SCIENCE, RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
Valdemar W. Setzer
The themes "Science and religion" and "Science and spirituality" have been lately the subject of many papers, debates and lectures. For instance, the B2005 Boyle Lecture, hold by Simon Conway Morris, handled precisely this topic. In his recent book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins tries to show that the concept of God and religions are a delusion, and even that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other." that is, he proposes that the question of the existence or non-existence of God should be treated scientifically [DAW b, pp. 72, 83, etc.]. On November 2007 I attended in a medical conference a podium discussion having as its title the theme "Science and spirituality", and I became very unsatisfied with what I heard. On the other hand, I received some criticisms on my paper "Is there just matter or also spirit in the universe?", and I noticed that I should clarify some points. With all this, I decided to restructure and deepen some ideas about the title of this paper, and expound them, making some incursions on science, materialism and institutional religions or confessions, complementing the ideas of the mentioned paper. I will write about the unfortunate abyss which exists between science and religion, which could be eliminated with changes in both, with what I am going to call "scientific spirituality". In order to characterize such a spirituality, which involves working hypotheses and not faith, I characterize these two concepts in section 2, showing their differences. In section 3 I advance what I think is a correct cognitive attitude, which I call "scientific attitude". In section 4 I characterize what I understand under "materialism", showing that there are two types of it; I show that this worldview (Weltanschaaung), if coherent, cannot admit various human characteristics, especially free will. In section 5 I cover spirituality, of which I also characterize two types; one of them, the "scientific spirituality" mentioned above, uses a "scientific attitude" for cognition. Adopting such a worldview, it is possible to admit human characteristics which do not make sense from a materialist view, e.g. freedom. Section 6 shows that there are worldviews which combine materialist and spiritual views. Modern science is examined in section 7, showing that it is essentially materialist. In section 8 I describe certain characteristics of institutional religions, characterizing the type of spiritual view they embrace, and stating that, from certain points of view, they are materialist. The current abyss between science and religion is described in section 9, where I show how it could be eliminated by modifying both. I also state that this abyss is due to both prejudiced materialism as well as from the type of spirituality typical of institutional religions. In section 10 I expound various reasons for someone feeling inclined to adopt the materialist view, and in section 11 I do the same for scientific spirituality. Finally, in section 12 I describe an example of a scientific spirituality which I consider adequate for the modern human being, showing briefly certain of its characteristics and applications.
This paper is a translation of the original in Portuguese, "Ciência, religião e espiritualidade".
2. Hypothesis and faith
Over time, humans gradually developed intellectual capacities. One of the consequences of this fact is that today every adult human being longs for understanding. For example, when observing phenomena everybody tries to conceptually understand why they happen. Also, accepting social laws and rules without understanding the reason for their existence does not satisfy her/him anymore. (For the sake of conciseness, from now on I will use the masculines "he" instead of "s/he", "his" instead of "his/her" and so on.) The same happens when he is presented with theories without their making sense to him, or without being logically coherent and corresponding to what he may observe outside and inside himself. It seems to me that each modern person should have a conscious conception of the world, a worldview; from it, he should orient his thinking, feelings and actions. In terms of conceptions of the world, it is important to separate what is a working hypothesis and what is faith; let us begin by examining the characteristics of each one, pointing out their differences.
2.1 A hypothesis is a statement which is taken as truth, or has been proved to be true in some theory or experiment, and is used as a basis for explaining some experimental evidence or for extending that theory. A theory may involve many hypotheses and their consequences; thus it is wider than a hypothesis. A fundamental characteristic of a theory is its logical coherence, that is, there should be no contradictions among its hypotheses and the statements resulting from them.
Therefore, a hypothesis is the basis for some conceptual understanding, that is, for the correct mental association between a correct perception and a correct concept, or between correct concepts which are interrelated. Note the use of the word "correct" – I admit that there exist correct and incorrect perceptions, concepts and associations. For example, if the reader looks at the entrance of his room, and if his visual system is healthy, probably he will initially have a correct perception of light impulses; then he will make a correct mental representation of the viewed object and, finally, will make, with his thinking, a correct association of this representation with the concept "door". Generally, one says that a door is "seen", but in fact what is seen are light impulses; "door" is a concept, an idea, and cannot be seen with our eyes. A counter-example could be seeing a person at some distance, and not being able to distinguish if it is a man or a woman. In this case, probably there is an error or imprecision in the perception, and this fact may become conscious through the difficulty in associating to the corresponding blurred mental representation one of various possible concepts. Another counter-example is seeing the Sun moving during the day through the sky, and making to this correct perception an association with the incorrect concept of its movement around the Earth, instead of associating this perception to the correct concept that the Sun stays still and the Earth is revolving around its axis.
Faith is a statement taken as truth, and is the basis for a worldview which may not involve, partially or totally, a conceptual understanding. Faith does not depend on experimental evidences. On the contrary, it closes the doors to understanding and research.
2.2 A hypothesis should be clearly formulated through concepts, and be based upon evidences, either through observations or through coherent and extensive theories derived from them. Furthermore, it should be always subject to revision.
Faith does not have to be clearly formulated, because it is not directed to the intellect; it is accepted as truth, and has a character of permanence, that is, it is not subjected to revisions.
2.3 A hypothesis should have a character of objectivity and universality. Thus, it should not be based upon feelings, because the latter are always subjective and individual.
On the contrary, faith may involve concepts (because it is impossible to express something through words without using concepts), but should essentially be based upon feelings, that is, it should be essentially subjective: one has the feeling that some belief is true.
2.4 A working hypothesis should always be part of some research of facts, or of a theory being established or already established.
On the other hand, faith is something terminal, self-contained. It may be part of a wider worldview, but it should not necessarily lead to some research, on the contrary, many times faith impairs the latter. Richard Dawkins criticizes religions saying: "One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding." [DAW b, p. 152; see also pp. 154, 159-60.]
In this text I am going to use the expression "to believe" as an exclusive synonym to "to have faith", in the expounded sense. As an example, in the Catholic doctrine, one should believe in God and should not believe in the reincarnation of the human being (in spite of some clear references about it in the New Testament). Note that there is no clear concept of what God is, either in that religion as in other religions. Therefore, in the sense of the characterization 2.2, one should not refer to a "hypothesis of the existence of God", expression used by Dawkins [DAW b, p. 138].
Another example of faith is taking the images of the Genesis as literal facts, considering for instance that the "creation days" had 24 hours, as taken by many biblical creationists. A working hypothesis could be that those images are symbols to facts that really occurred. Through this example one may see that a hypothesis should necessarily lead to a research: in this case, what are the realities represented by those biblical images. On the other hand, the mentioned faith does not lead to any investigation or search for understanding.
