Science, Religion, and Human History


Modern science is primarily mechanistic and reductionistic: cause and effect is the basis of all its explanations. Most of its practitioners, and many others interested in it, see reality as entirely material. What can be seen and measured (or at least logically inferred) is seen as all there is. I think much of this is a reaction against organized religion and the concept of the “supernatural”.
Some religious believers are just the opposite, believing in “supernatural” explanations for everything, and refusing to accept scientific explanations, though these are usually accurate in science’s area of expertise. I think both worldviews exclude too much, and some scientists, and others, agree.
In a conversation with an adherent of science I argued that it was possible to take a scientific approach to religion, and cited a quote that Sufis (usually thought to be connected with Islam) had done so, testing various “spiritual” practices, accepting those they could verify, and rejecting those they couldn’t.
The science adherent seemed to have trouble with that concept, apparently assuming that all science must always be the same. Archaeological discoveries seem to disprove this, though few acknowledge that.
Colin Wilson, in Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals, tells of a conversation with an archaeologist in Egypt, who said there was a ritual that had to be performed three times to “activate” a certain temple. When asked, “Like turning on an electric light?”, the other replied, “EXACTLY like turning on an electric light.”
An example of this is an experiment performed in the Great Pyramid. A man stretched a sheet of plastic over a sarcophagus, put sand on it, and turned on a sine wave generator connected to a small loudspeaker. The sand arranged itself into shapes of Egyptian religious symbols: an ankh, a Pharaoh’s headdress, and Eye of Horus. Was this magic, or technology? Arthur C. Clarke observed that a sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic. In this case, I suspect the cause was an acutely developed science of acoustics used throughout the pyramid. As far as I’m aware, we have nothing as sophisticated in this area.
Chandra Bose, an Indian scientist, did a series of experiments showing consciousness in metals. Not only metal fatigue (a fairly common concept), but metal “laziness”.
Clive Backster, in the 1960s attached pickups like lie detectors on plants, and got electric responses to various stimuli. The only problem with that was that other scientists couldn’t replicate the experiments. According to a recent article in the New Yorker, though, consciousness in plants seems to be demonstrated in other ways. Plants can, to some extent defend themselves against predators, for instance, by making their leaves taste bad, or emitting a smell that brings predators to prey on the predators. They also seem to exhibit choice in which way their roots are going to grow. We can’t ordinarily see these things because they happen so slowly, but consciousness seems to be everywhere.
I told the science adherent of a friend who happens to be a professional scientist living in Trinidad, who also has been involved in the local Vodoun religion. I had heard, some years ago, an interview with a man who was both a priest and a scholar of Vodoun, who said that the “gods” of Vodoun were unlike the transcendent God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but more like humans: some mostly good, some mostly bad, but all more powerful than humans. I eventually wrote my friend about this man, and my friend agreed with his assessment. I don’t think mainstream science accepts these “gods” as existing, let alone deeming them worthy of investigation. Since my friend accepts their existence, I will too, unless proven mistaken. I find it interesting that my friend, with his scientific background, has room in his worldview for these “gods”, whether or not he has any explanation for them. In our conversation about this he described himself as being both an atheist and a polytheist.
The above is an example of a subject science doesn’t usually address. Many more are found in ancient history and prehistory. The general narrative of human development is that nothing we can recognize as civilization began before about 8,000 BC, about the time the cities of Jericho and Catal Huyuk in Turkey were built. They were agricultural civilizations, and no high civilization is thought to have come earlier than them.
But Wilson cites a La Quinta disc, which he says is dated at over 100,000 years old, and employs measurements also used in megalithic architecture found in much of the world. These measurements are interesting because they are based on accurate measurement of the earth a very long time ago. They survived in (among other places) the English measurement called the rod which, when multiplied by itself, equals a kilometer. When multiplied by the Golden Section (1.618), the result is 320, the number of rods in one mile. The Golden Section is particularly interesting in itself because it is a proportion found in much of nature, including the human body.
Similarly, the acre was based on a decimal fraction of the square of the Earth’s radius, and certain ancient weight measures were based on the density of water and gold. Graham Hancock adds that the Great Pyramid is (among other things) a representation of the northern hemisphere of the Earth, to the scale of 43,200 to one (a scale with its own significance). Building the pyramid to such a precise scale required complex mathematics, as well as technology we know nothing of today.
Another example of sophisticated knowledge is the Ninevah number, a very large one, found on a clay tablet in the ruined city of Ninevah. It is particularly interesting because the length of the Great Year of the precession of the equinoxes divides into it equally. This Great Year refers to the sun rising into a particular constellation at the spring equinox, and the amount of time it takes for the constellation to precess around the zodiac until the sun rises in it again. The number of years that takes is just under 26 million.
Even more interesting is that the periods of all the astronomical bodies of the solar system divide equally into the Ninevah number when they’re translated into seconds. This means that at a very early date humans had not only accurately measured the Earth, but knew how the solar system was constructed, and the length of the orbits of not only the planets, but their satellites. This suggests they must have had telescopes at a very early date–unless they had some other method of obtaining such knowledge. Remember that Ninevah was destroyed near the end of the 8th century BC, when Assyria’s neighbors allied against her.
One or two of these examples might might be coincidence. A whole series of them indicates a high civilization much earlier than we usually think. We tend to assume a high civilization must look like ours, employing technology we’re familiar with. I think that suggests a lack of imagination on our part.
Schwaller de Lubicz, who studied ancient Egypt in great depth, said, “Egyptian science, Egyptian art, Egyptian medicine, Egyptian astronomy, were not seen as different aspects of Egyptian life; they were all aspects of the same thing, which was religion in its broadest sense. Religion was identical with knowledge.” And added, “…over four thousand years, ancient Egypt did not ‘have’ a religion as such; it was religion</in its entirety”. This is underlined by ancient Egyptians having no word for religion.
I think above examples show that neither extreme adherence to religion (at least the dogmatic kind) nor to science is accurate. Religion’s vision gets lost in foolish beliefs when without rigor. Modern science often loses its vision in details. A wider and deeper view is needed in both cases. That’s the reason for seeking a higher consciousness. Such consciousness doesn’t mean just changing ideas, but awareness, providing a better, because more complete, perspective.
Both religion and science have become institutionalized. Ideally, science is open to challenge, but that Egyptian archaeologists have failed to plausibly explain the building of the Great Pyramid, among other things, shows the discipline’s inability to analyze the data either widely or deeply. New ideas have mostly come from outside the field.
Institutions become dogmatic, and their beliefs abstract. When we look at the world (or a field of study) as if we already know it, it doesn’t seem alive. But there are other ways of seeing. Some are achieved through use of hallucinogens, but there are exercises that can have the same effect.
One might call the difference between views mechanistic vs intuitive. One might be defined as seeing details without an accurate big picture; the other as seeing a big picture without necessarily knowing a lot of details. One method isn’t better than the other: both are needed to complement each other. This is where science and a LIVING religion can and should reconcile.


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