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Science, Religion and the Objective Fallacy


The answers of current science apply only within a materialist view of the cosmos, constrained not only by the limitations of such a view, but also an insidious need, driven by intellectual pride and fear, to defend the monolith of its making at all costs. Fortunately, there are some scientists, philosophers, medical and psychological professionals who are beginning to recognise the nakedness of this worn out objectivist emperor.

Recognizing there is real evidence for a need to revise our understanding of the universe is one thing; getting such evidence past the “watchers at the limits” of our current scientific religion is another altogether. But, for those willing to inspect and understand this evidence it becomes clear just how blind we are to our inherent nature, and how the false beliefs we hold about ourselves create those universal interpretations we call our “scientific” and religious “realities”.

To Jung and other great thinkers we owe our understanding of how unconscious psychic dynamics manifest as projected religious phenomena and beguile us into creating our mythologies. There is nothing new to be said here. Nevertheless, the mechanics of religious projection give us a clear example of how the objective fallacy operates. Both place “out there” something structured by dynamics of which we are unconscious, but while projection creates an invisible, metaphysical reality that is only “real” in the mind of the projector, the objective fallacy underwrites the way in which all “obvious” physical reality is perceived, investigated and understood.

So is science wrong? That depends. Science as a method of enquiry is possibly mankind’s greatest intellectual achievement. But even the best tools fail when used improperly, or for the wrong purpose. And there is always the case where those using a tool believe they are using it correctly, even if the work they are shaping seems to be falling apart. Should this anomaly be pointed out in the case of science, the answer will be: “we must go where the facts lead.” Assuredly, provided we utilise all the facts, and we are certain that the facts themselves are not, in truth, artifacts.

Science and the Religious Function

Jung liked to say that the foundation of all fanaticism is doubt. There is a difference between knowing and believing, and each one of us really does know this difference, even if there are times we would rather not admit it. We know it in much the same way as we know when we are awake. When we are asleep it is quite possible for a dream to have us believe we are awake, but when we are awake there is no way we could ever mistake the fact that we were. We know it in the same visceral way that we “know” something is, for us, a fact rather than our merely believing it is. When our life, livelihood or self esteem depend upon a belief system, then we have to deny within ourselves that we know this difference between knowing and believing. In effect we repress the truth: i.e. that we don’t truly know, so that we can enhance the grip belief has upon our feelings. The repression of the one creates the enhancement of the other – the greater the doubt, the more forceful the expression of belief becomes. It all depends upon the amount of doubt we have to swallow, and in both religion and science some of these doubts can be a fairly hefty meal, so some serious proselytizing is required to maintain the force of our belief in them.

There is, of course, a great difference between the belief of those who could not know, and that of those who ought to know. A person brought up in rural circumstances and whose work and thoughts have ever revolved about the soil and seasons could not be expected to make a good choice when presented with a falsehood about particle physics. It would be a very different story, however, should a physicist insist that such a falsehood was actually true.
For those who could not now, there is always some positive value that makes a certain thing worth believing, the belief fulfils a need which would otherwise go begging until it found another. Thus it is satisfactory to contain these possible falsehoods with a certain equanimity, and also to believe such things to be “really true” without any need to repress the knowledge that we “know” they may not be.
For those who ought to know, however, the story is very different. They know exactly what the hard questions are and where these lurk within the structure of their belief systems. Thus if complete belief is demanded, the fervor of their devotion to the “truth” must not only overwhelm and obliterate the facts which make up the essence of such hard questions, it must also repel them from any situation where such facts might be accepted as data needing further interpretation.
This situation reveals to us why, at learned edge of any subject, one will find a group whose devotion to their own belief system precludes the possibility that any other than they could have the truth, and the possibility that their truth could in any way be false. The cult like exclusivity of such thinking is legend in both religious and scientific matters and its effect made even worse by the fact that the route to knowledge and validation in such subjects is often controlled by those who have the greatest vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
In this way, science as practised becomes the enemy of true science, for all facts, all that is “known” is the data for true scientific enquiry. By its very essence, science is the business of uncovering and denying falsehoods. When it begins to deny facts for the sake of creating and maintaining incomplete, or indeed false, representations of reality, it is science no longer, but merely religion in a new guise.
All this, of course, has been said before. But in the face of the dominant and ultimately nihilistic viewpoint of our current high priests of the cosmic all, it needs saying again and again.
Let us look, with respect to the problem of “mind”, at this most prevalent attitude in the modern sciences, i.e. that of the materialist or physicalist.