Using the same example, it is a fact that many people consider biblical images as invented stories, tales. There are then two possibilities: taking it as faith or working hypothesis. In the second case, one tries to justify this consideration speculating through some theory, for example, that ancient human beings had childish fears, and those tales helped them to face those fears. Another possibility is that humans had a need of locating themselves in relation to the past, so that they invented a ghostly cosmogony, as they didn’t have at that time the possibility of inventing a conceptual theory such as the Big Bang. As a matter of fact, this is also a ghostly theory: how did matter and energy appeared before they condensed and exploded? Even admitting a series of expansions and contractions, this series must have had a physical beginning.
3. Scientific attitude
Scientific attitude is one of the greatest conquests of humanity. After the beginning of the 15th century it began to effectively develop as everybody’s possible attitude. Before this time, it partially appeared in a few individuals. It should be applied whenever something is observed and described, and when concepts are formulated. In these cognitive activities, it seems to me that it is the correct attitude for modern human beings. This means that a person who does not adopt a scientific attitude in his cognitive day-to-day life is unduly returning to the past. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that this attitude does not apply to the whole of human life, because cognition is just part of it, as will be expounded after listing its fundamental characteristics.
In cognition, a scientific attitude is adopted when the following requisites are satisfied:
3.1 Having working hypotheses, and not faith, cf. section 2 above.
3.2 Permanent curiosity is exercised, that is, one should be always trying to know new things and ideas. If a phenomenon is observed and not understood, it should be observed from all possible angles, and it should be studied in order to be understood. If an idea is not understood, or looks strange, one should make an effort to learn it and understand it.
This attitude means that one should have an interest for all phenomena and theories.
A counter-example to this attitude is the fact that very few people know how airplanes fly, albeit seeing them quite frequently. Understanding this phenomenon, due to a property of fluids discovered in 1738 by Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782), is a relatively simple matter: it may be demonstrated very easily by blowing over a sheet of light paper stretched with the hands and maintained with its top touching the inferior lip, and observe that the sheet goes up.
I have been stating for a long time that the absence of this constant curiosity may produce an undesirable effect: the development of a mental paralysis. According to Plato, in Menon, Socrates goes even further, saying: "Some things I have said that I am not altogether confident. But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know; – that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power." [PLA a, p. 183.]
3.3 One tries to objectively observe the world, that is, observations should concentrate on the phenomenon; no observed aspect should be disregarded and no observation should depend on previous hypotheses.
This action is characterized by the observer exercising a total openness both to inner and outer phenomena in relation to him.
3.4 One should try to understand the world objectively and conceptually, specially living beings and humans.
3.5 Feelings are not used as a basis for observations and in formulating concepts about observed objects or studied theories.
This requisite is a consequence of 3.3 and 3.4, and is due to the fact that feelings are purely subjective. In fact, every person has his own feelings and another person cannot feel the feelings of the former; what the latter may do is to recognize them, for instance perceiving that the first person is happy or sad. But it is impossible to the latter to feel the happiness or sadness being felt by the former.
An example of an undue use of feelings in the acquisition of knowledge is using one’s sympathy or antipathy for somebody to reach conclusions about the latter. It is interesting to note that, when somebody has a feeling regarding something, it tells much more about the former than about that object. For instance, an antipathy towards somebody may be the result of his face suggesting the face of another person, who did something nasty to the observer. Another example could be observing and studying some phenomenon or object due to a strong sympathy towards them, and avoiding studying others which arise antipathy.
Notice the use of the word "basis" in the formulation of this attitude. Exercising a scientific attitude does not mean ignoring feelings, but they should not be used both for orienting curiosity and research, and for stating concepts about some phenomena. Feelings should be made conscious and taken into consideration whenever making some judgment, because it is impossible to have a total knowledge about something real (total knowledge exists only in Mathematics, in well-defined areas; there are well-formulated mathematical problems which do not have a solution). For example, if there are two coherent but conflicting theories about the same subject, and there are no evidences of which better adapts itself to reality, one may use a feeling of sympathy towards one of them to temporarily adopt it; but one should have full consciousness about this reason for having chosen one of them.
On the other hand, there may be essential feelings involved in scientific activities, as for instance the enthusiasm for discovering new facts and for obtaining more knowledge. Certain feelings should also be used when choosing what research should be done and in making the results public. For instance, a moral filter may hinder a veterinary of sacrificing animals in his research, or a biologist of using human stem cells extracted from human embryos, if it is necessary to kill them. If a new discovery may represent an ecological or human danger, maybe the researcher, based upon his feelings, may decide not to make them public (this reminds the excellent theater play by F. Dürrenmat, Die Physiker, "The Physicists", written in 1962, and considered his best play [DÜR]; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Physiker]).
3.6 The description of phenomena and the formulation of concepts and theories should be directed exclusively to the understanding of the reader and should be universal.
This requisite is a consequence of the previous one. A counter-example would be transmitting concepts enthusiastically, trying to influence the feelings of the receptor in order to convince the latter of the arguments’ validity. I expect the readers of my papers and books to notice that I try to direct myself exclusively to the understanding of the reader, and not to his feelings.
3.7 One should have absolutely no prejudices, in any knowledge area, that is, one should be always ready to verify any fact or phenomenon, or to study any theory.
For instance, if one says "The twin towers in New York have been hit by two commercial airplanes" a scientific attitude could be "This looks extremely strange, but I will investigate." A non-scientific attitude could be "This is highly improbable, so I will not give it any attention."
Another example is Newton’s theory of colors [NEW]. He clearly has started from the preconceived idea that "white light" is composed of all the colors of the rainbow, and arranged his experiments to prove his theory of differential refrangibility. That’s why he used a particular aperture (hole) in his window, and a certain distance from his prism to the screen, thus creating a beam of sunlight whose dispersion produced the colors of the rainbow: "[…] at a round hole, about one third Part of an Inch broad made in the Shut of a Window (sic) [...]" [NEW, p. 26 (Prop. II, Theor. II, Exper. 3).] If the beam had been very thin, or the screen placed at a greater distance, only three colors would have appeared (red, green and violet). On the other hand, if the aperture would have been much larger, or the screen placed close to the prism, a white part would have appeared in place of the green. The latter, as one may clearly observe by gradually increasing the distance to the screen, results in the superposition of the yellow and blue parts of the resulting colors. I recommend to the reader personally observing these phenomena: for this, just take two pieces of black paper, setting them over a white paper. The white strip thus formed should be looked through a prism with its axis parallel to this strip (the easiest way is to point an angle of the prism downwards and view through it with an eye close to it). To modify the width of the strip, one of the black papers should be moved towards or apart from the other black paper. One should take advantage of this setting to repeat the experiment with two white papers over a black paper, forming a black strip. The "complementary spectrum", according to Goethe’s theory of colors, will be seen. Goethe, in his theory of colors, makes it a point not to start with Newton’s preconceived idea, criticizing it [GOE, Vol. 3, p. 48: Der Newtonsche Optik – erstes Buch, erster Teil (Newton’s Optics – vol. 1, part 1), Props. 86-93, see also ZAJ, p. 209, SEP, p. 142]. It is interesting here to cite the physicist Tolger Holtsmark: "Newton thought that he explained the existence of the spectrum by means of a physical model of the light, whereas he in fact used an image of the spectrum to explain one possible physical model of the light." [HOL T, p. 1235, my emphasis.]
