Summary and Conclusions
Science has been remiss in assuming that its means of acquiring knowledge can be obtained exclusively through the scientific method in conjunction with technological progress. It is also evident that transposing ideologies from one culture to another will be fraught with misconceptions and false premises if viewed through a scientific filter or any single viewpoint as methodologies differ in obtaining information from one culture to another as we have seen in the example of Indian beliefs versus those of Western civilization.
For science to synthesize data from both rational and non-rational sources of knowledge, it would have to become more unified and homogenized. It does not currently contain a systematic exposition of its basic principles and can be more aptly described as being a fund of knowledge that is agreed upon by a group of educated individuals working within a rather restricted field of study. Science has been primarily based on reductionism with physics and mathematics constituting the pyramid from which new knowledge is derived. The social sciences and humanities have also been moving towards more mathematical premises with some rather odd if not ridiculous conclusions.
A massive paradigm shift is desperately needed within the scientific community. The new concept that the universe is alive and may have purpose and morality as its fundamental state of being forces us to change our current patterns of thinking and embrace a whole new reality involving our purpose and destiny. Science must give credence to the fact that it must see intelligence in all forms of existence from inert matter to living organisms. This notion implies a universe of complexity and cooperation in which all species play a vital role and no coincidences apply.
Some new perspectives regarding scientific methodology encourage the scientist to be a part of the experimentation process as a way of reducing the need for total objectivity. This leads to a new question to be asked. How do we describe a person who is to be engaged in scientific research? That person must be holistic, ethical in thought and emotionally involved in the information that they seek; in other words, a whole person.
Science should continue to explore the reaches of the universe to increase our understanding and appreciation of the wonders of creation and to ensure that humanity fulfills its ultimate destiny: that which is in an ongoing process of invention and discovery.
Moving Towards a Holistic Scientific Paradigm
Our industrial-technological society is based on many implied assumptions related to who we are, what type of universe we inhabit and what is important and meaningful to us. Science has been largely relegated the task of responding to these inquiries and coming up with appropriate and logical conclusions. The materialistic foundation from which science has primarily drawn its answers now appears to be losing credibility and utility. Many scientists and professionals from other disciplines are in-agreement that there is a dramatic shift in progress, that steers away from previous reductionistic and positivistic ideologies and practices. Three notable shifts in assumption are:
1. A departure from the perception that the world has no particular purpose, that it is not mechanistic as previously thought and that it is being viewed now in a more holistic, organic and purposeful context.
2. From a scientific context, objectivity is being considered less important and subjective methods of inquiry are being embraced more readily.
3. Cultural changes have also been noted over the past 300 years that speak to a sense of wholeness and unity among all beings in connection with the universe. There is also acceptance in using our intuitions as a viable means of accessing reality.
It appears that modern society is becoming more spiritual but the new direction of this spirituality is more experiential, less institutionalized and less fundamentalist than most traditional religions have been historically. As humanity attempts to rediscover and/or re-invent the spiritual aspects of human experience, science is simultaneously trying to integrate spirituality with conscious awareness as a means of promoting a better grasp of reality. If this inquiry results in a change in the foundation of scientific verities and thus a change in that of society’s worldview, a shift in cultural values would logically follow that would include a re-defining of all our major institutions and their ultimate purpose and functions.
The Shift Towards a Holistically Oriented Science
Science has traditionally based its concepts on the assumption that all knowledge is based on physical data: that which can be experienced via the senses and verified to be objective and replicable. The inclusion of subjective experiences and intuitions have not been accepted as a valid means of accessing and comprehending reality, due to the notion that their premonitions are simplistic or even naive.
Today, science has begun to embrace the concepts of oneness, unity, and interconnectedness within its historical framework of separateness and reductionism. This point of view is a revival of previously held beliefs and intuitions that guided indigenous peoples throughout human history and that also formulated the basis for the “perennial wisdom” of the world’s spiritual traditions.
That science must become more holistic in its philosophy and practices is becoming more widely accepted and articulated by professionals from most scientific and non-scientific disciplines. However, the implications of what this means is quite radical and would alter the way we perceive and practice science altogether. First of all, if everything were considered interconnected and that changes in any part of a system effect the whole system, the notion of cause and effect would greatly diminish in importance and would apply primarily in isolated situations in which the factors in question were indeed able to be isolated for observation and replication as practiced in traditional scientific methodology.
Therefore, the new scientific paradigm would focus on illuminating and understanding the whole system (the universe) and large systems (such as planet Earth and its varied ecosystems) and their workings as opposed to the current goals of predicting and controlling nature.
An important if not vital implication of this new outlook would be that reality would be accessible to us not only through our senses but also through our being a part of the whole of reality and the deep intuitive knowing that is intrinsic in our nature.