Mind, and its representative phenomenon of awareness, is either something in itself, or it is nothing. The physicalist view, which rules most of our scientific disciplines, insists that it is nothing. Indeed, the entire physicalist explanation of the universe stands or falls by this assertion, which is why it is so vehemently defended by those who have invested their lives in those scientific and philosophical pursuits which see both the universe and the human being as only the result of physical processes based on “natural” law. Mind is merely the result of brain process. Human beings are chemical robots, created by chance and hence enslaved to the contingencies of survival in a meaningless universe.

To assert that all subjectivity arises from “matter” (matter, which to “exist” can only be the object of a prior subjectivity), the default position then requires that matter must be essentially identical to God, who, of course, the physicalist asserts, cannot exist. Nevertheless, by insisting that “something” (an a-priori subjective apprehension) can “exist” (another subjective term) even if it is, like God himself, unknowable and has never been known, the physicalist makes a metaphysical assertion by which he then refutes his own position. Whether blind to the irony of his position or not, the materialist asserts the absolute a-priori nature of matter: it must be that way, you can see that it is.

The attitude of the materialist or physicalist philosophy is that of pure extroverted sensation, for which “seeing is believing” is not merely a motto, but exemplifies the exact correlation between sense perceptions and subsequent ideas about the nature of reality. This is not to say that extraverted sensation cannot admit the possibility of the unseen, but that any such must be reducible to physical functions and dynamics, even if they are the “ineffable” first causes of matter. Psychologically, this raises the problem of the missing or “inferior” function of introverted intuition; that function which amongst other things, apprehends for the intuitive individual his relationship to the dynamics of the unconscious. For the extraverted sensation type who has become totally immersed in a materialist viewpoint, his estrangement from the “spirit within” is complete, even though it remains active within his unconscious and hence projected into the world, not merely as a “deus absconditus” but as an absolute negative, a “deus nihilum”.
(See Richard Dawkins; The God Delusion for a classic example.)
For him, God must not exist, and through this very assertion, his intimate, even if negative, connection to the hidden god within is assured. His assertions about reality and his one sidedness evoke the very shadow of the creator himself. But chasing God from his universe always leads him back to the point of non reduction, the beginning, where the ineffability which clings to matter can no longer be negated but represents itself in the very image of that which he asserts cannot be true. By attributing to this projection everything which belongs to that which he denies in himself, the ineffable nature of his “primal matter” becomes indistinguishable from the dark nature of God. The active denial of God is no less a religious fervor – albeit a negative one – than that of God’s active affirmation. Thus does fervent materialism ultimately and always complete the circle that leads back to the unspeakable unity beneath all psychic apprehension – in this case, to the dark side of God; in psychological terms, to the negation of the soul.

Where extroverted sensation is supported by feeling rather than thinking, a differing form of materialist philosophy prevails, i.e., that of secular humanism. Where materialism offers no escape from the nihilism of its ideas, humanist philosophy, in its need to find connection and meaning in the world, discovers these things within the natural sphere of human life and its relationships, its culture and connection to the world. In its simplest form, as represented through the every day culture of western society, secular humanism sees the process of life in purely evolutionary terms; its moral and ethical philosophy based on the idea of the greatest good for the greatest number. Science, particularly social sciences based on behavioural psychology are its henchmen and supporters, and while the “spiritual welfare” of the individual might be considered important, such consideration is based only upon the notion of contentment, i.e. if believing in some metaphysical notion of the world makes you happy, then all is well. Nevertheless, secular humanism has no place for the possibility of any real metaphysical truths; such things are the product of human mythology; dreams and legends reducible to the homeostatic needs of our biological survival mechanism. Indeed, in the case of religious doctrine and dogma, this assertion is not wide of the mark, but humanism leaves the case for any real, personal experience of “otherness”, the initiating or original religious experience, open only to those biophysical explanations it supports.

Regardless of the individual perspectives of scientists themselves, “Science” as peddled to the masses through media and education denies mind, or consciousness, as an object and rejects all and any metaphysical implications of its activity. In the face of all evidence to the contrary, this one-sided and essentially religious position remains the guiding shadow of academic science, defending the dogma from heresy and all the while casting its protective gloom over the regal, scientific nakedness.

Science, Magic and the Metaphysics of Clunk

“From ghoulies and ghosties,
And long-leggedy beasties,
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!”