This requisite complements the one examined in 3.3.
3.8 The adopted conceptual worldview should be coherent and, if logically conflicting points are known, one tries to investigate them to solve the conflicts.
3.9 There should be a permanent interest in opinions contrary to one’s own, specially if well-based.
Contrary opinions may help to change working hypotheses (cf. 3.1); they should be used at least to test one’s own hypotheses and theories and, eventually, collect more arguments in favor of the latter.
3.10 Observation of phenomena and their conceptual description should always be made in full awaken consciousness; the observer should permanently maintain his self-consciousness and his individuality.
Counter-examples to this requisite are the use of dream images as they would have been concepts, and psychic communications, that is, those made through mediums. In the fist case, dream images, instead of being taken literally, may inspire some concepts, such as the well-known experience by F.A. Kekulé, who in 1865 had a dram of a snake biting its own tail, inspiring him to discover the form of the benzene ring of carbon atoms. In the second case, there are two possibilities: the medium is unconscious or is conscious during his observations or communications. The first situation goes directly against the requisite being discussed here. An example of the second case is psychic writing (many books with them are quite popular in Brazil): the medium who does it is not expressing his own individuality, because he transmits knowledge that he does not have, and in general uses a writing style which is not his; everything happens as his own personality having been replaced during this activity.
Only by preserving this requisite one may guarantee that there are no errors in one’s own observations and description of phenomena and concepts. Goethe, who is unfortunately not recognized as a great scientist, in spite of his scientific contributions and his introduction of an effective scientific method, declared once that "The senses do not deceive, our judgment does" ("Die Sinne trügen nicht, das Urteil trügt" [in Maximen und Reflexionen, No. 527]). When the observer is conscious while doing his observations, he may recognize that his senses are not sufficiently accurate, or the apparatus used to make the observations has some limitations, or even recognizing that there are eventually different judgments that can be made from a particular observation.
When an attitude is the contrary to any of the above requisites, I will call it "anti-scientific attitude".
It is very important to recognize that the scientific attitude characterized here does not embody the whole of human activities, because they are not just of the cognitive type. In fact, there are at least other two: artistic and social attitudes. I am going to write just briefly about them, because their subjects are not the purpose of this paper.
In both these attitudes, feelings acquire fundamental importance, contrary to requisite 3.5. Furthermore, in both of them the individual, subjective aspect is absolutely essential. In fact, an artist should necessarily put in his work something about his particular way of expressing something objective or subjective, contrary to the scientific attitude, which should lead to something universal and be expressed universally. In other words, an object of art is something objective and universal, and what it expresses may also be universal, but the manner in which this expressions manifests itself should have some subjective element stemming from the artist’s individuality and depending on the individuality of the observer (for more details, see my paper "The computer as an instrument of counter-art"). For example, a painter may represent hunger or fear in a certain way, another painter in another way (quite characteristic of expressionistic paintings). It is interesting to note that every work of art should necessarily touch the feelings of the observer, that is, his subjectiveness is an essential part of the observation process; the contrary happens with a work of science. A work that is just an outcome of objective conceptualization, and the means of expression is universal, independent of the observer’s interpretation, is not a work of art, but of science. Science has as its primary goal the formulation of concepts for the understanding of the universe; on the other hand, arts' primary goal of is the production of objects to be observed through the senses. Along this line, it is interesting to observe that architecture is the most objective art, and poetry the most subjective.
Social attitude also differs from scientific attitude, because the former involves necessarily actions on individuals and their subjectivity. If individuals could be treated objectively, economists would always have success in their theories and practices. One of the most important social attitudes is compassion, that is, the capacity of suffering when perceiving the suffering of another person. By no means it is derived from a scientific attitude. Daniel Goleman’s "emotional intelligence" [GOL], of fundamental social importance, even in professional activities, is not a scientific attitude, but a social one.
I characterize materialism as a worldview which admits just the existence of physical phenomena in the universe. According to it, the world is constituted just of physical matter and energy, and the phenomena which happen to them have physical causes only.
There is no complete knowledge of what matter is. Nevertheless, we have an intuitive notion of it, because we are confronted with it through our senses. We also have an intuitive notion of what energy is, because any physical action we perform requires a certain effort exercised for some time, called "work" in Physics.
There are two types of materialism. I call the first one scientific materialism, characterized by the adoption of the world view mentioned at the beginning of this section in a strictly scientific attitude, cf. section 3. I call the second type faith materialism, which is the faith in that worldview. Thus it does not follow a scientific attitude, specially characteristics 3.1 (as it involves faith), 3.2 (in the sense that such a materialist does not have a curiosity about the existence of non-physical phenomena) and 3.7 (in the sense that there is a preconceived idea that there are just physical phenomena in the universe).
The most typical difference between them is that a scientific materialist should be open and have interest in non-materialist views of the world. He should be ready to review his position if he becomes convinced that there are also non-physical phenomena. On the other hand, a faith materialist takes his view as dogma, and is not open to views of the world which admit the existence of non-physical phenomena. Typically, he not only does not try to know these types of views, but even avoids entering in touch with any view that is not materialist.
For example, a faith materialist says: "It is obvious that our thinking is generated by our brain, how could it be different?" or "It is obvious that Darwinian evolution is a reality, how could it be different?" On the other hand a scientific materialist would say: "According to my conception of the world, thinking is generated by the brain, but as there is no complete physical knowledge about this process, I am open to other explanations, independently of what concepts and experiences they employ. Maybe they can present evidences or a coherent and wide theoretical framework, and then I will change my fundamental hypotheses." The same for Darwinian evolution. In other words, a scientific materialist takes these two concepts as theories (as they really are), and not realities, as it frequently the case with faith materialists.
I called the first type "scientific" for a simple reason: a scientist, by necessarily adopting a scientific attitude as expounded in section 3, should not have prejudices and should have a total openness to everything. One of the most frequent attitudes of faith materialists is having a total prejudice against any explanations that are not based upon purely physical phenomena, which they also call "natural phenomena". It is quite common for them to refuse to study any theory which involves non-physical (or supernatural) processes, and to examine evidences thereof. It is also quite typical for them to ridicule any theory or worldview which uses non-physical phenomena in its explanations, as were the cases of Freud, Bertrand Russel and, more recently, Richard Dawkins [DAW b, pp. 51, 59, 85, 135, etc.].
