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11/17/09

Have You Had A Spiritual Experience? What Does It Mean?

"According to polls, there's a 50-50 chance you have had at least one spiritual experience — an overpowering feeling that you've touched God, or another dimension of reality."

But is all this the result of neurons firing in your brain? Or is it an actual spiritual experience? Put differently, scientists can track neurons in your temporal lobe while you are having the experience, but does this "mean that there's nothing spiritual going on?

'No,' [one scientist, Devinsky,] says simply.

Think about a man and woman who are in love, Devinsky says. They look at each other, and in all likelihood, something fires in their temporal lobes.

'However, does that negate the presence of true love between them?' he asks. 'Of course not.' " More

Science has its own dogma and doctrine, with reductionism as part of them. In terms of scientific reductionism, there is this to consider, which can stand against reductionism without help from the dogma or doctrine of religion, if that is your choice. The writer is himself a secular Jew. His "religious education did not take." Here is what he says:

"Whatever the elementary particles are doing, they are not forming political alliances, or looking on one another with mute incoherent longing, or casting an anxious eye at the clock, or waking with a start in the early hours of the morning, wondering what it all means, or coming to realize that they are destined to fall like leaves of the trees leaving not a trace behind." Found in this.

I don't regard gaps in our knowledge as evidence for the divine; neither do I deny it. (I hold to what John Keats called Negative Capability.) Some gaps, but not all, will be narrowed, not closed, by reductionist methods. The divine? That requires faith and belief, a different approach.

With reductionist investigation a degree of mystery will always remain. Some call the mystery God. Others call it God of The Gaps, to diminish or disappear as they narrow.

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