(Spirituality : Religion) : (Science : Technology)
This is the current draft of an essay that's been bubbling up for a while. If I had more time, it would be shorter. Polite comments appreciated.(Spirituality : Religion) : (Science : Technology)
by David E Romm
Spirituality is true whether you believe it or not. Religion is political.
Science is true whether you believe it or not. Technology is political.
For a long time, those attempting to defend their belief in Creationism (or, worse, Intelligent Design) have tried to compare Religion and Science. As if that would justify denying G_d's gift of a brain. No, the comparison doesn't work on any level. Here's one reason why.
Religions start with a personal connection to the universe. Usually, one person's great spiritual awakening: Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed. Some stories might be apocryphal, but are no less powerful as tales of enlightenment. Sometimes these people build on previous insights, but their insight is no less for the individual finding their place in the universe.
Most religious texts start off with those insights. Monotheism. The Ten Commandments. The 8 Fold Path. The Way.
Spirituality is true whether you believe in it or not. Spirituality is an individual's direct connection to this world, the larger world outside your immediate senses and, perhaps, the next. One person's spirituality may evolve over time, and the lessons may need to be relearned in different contexts. Spirituality is personal, and true.
These spiritual awakenings flower into religions. How do you uphold the Ten Commandments? People build a complex and interrelating set of traditions, beliefs and physical objects, all to support their spirituality. It is not necessary to have the trappings of religion to realize the personal insights of spirituality. Many people would disagree, which seems the wrong way to honor their creator.
Religion is the application of spirituality to everyday life. Religion reminds us that we are more alike than we are different, and brings a group of people together through shared beliefs, actions and talismans. You can still follow the Ten Commandments if you don't pray in shul or wear a cross. You can still achieve the right concentration without spinning prayer wheels.
Once you have achieved enlightenment, you then have to act enlightened. That's what religion is for. At least, that's what religious people claim. But different religions sprout from the same spirituality, as new insights are gained and new acts are called for.
Religion is true for its adherents. Clearly, religion is a group construct, even if practiced in solitary, and only true for those in the group. Believers are sure that they are right; sometimes they are sure that only they are right. Too often, this leads them to break with their spiritual enlightenment to further the political goals of the religion.
Someone who does not follow a long-established religion can be spiritual. The theists, who believed in a Supreme Being, and the Unitarians, who believe in a Supreme Being but not the divinity of Jesus, are all exploring their spirituality while questioning if not rejecting much of the constructs of Christianity. And a reminder: Religion is for those sill living. What happens in the next life, if there is a next life, is unknown. All religions claim that their beliefs, actions and talismans are the way to please the creator, yet the creator is notoriously silent on specifics. We are created in G_d's image, says the scripture of many religions. It is a severe mistake to create G_d in our image.
Again: Religion is the application of Spirituality. Spirituality is personal. Religion is political. Religion is hierarchical, requiring paperwork and someone in power to sign the paperwork. Religion means money, ego and power.
Science starts with observation, then proceeds to questions, then testing, then analysis. Often, science starts with a personal connection to the universe. Some stories may be apocryphal, but are no less powerful as tales of enlightenment. Newton and the apple gaining insight into gravity. Archimedes in the bath realizing the principle of buoyancy. August Kekule dreaming of the benzine molecule. Einstein's thought experiments leading to the Special Theory of Relativity.
Most science texts starts off with those simple insights, then build. The inclined plane, leading to the design of the screw and the pulley. zero, leading to algebra and calculus.
Science is true whether you believe it or not. Because science is based on the known universe as described by the repeatable experiment,the principles of science can be refined and even changed, but dcience is how the universe was created, and out search for better questions and better answers. If you will: Science is G-D's will.
Science flowers into tools and devices that help us reach farther. How do you deal with Einstein's equations? You develop the laser, the transistor, the atomic bomb and develop atomic power. It is not necessary to develop technology to realize the implications of a range of scientific discoveries. Many people don't see it that way, and claim that the device is the science, which seems the wrong way to apply the scientific method.
Technology is is the application of science to everyday life. Technology reminds us that people do more or less the same things more or less the same way, and everyone likes to use a tool to make things easier or more powerful. You can still make a phone call if don't want to use a smart phone. You can still cook on a wok even if you don't use an electric stove. You can still play a musical instrument even if it isn't amplified.
And yet, once you have achieved a certain level of technology, you can't imagine the world without it. The printing press, recorded sound, the scientific method and others have made a synergistic change to how we think. Not what, but how. Each answered question leads to more questions. Each insight leads to more insight.2001: A Space Odyssey
posited that there humans were defined as tool users, with no difference between bone-wielding apes and h-bomb wielding 21st century armies. Tools are to use. At least, that's what their adherents claim.
Again: Technology is the application of science. Science works for everyone in the same way. Technology is political. Technology uses resources, and recourses require management. Technology is hierarchical, requiring paperwork and someone in power to sign the paperwork. That means money, ego and power.
An apt comparison can be made between Spirituality and Science: Both are true regardless of anyone else's belief. And an apt comparison can be made between Religion and Technology: Both involve hierarchies, academia and subject to interpretation. To compare Science and Religion are wrong, as would be to compare Technology and Spirituality. too many people mix up the universal with the specific.