Obviously, there exist variations of faith materialism: a materialist may adopt a scientific attitude towards certain phenomena, and a faith attitude towards others. On the other hand, there is only one type of scientific materialism, for if a person adopts it, he should have no faith whatsoever.
It is very important to consider the following: what characterizes a person as a materialist, of any type, is the way he thinks. Someone may frequently refer to God (independently how he understands or does not understand this word), but if his way of thinking is materialist, that is, he looks for and uses just physical causes for all phenomena, applied only to physical entities, he should be classified as a materialist.
Many people – maybe all – who say they are "atheists" are in fact materialists, in general of the faith type. This denomination of "atheist" has many problems. American Heritage brings the definition "One that disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods." That it, it starts from "God" or "gods". Therefore, an atheist should initially explain what is God or what are gods, in order to say that he does not believe or denies their existence. If he says that he believes that tomorrow is not going to rain, he has as starting point the supposition that there is a correct understanding of "tomorrow" and "to rain". But what does he understand under God or gods? The atheist would have to precisely characterize these entities, and their actions, in order to be able to discuss their existence or lack of existence. Note that it is possible to clearly describe something physically impossible, such as a castle which floats in the air. Furthermore, those entities are obviously non-physical. Nevertheless, any materialist denies the existence of non-physical "objects" or entities, and the processes involving them; thus, how is he going to characterize something non-physical, so that we may discuss it with him? I will return to the problem of the concept of God in section 8, in relation to the monotheism of various religions.
Dawkins calls himself an atheist, a denomination that pervades his whole book [DAW b]. But he is more than a person who does not believe in God, whatever this is: his reasoning is absolutely materialist, that is, he cannot assume the existence of any non-physical process. So, in fact, he is a materialist.
Many people call themselves "skeptical", when, in reality, they are materialists. American Heritage says about it: "1. One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions. 2. One inclined to skepticism in religious matters." I wonder if a skeptic is skeptical of his own existence (which is obviously naïvely accepted by everybody who knows him), because in this case he would at least be a bit schizophrenic, if not having even more serious psychological disorders. I have the impression that a person declares to be a skeptic to indicate that he does not believe in anything non-physical; in this case, my denomination of "materialist" characterizes much better this person. By the way, the expression "believe" classifies such a person as a faith materialist, according to my characterization at the end of section 2.
Many skeptic people are faith materialists. One of these seems to be Michael Shermer, who writes the permanent section Skeptic of Scientific American, and is the editor of Skeptic – see http://www.skeptic.com. On this web site, in the section About us – Discover Skepticism one reads: "Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena." Thus, all non-natural, that is, non-physical phenomena are excluded, and seriously examining them or theories based upon them is refused. Therefore, for Shermer science is a faith materialism, because it only admits material explanations and is closed to non-physical ones.
The positivism of Auguste Comte (1785-1857) is based on physical experience (inheritance of empiricists such as Hume and Berkeley) and denied any metaphysics (besides Logics and Mathematics, classified as "formal pure sciences"). Thus, he was a materialist.
It seems to me that my "materialist" denomination characterizes much better a person than classifying him as atheist, skeptic or positivist.
For the sequel, it is fundamental to recognize that a coherent materialism should: a) limit human individuality just to heredity and the past influence of the environment; b) deny the existence of free-will; c) deny individual and collective responsibility; d) deny the existence of moral attitudes and actions; e) deny the possibility of an action being due to unselfish love; f) deny that the universe and human life have a sense. I am going to briefly justify these assertions.
a) The question of individuality is trivial: if every human is made just of matter, there can be no other component in his individuality than that due to heredity and to his environment.
b) I consider free will, or the freedom to consciously perform inner actions (such as thinking) or outer actions (doing something to the external world with one’s hands or feet, moving or speaking), as the possibility of a person executing an action without any inner or outer imposition. Outer imposition is clear: forcing someone, physically or emotionally, to execute some action. An example of the second case is forcing someone to do some action by instilling fear that if this action is not done, something bad will occur with that person, his family or friends; another example is conditioning a person through advertising to do some action, such as buying or eating something. An inner imposition occurs, for instance, when someone acts following a feeling, such as not speaking to somebody who, at first glance, looks antipathetic.
An action is executed in freedom if there are other possible actions to be taken at that moment, and the choice of the first one is done in full consciousness, mentally examining what would be the consequences of the execution of each action. This does not exclude the execution of an action based upon some feeling, as the case of a person who is following a diet to lose weight but, in a hot day, consciously decides to break the diet and to savor a good ice cream.
Materialism has to necessarily deny free will, because freedom cannot result from matter: this is always subjected to physical "laws" and conditions. There are two possibilities here. There may be some determinism, that is, given the state of a body and certain conditions in its environment, it will always undergo the same transformation. A famous example of a person with a fully deterministic view of nature was Einstein, following the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza (see, for instance, the excellent [ISA, pp. 102, 335] and also [JAM, pp. 37, 69-71]).
The other possibility is the existence of randomness or chance, that is, given certain initial conditions, matter behaves in various possible manners, without a cause for taking any of the variants. Chance is the basis of Quantum Mechanics, which has a great experimental success, but which has transformed the atomic world in something incomprehensible. If a human being acts randomly, he does not act in freedom, because the action has not resulted from a conscious act.
An old reasoning may help to better clarify the point that freedom cannot result from matter. Obviously an atom cannot have freedom. Thus, a molecule formed by a group of atoms also cannot have freedom. A cell, formed by a group of molecules, idem. A group of cells, forming an organ, ibidem. Finally, a group of organs forming a human being also cannot have freedom. This is one of the reasons why scientists and coherent materialists deny the possibility of free will, which they consider to be an illusion. Einstein was absolutely categorical about this; in his words: "I am a determinist. I don’t believe in free-will." [ISA, p. 397]; "I absolutely don’t believe in free-will in the philosophical sense. Every person acts not only under the pressure of external compulsions, but also according to internal needs." [p. 140]; "Human beings, in their thoughts, feelings and actions, are not free, but are imprisoned by causality, in the same way as stars in their movements." [p. 401.] As for the illusion of free-will, he said: "I am compelled to act as free-will would exist because, if I want to live in a civilized society, I have to act in a responsible way." [p. 403.]
c) It is obvious that, without freedom, there is no personal or collective responsibility. Einstein denied its existence, because he thought that every human action is a consequence of his state and the state of the environment: "I know that, philosophically, a killer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to drink tea with him." [p. 403.] By the way, he was not coherent in this and other philosophical questions, because, after getting to know the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis in concentration and extermination camps, he assigned responsibility for this not only on them, but on the whole of the German people: "Germans, as a whole nation, are responsible for these mass killings and should be punished as a whole nation." [ISA, p. 514, JAM, p. 71.] As a matter of fact, it is quite seldom to find a really coherent materialist, because most of them cherish at least intellectual freedom; furthermore, the concept of freedom has been deeply ingrained in humanity since the 19th century. It is possible that these people’s unconscious is wiser than their conscious; due to the former, they may have an intuition that the human being may have free will, and do not perceive that this contradicts their materialist worldview.