Whenever we try to explain anything unknown using the mechanisms and laws of the known human world, we are dealing in what I call the metaphysics of clunk, i.e. using physics to explain metaphysics, or using what we believe is objective to explain the subjective. The metaphysics of clunk are not only most visible in the outpourings of spiritualist and so called “new age” philosophies, they also underwrite the explanatory mechanisms of parapsychology and virtually all so called “religious” phenomena. They are also, of course, the metaphysics of the objective fallacy, and are nowhere more visible than in the realm of quantum physics, and thus by default, those philosophies which attempt to use quantum physics as an explanatory principle for both psychological and parapsychological phenomena.

Up until the twentieth century, the metaphysics of clunk worked. It was quite reasonable to suspect deeper physical mechanisms behind as yet unexplained phenomena, and in most cases, such explanations were indeed forthcoming. But science hit a wall somewhere around the turn of the twentieth century. Suddenly it seemed that the pure geometric logic which underwrote the cosmos must be wrong; suddenly a logically insurmountable paradox arose, and the only way around it was found through quantum physics. From that point on it seemed as if the divergence between pure geometric logic and our perceptions of the cosmos would have to remain, for there was no uniting principle apparent between the logic of the observed and the logic of the observer.

Logic is an essentially geometric function, in many ways abstracted from the fixed geometry of the world we perceive, but also inherent within the nature of mind itself.
It is the pure rational function par excellence and as far as we know, it is only in the realm of psychological behavior where it can be gainsaid. To put the point very simply and bluntly, the reason why physics, both relativistic and quantum mechanical, requires so much suspension of disbelief for us to accept its vision of cosmos, is not because it hit a physical wall, but a psychological one. Science hit the subjective wall of its own observational processes, and it still hasn’t accepted that such a wall exists as a truly invisible subjective function, for it continues to believe in the “objective reality”, not only of its observations, but also of the narrow, mechanistic and essentially materialistic hypotheses that follow from such observation.

The upshot of all this is rather sad, and amusing at the same time. Once, we were only misled by the objective fallacy operating invisibly between us and what we observed. Now we are misled by the objective fallacy intervening between us and the results of observation which it has already underwritten. For instance, when we try to use quantum theory to explain conscious mechanisms, we are using an already falsely attributed objective “fact” to try and explain the mechanism of what lies beneath it. Watching such thinking in action can be teeth grindingly frustrating, even amusing, but what is sad is that such thinking refuses to recognize even the simple logical fallacy in trying to explain subjective experience by objective mechanisms, whether these be subject to the objective fallacy or not.

It wasn’t just physics, however, that hit a subjective wall near the turn of the twentieth century. It looked like the whole materialist scientific edifice was about to take another far more serious hit with the rise of parapsychology.
But it didn’t.
Why? Well a library of books could be written on this subject, but suffice to say, it simply didn’t notice, nor care. The priests of the holy particle simply sermonized louder and longer, drowning out most of the local noise and not caring about what they couldn’t hear going on outside the church walls. The results of paranormal investigation continue to pile up, while the high priests of materialist science continue to ignore them, now in the most public and expansive ways possible in our media driven society. In TV specials and mainstream media articles we are bombarded with pop culture scientific propaganda telling us how both we and the universe came into being, how it will all end and everything that is likely to happen in between. And all doled out in careful sound bytes aimed at the five minute attention span and all underwritten by the materialist view of the presenter, who is ever so careful never to mention the existence of the vast array of armament now ranged against both his “theory as fact” presentations and his philosophic prejudice.

Getting the message out has never been more important and academic science is now right into the mainstream with its own culture of celebrity, hitting the prime time with slick voiceovers backed up by a dazzling array of digitally enhanced wonders. One has to ask why, but the answer is simple enough. What would happen if all those people out there started asking the hard questions; if they all started saying, “well, show us how all these other things fit into your view of the cosmic all, and then maybe we will accept your other ideas.” Of course, this would never happen in any such simplistic way, but the undercurrents are there, and academic science knows they are. Indeed, there has never been a time when the ground under our scientific view of the universe has been as uncertain as it is now. The fact that few in mainstream society realise this remains the ace up its sleeve. So people like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Roger Penrose et al, keep pushing the bluff, and hope they never get caught out. After all, tenure and funding depend on you’re being the man with the goods, so you’d better make sure everyone believes you’ve still got them.