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers across the infinite worlds of the multiverse.

Without humility, we will never hear and feel every galaxy, star, planet, creature and atom crying out in praise and thanks to God, Who is the whole point of the universe.

With humility, we will finally realize that our ancestors weren't stupid, and that they intimately grasped what our shrunken minds and hearts will not: That science, religion and the paranormal are not only one and the same, they are only the beginning. 

Copyright 2005 by Paul F. Eno. All rights reserved.