d) Without responsibility, there is no moral. In this sense, it is necessary to clearly distinguish "moral" from "ethics". The latter refers to norms established by a group, in general a professional one. For example, it is ethical for a lawyer to defend and try to convince other people (e.g. a jury) that some person is innocent, albeit being convinced that this person really killed someone; but this is not a moral act. In this case, a moral action could be for this lawyer to publicly recognize the guilt of the accused, but objectively show to the jury eventual attenuating factors.
e) An act is a consequence of exercising unselfish or altruistic love if it is of benefit to something or someone, is executed in full consciousness and freedom, and does not bring any benefit to the person who does it. Therefore, altruistic love also also makes no sense from a materialistic point of view. From it, only egotistical actions, and those moved by greed make sense. About this, it is worth noting that the theory of Darwinian evolution is based upon egotism: the fight for existence by individuals or species, without taking care of what happens to other individuals or species. I am aware that Darwin had already formulated a speculative theory trying to explain altruism: an altruistic person is better accepted by his community and thus has a greater chance of surviving and leaving offspring. It is really strange that unselfishness derives from egotism! Richard Dawkins has expressed very well the materialist point of view: in his speculation, egotism is inherent to humans, and is in their own genes, as if the latter could have consciousness [DAW a]. From modern materialistic science one cannot get to altruism.
It is interesting to note hat many scientists are idealists, and have great satisfaction in their research activities because they feel that they may thus unselfishly help humanity. Albeit this attitude is quite positive, it should be recognized that it is incoherent from their part as materialists (which is the case of the majority of them, if not almost all of them), because unselfishness cannot derive from matter.
f) From matter there can result no sense for the existence of the universe and human life, because they are outcomes of chance phenomena. For example, in Darwinian natural selection the best fit predominates, but it has this characteristic by chance, due to random genetic mutations (according to neo-Darwinism), random combination of genes from the parents, and random encounters with other individuals, where it may predominate. Curiously, Dawkins repeatedly writes that natural selection eliminates chance [DAW b, pp. 141, 145]. In the human case, a materialistic view has to necessarily admit that birth and death are chance happenings. Thus, from a point of view of this concept human life has no meaning: it simply exists, therefore, e.g., Sartre’s existentialism. The development of the universe, of the solar system, of Earth, the appearance of life and the evolution of living beings are all basically due to chance. Thus, the whole universe has no sense, no meaning.
Many convinced materialists have difficulty understanding what life having a sense could possibly mean. This is perfectly understandable, because from matter and physical forces it is impossible to reach such a sense.
We are in the age of materialism. A person who is a materialist is totally in tune with humanity’s present way of being. In fact, one may regard the history of humanity as the "fall" into matter and materialism. In this sense, the wonderful biblical image of the Paradise [Gen 2:8] represents an initial period in which humans had no knowledge and self-awareness: they still had not "eaten" from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" [2:17], and still could not recognize that they were "nude" [3:7]. Their "expulsion from Paradise" may be considered as a symbol for that fall. (As a matter of fact, in this sense the expressions "Temptation" and "Original Sin" do not make sense, because it is only possible to "sin" if it is possible to make a conscious choice, and this requires self-consciousness and knowledge; note that animals do not "sin".) It was necessary for humanity to pass through this "fall", because it is only due to our immersion in matter and acting upon it that we may make mistakes and therefore be free: if we would be unconscious, or there was only Good, we could not choose and therefore we would not be free. Our self-awareness and higher self (as will be characterized in the next section) were also developed due to this "fall" into matter. Nonetheless, we are in an age where this phase of materialism has to be overcome, but without losing everything that has been conquered in terms of scientific attitude, consciousness, knowledge, freedom and individuality. Let us see the way I think is the adequate one.
I characterize spirituality as a worldview which admits, besides physical matter and energy, and physical phenomena, both a non-physical "substantiality" as non-physical phenomena which involve this "substantiality". Furthermore, an essential part of spirituality is the hypothesis that non-physical phenomena may influence physical matter. In this section I will briefly expound my theory of how this may occur in certain phenomena of living beings and in humans.
There are two facts that do not make physical sense, and could be taken as a strong indication that spirituality may make some sense: the origin of physical matter and energy, and the limits of the universe.
Analogously to materialism, there are two types of spirituality. I call the first one scientific spirituality, characterized by the adoption of the world view mentioned at the beginning of this section in a strictly scientific attitude, cf. section 3. I call the second type faith spirituality, which is the faith in that worldview, therefore it does not follow a scientific attitude.
I will call "spiritualist" someone who adopts spirituality in the sense given above. It should not be mixed with a common understanding of this word as meaning someone who believes in communicating with the dead.
It may sound strange that a spiritualist can exercise a strictly scientific attitude as characterized in section 3. Examining what was expounded in that section, it may be recognized that the requisites for this attitude by no means restrict the phenomena of the universe just to physical ones.
Analogously to materialism, there is just one type of scientific spirituality, but there are many types of faith spirituality. In the latter case, a scientific attitude is adopted in relation to certain phenomena, and a belief regarding others.
It is very important to recognize that scientific spirituality, as characterized, is a proper superset of the materialistic view, that is, a scientific spiritualist admits all physical scientific facts, but admits something more, of non-physical nature. Thus, this spirituality is an extension of scientific materialism. It is important to stress the expression "scientific facts". In fact, a spiritualist is not obliged to accept materialistic judgments, as for instance the presumption that thinking is originated in the brain and Darwinian evolution, because these are not scientific facts: they are scientific speculations. Another example is the presumption that the Earth was formed about 6 billion years ago; this time is not a scientific fact: it is the result of a calculation which represents a very rough extrapolation (of radioactive decay). The calculation may be correct, but it should simply be called "extrapolation of the radioactive decay" and not "the age of the Earth", because this is a judgment. This extrapolation, as well as others based upon other phenomena, start from the supposition that physical constants have always been the same, and do not depend, for instance, on totally different physical conditions than the present ones. By the way, to avoid misconceptions, I state here that I am not an adept of what is called "Young Earth Creationism", which says that the Earth is about 6,000 years old.
A faith spiritualist may deny some scientific facts, because he may have the prejudice of not studying or verifying them. Some scientific facts may even contradict his faith because, as such, they are not subjected to revision; otherwise they would be on the way to become working hypotheses.
Faith spirituality may be also called "mysticism". In general, mystics do not try to understand non-physical phenomena; for them, feelings inspired by the latter are sufficient, as well as an intuition that they exist.
In section 8 I will show that many followers of institutional religions are in fact materialists.
It is of fundamental importance to separate physical from non-physical phenomena. Any explanation of the latter in physical terms, as for instance paranormal phenomena (e.g. telepathy) as being caused by "waves" of some unknown physical energy, is materialism and not spirituality. Note that "waves" are mechanical phenomena (as for instance those caused in a lake when a stone is thrown into it, or those caused by sounds propagating through air); their application in non-mechanical phenomena is problematic even from a physical point of view. For example, any wave has to propagate in some physical medium. What is the medium where electromagnetic waves propagate? Even worse, what is the propagation medium of Quantum Mechanic’s probability waves, as probability is a purely mathematical concept, without physical consistency?
Dawkins demonstrates that the God of institutional religions cannot be the designer of the whole universe (as supposed by those religions), because he should also have a designer. Furthermore, God, as a designer, should be more complex and improbable than complex and thus improbable living beings [DAW b, 188]. Here one sees a clear example of mixing physical with non-physical concepts. Clearly, those religions take God as a non-physical entity. But designing and constructing physical entities, such as living beings, is acting upon the physical world in accordance with its conditions and laws; speaking about the improbability of a living being having attained a high complexity is also a view which applies to that world. But speculating about the necessity of a non-physical entity having a designer is applying the reasoning based upon the physical world to a non-physical entity. Speculating about a non-physical entity being more improbable than something physical is again applying upon a non-physical entity a reasoning based on the physical world. Curiously, Dawkins relates that in a recent conference on science and religion, representatives of institutional religions could not reasonably argue against his two objections [p. 187]. From my point of view, this is absolutely clear: institutional religions also mix physical with non-physical concepts (apart from not having a clear concept of what God is).
Going back to great problems of Physics, they may be an indication that at the atomic level, and also at the cosmic level of stars, galaxies and nebulae, one is at the frontier between the physical and non-physical realms. For instance, it is not possible to understand with a reasoning based upon our experience of matter, that is, upon our senses, the non-locality of Quantum Mechanics, in which there is an apparent instantaneous influence between "entangled" atomic or sub-atomic "particles", independently of the distance between them [GRE, p. 83]. The same applies to the "spin" of "particles", which does not correspond to our notion of rotation [p. 104]. On the other hand, the relativistic notion of time and space, in which they depend on speed, does not correspond to our perception that time is absolute, as in Newtonian Mechanics. Moreover, the time of Physics models is reversible [p. 145], that is, for these models there is no distinction between past and future [p. 156]. This goes against our experience: nobody has seen a spilled milk going spontaneously back to the bottle. Furthermore, we have a precise notion of the "now", which also does not make sense in Physics [p. 141]. Other big problems in science are "dark energy", which could be responsible for the repulsion resulting in the expansion of the universe, forming ¾ of its contents [CON, p.25] (but does not affect "small" distances such as those of our galaxy), and "dark matter", which may consist of 85% of all matter in the universe [p. 27]; nobody knows what they are.
As I showed in section 4, free will does not make sense from a materialistic point of view. But it makes all sense from the view of scientific spirituality. I am going to justify this assertion using my theory on how the non-physical realm may act upon the physical, leading to human freedom. I will be brief, because I expounded this theory in detail in my paper "Is there just matter or also spirit in the universe?". Suppose that, associated to each living being, there exists a unique non-physical "member". Suppose further that in living beings there are many physical non-deterministic phenomena. One example is the fact that from a single gene various different proteins may be formed [HOL C, p. 78]. In his excellent book, Jeffrey Smith says: "The old theory of genetics asserted that each gene is coded to produce one single protein. On this basis, biologists predicted that there would be about 100,000 genes in human DNA, to account for the various proteins. When the number of human genes was reported in June 26, 2000 as 30,000, it exploded the myth of one-gene, one-protein. In reality, the vast majority of genes can encode for more than one protein; some can produce several." [SMI J, p. 117.] My theory is that the choice of which protein should be formed from a certain gene does not require energy. Thus, one of the ways of a living being’s non-physical "member" acting upon its physical matter is precisely in this choice. In my paper mentioned above, I showed that there is apparently a non-determinism in a cell maintaining its state, or starting to subdivide (mitosis and meiosis) or to die (apoptosis). The choice of one of theses paths does not require energy, so here one may again have the action of a non-physical member working as a (mental!) model for the growth and regeneration of living tissues. This is a possibility for explaining certain morphological phenomena of living beings, which are a mystery from a purely physical point of view, such as the symmetry of a person’s ears, the symmetries of some extraordinary colored designs in butterflies’ wings (see in that paper my pictures showing examples of these symmetries), etc. Besides a gene being able to give origin to different proteins, and cells changing their state, there are other non-deterministic transitions in any living being, where the choice of what transition will be taken, not requiring energy, may have the influence of something non-physical uniquely associated to that being. An example of this maybe what combination of parent’s genes is made in the formation of an egg. Another one is the fact that if a neuron is in a certain state, with the same input impulses sometimes it fires, sometimes it doesn’t; this means that its firing may be non-deterministic. Then our non-physical thinking may act upon neurons, producing their activity (see more on this on my cited paper). Notice here possible physical consequences of assuming the existence of non-physical members of living beings; compare this hypotheses of scientific spirituality with the totally abstract concept of the God of institutional religions, which cannot explain how s/he acts.
In this schema, human free will comes from the conscious action of a non-physical individual member, which is part of each person, and which I call "higher self", choosing one of various non-deterministic actions. For example, suppose that a person is at the corner of a rectangular block, and needs to walk to the diagonally opposed corner in the same block. He may follow one of two possible ways: beginning at the left or the right sidewalk. Suppose that there is nothing that gives him some preference for one or the other way (as could have been the case if one of them has less traffic, or has a nicer view). If under these conditions he makes a conscious choice, that is, thinking on the two possible ways and then deciding which one he is going to take (instead of doing it instinctively), and then following his decision, he would be acting in freedom. An instinctive action may be in this example taking the way he is used to take everyday: this would not be a free action. Note that there could be preference conditions for one of the ways, as already mentioned: even then, a conscious choice may be an act of freedom because, for example, the person may take a certain way precisely because he recognizes a preference for the other one. But if there is a preference for one of the ways, which is taken because of this preference, this choice is not made in freedom. Whenever one follows a feeling or an unconscious impulse, one does not act in freedom.
Obviously, a materialist will say that the person who is at the corner has the illusion of being free to choose one of the two ways. It is important to know that the former cannot prove this fact, so it is perfectly possible to make the hypothesis that the choice was a free one. In my paper mentioned above I give purely mental exercises showing oneself that it is possible to fully control one’s thinking, at least for some moments. This permits every person to mentally observe that he has the possibility of choosing in freedom his next thought, giving him personal evidences that free will may exist.
In conscious decisions, the non-physical "member", which I called "higher self", may take a mental decision in freedom, making the person to act in freedom. An accurate observation shows that animals always act by instinct or by conditioning: in the sense expounded here, they cannot be free. Therefore, one may conclude that they do not posses this non-physical "higher self" member (obviously, neither plants nor minerals have it). A consequence of this fact is that, from this spiritualist point of view, humans are not animals. Materialism cannot reach this conclusion, and it is natural that it calls humans "rational animals" (a curious fact: why, analogously, animals are not called "movable plants"?). As a matter of fact, a child cannot have freedom: his "higher self" does not yet impregnate his physical body enough to manifest itself consciously through thinking; his physical body has not been sufficiently elaborated to permit this impregnation.
An interesting hypothesis is that this higher self has no sex (which is a characteristic of the physical body and of vital functions, as well as of the soul, as for instance characterized by Jung), neither race (that is, it is independent of heredity), nor nationality. Its development, and constantly increasing manifestation along history, could be the reason for the present impulses to consider both sexes with equal mental capacities, for anti-racism and universalism (anti-nationalism). These impulses, which I conjecture cannot be explained through natural selection, are clearly modern ones and are becoming more and more intense. One of is beautiful manifestations is the respect to the human essence, independently of what a person is from an outer point of view. It seems to me that this is the cause for the relatively recent movements of protecting and giving some advantages to the physically handicapped and to old people. In Brazil, old people have the right of paying half the price of tickets for theater, movies, concerts, etc.; in some cities, public transportation is free for them; in queues they have the right of stepping ahead of other people; banks have to have special cashiers for them, and so on. In both old and handicapped people, this higher self is of the same nature as of all humans; it exists, but cannot fully manifest itself. In other words, what really matters in a human being is his non-physical essence. In a small child, this higher self exists too, but it also cannot fully manifest itself, because this depends on the development of the physical body, vital functions and also the maturation of capacities of perception, feeling, thinking, being conscious, etc. Note how in modern times there also appeared a deep respect for children – to the point of laws having been instituted forbidding that they be physically punished (something which was considered quite natural in the past). There is an intuition that each child brings with himself certain characteristics and certain capacities which should be respected. According to the concepts presented here, they are due to this higher self, which is unique for each human being, and has to progress during the latter's life.
Many religions are used to speak about God – as we have seen, without characterizing this entity and without clearly showing how s/he acts. What I called "higher self", being a unique non-physical member of each human being, could be considered the truly divine element that everyone has in himself. I have the impression that many people, when saying "My God!" are unconsciously referring to this unique divinity which exists inside them. After all, God is universal, how could s/he be personal and belong to anybody? Dawkins asks the question of how God "is a being capable of […] talking to a million people simultaneously […]" [DAW b, p. 185] – again, a mixture of physical and non-physical concepts,; nevertheless, it shows the universal aspect of the God of institutional religions (albeit acting upon each individual). On the other hand, the higher self is individual, that is, it really belongs to everyone. Admitting by hypothesis the existence of this higher individuality, the spirit becomes something which acts, and not a mere abstraction as the notion of God has become. This non-physical member may be perceived when, in a meditative state, thinking concentrates upon itself.
In a spiritualist worldview, it makes sense considering that human freedom exists. Therefore, in this view it also makes sense speaking about responsibility, moral and unselfish love which, as we have seen, do not make sense from a strictly materialistic point of view. Thus, only spirituality may lead to a conscious and coherent overcoming of egotism and greed. In fact, I consider altruistic love an essential requisite to the practice of a scientific spirituality: a true spiritualist should dedicate unselfish love to nature and other human beings, because he recognizes that the spirit pervades everything.
At the end of section 4 I mentioned that materialism was a necessity for humanity. Since the end of the 19th century it should be overcome by a special spirituality: precisely scientific spirituality. There is no way out for humanity: materialism and faith spirituality can only continue to lead to the destruction of nature and of humanity; this destruction may be observed by the disasters produced by technology and by religious confessions Regarding the latter, Dawkins describes very well in his book the moral destruction produced by many religioins. Both are serving egotism and ambition; only scientific spirituality may lead humanity to assume the unselfish attitude necessary for changing the way of the present destructions. It is interesting to note that religions go against free will, because they impose ideas and actions (well described by Dawkins); on the other hand, free will makes no sense to materialism and present science.
Unfortunately, I have no hope for the whole of humanity. It seems that there is no possibility of mass reverting the increasing decay of human values, due both to materialism and religion. This decay is shown by the continuous increase in egotism, and greed for money and power, and by the enormous influence exercised upon individuals, limiting their freedom, for instance conditioning them, on one side for consumption and for having certain points of view (e.g. inducing a deep veneration for technology), on the other side to blindly follow literal interpretations of religious images transmitted in various scriptures and myths. But I am sure that these destructive tendencies can and should be reverted individually. It is to individuals that I am writing at this moment.
I am not totally negative or pessimistic: I recognize some highly positive advancements of humanity, such as the movements for human rights and for universal peace, and the ecological movement. But the global final balance seems to me highly negative. I really cannot have hope as far as the masses are concerned – it suffices to consider that about half of humanity is conditioned and bestialized everyday by TV (see my papers on electronic media on my web site).
6. Combinations of materialism and spirituality
Many people adopt a worldview which is a combination of the two views described above, that is, for some phenomena they adopt the materialist view, and for other the spiritualist one. This is the case of many scientists, when they admit that the creation of matter and energy has a non-physical origin. They don’t have the prejudice of admitting only physical processes; nevertheless, they adopt as a working hypothesis or as faith that after that creation the physical world was left to itself, and there have been no more actions of non-physical phenomena, that is, they are deists. Thus, they are spiritualists as far as the origin of the universe is concerned, and are materialists in regard of everything else. One of such cases was Einstein, who admitted that God had created nature’s laws; but, after this creation, s/he does not act anymore, in particular upon human beings. He expressed this fact saying that he was against the idea of a "personal" God, who punishes or rewards each individual: "Every person, who is seriously involved in a scientific work becomes convinced that there is a spirit which manifests itself in the laws of the universe ..." [ISA, p. 398]; "I believe in Spinoza’s God, which reveals himself in the well-ordered harmony of everything that exists, but I don’t believe in a God who deals with humanity’s destiny and actions." [p. 399.] Another case is scientists that devotedly adopt some religion: in their research they are 100% materialists, but are spiritualists while professing their religion (in both cases, of the faith type).
Once I participated in the faculty of Physics at my university of a podium discussion with a renowned Brazilian geneticist, who considers himself to be a devoted Catholic. He publicly declared something like: "During the week, I wear my apron and go to the laboratory; on week-ends I wear my suit and go to the church, what’s wrong with that?" To me, this is a tragedy, because the types of thinking he exercises in those cases and the way he regards the world are totally incompatible. Nonetheless, he is just one single person; apparently, it is as he had double personality. He regards the laboratory world materialistically, and the rest of the world, maybe human and social, spiritually. But where does the laboratory world end and begins this other world? How much the laboratory way of thinking influences common life and vice-versa? To begin with, scientists are human beings, and live in society. Secondly, the choice of what research to do is not a scientific action, because it depends on the impulse of the scientist and the current scientific mode. The latter refers, for example, to preferences for areas considered very important for the acceptance of papers, as well as the possibility of getting research funds. During the many years of the "cold war", to guarantee funds in the USA for any research in Computer Science, it sufficed to embellish it with something having to do with automatic translation. In Brazil, a typical case was the Genome Project ("Onsa"), promoted by the State of São Paulo Research Foundation in 1997; many biology laboratories turned to this area due to the availability of generous funds. As a matter of fact, today there is no good biology laboratory in the world that does not have a machine to do DNA sequencing; a researcher of one of these labs told me that these systems have become as popular and necessary as voltmeters.
On the other hand, many people who declare themselves religious or spiritualists think materialistically, such as those who want to physically prove the existence of non-physical phenomena. When I was a student I knew a young person who practiced mediumship, and later became a professor of biology. He told me at that time that he measured the weight of participants before and after the mediumship session, to verify if their masses had been used as energy to produce the manifestation of the "spirits" during the sessions.
As I said in section 5, I consider it absolutely essential to separate what is physical from what is non-physical. What is non-physical cannot be detected physically, specially through some machinery. This does not mean that it cannot influence the physical world, mainly living beings, as in my theory of making a choice among various non-deterministic possibilities, as briefly outlined in section 5.
7. Modern science
I am going to refer here to science as it is done and made public by almost all scientists.
Modern science is essentially faith materialistic. It suffices to read scientific journals and one sees that explanations and theories are based exclusively on physical processes; for instance, no one formulates the hypothesis that thinking may have a non-physical origin, and neuronal activity may be a consequence and not the cause of thoughts. I am sure that if a paper would explicitly state this hypothesis, it would not be accepted for publication at a recognized scientific journal. On the other hand, journals with popular science in general ridicule any type of spirituality.
It is a fact that the successes of science and technology make people believe them more and more. In 1976 I published a paper (available only in Portuguese), "The computer as an instrument of scientism", where I called the attention to what does it mean having faith in science. It seems to me that with this faith, people lose, for example, the respect for nature (as a matter of fact, "respect" cannot make sense from a strictly materialist sense, because matter has no respect for anything). Thus, the intuition of the correct place where science and technology should be applied is lost, and all sort of exaggerations appear. About this issue, see my paper "The mission of technology".
It is very important to recognize that science and its dear child technology are destroying the world. Global warming is just the most divulged case, but there are many others, such as pollution of foods, of air, of water, the conditioning produced by TV and by video games, etc. In a talk in October 2007 in my city, Jeffrey Smith, the author of the excellent and well documented book Genetic Roulette [SMI J], said that in his opinion genetically modified (GM) organisms were a much greater menace to the environment than global warming and nuclear waste. In his book, he shows and documents with many citations of scientific research, for example, that the insertion of genes disturbs the DNA [p. 63], and the use of bacteria in the gene transposition makes it possible that the genes of GM plants pass to other plants, animals and human beings, thus breaking the genetic barrier between species [p. 127]. The following text shows the disaster that the faith on scientific and technical statements may produce: "When herbicide tolerant (HT) GM crops came to market in 1996, the biotech industry claimed that they would need less herbicide. That was true for the first three years. The repeated use of Roundup [the herbicide from Monsanto], however, caused weeds do develop resistance to the herbicide’s active ingredient glyphosate. […] According to USDA data, the net effect of HT soybeans, cotton and corn in the United States was a 138 million pound (5%) increase in herbicides from 1996-2004. That is accelerating. By 2004, Roundup Ready soybeans received an estimated 86% more herbicide than conventional beans." [p. 147.] I have a strong impression that the way of thinking forced by science, of believing in it, is the reason for the adoption of GM organisms. The terrible collateral effects of their use, which are beginning to appear, such as for instance the transposition of modified genes to other species, are a result of the reductionism of the present scientific method; with it, global aspects, which could show unforeseen results, are not investigated or reached. For example, J. Smith mentions a theory, adopted by biotech industry, that genes are independent; he mentions scientific research showing the contrary. There are groups of genes working together, and the expression of genes depend on an "epigenetic" factor, that is, influences outside of specific genes. "All this new information about genes was not considered when gene insertion technology was developed. A random insertion with its associated mutations and deletions might wreak havoc throughout a network of finely tuned and coordinated genes." [p. 121.] In other words, gene expression is extremely complex: "Biology is so much more complex than technology", accorging to biochemist Robert Mann, of the University of Auckland [p. 120]. Furthermore, commercial GM crops by no means were introduced thinking on the benefit for humanity, but for satisfying greed for profits.
I characterize the science that led to GM organisms, which are producing (probably irreversible) ecological disasters as "bad science". A classical example of bad science was old research which demonstrated that smoking had no deleterious effects to the health of smokers. Another case, a bit older, was that the consequences of radiation produced by the explosion of atomic bombs were not foreseen; this knowledge was the cause for banning such experiments, unfortunately much later than the time when experimenting with them had begun. I have the impression that, if there was more respect towards nature, many disasters produced by scientific discoveries could have been avoided. Unfortunately, as I said at the beginning of this section, respect has to be strange to materialism, because matter exercises no respect.
It is this reductionism of the current scientific method, losing the notion of the whole at all levels, and the lack of respect towards nature stemming from materialism and greed, which has led to the following paradox: in the age of materialism, we are destroying the world’s matter. It is necessary to have something which transcends matter in order to have respect for it, and for unselfish love to be exercised, the opposite to actions motivated by egotism.
In my opinion, one of the worst consequences of materialism, specially of materialistic science, is the view that the human being is a machine, an idea already published in a book by La Méttrie in 1748 (L’Homme-Machine). This is wrong from a linguistic point of view, because "machine" applies to an artifact that was projected and built; but humans were neither projected (by humans) nor built. The correct formulation should be that the human being is a purely physical being. Nevertheless, in this respect I became quite radical in the last times: it seems to me that there is nothing, absolutely nothing purely physical in living beings, since the functioning of cells up to complete organisms, that is, something non-physical is always manifesting itself through them.
The image propagated by scientists, that the human being is a machine, has already impregnated a large part of humanity. The terrible point about this coarse error is that there is no moral intrinsic to machines, as is no moral present in minerals, plants and animals. There may be ethics or moral in the use of a machine, but not intrinsically in itself, in the sense that a machine may exercise responsibility in its actions: who is responsible for its functioning is its user, as well as who has produced it. Thus, the image that the human being is a machine extracts from him his intrinsic moral. The results of this way of thinking will be more and more terrible. For instance, in the same way as it is not immoral to leave a car parked in a garage without gas, maybe in the future it will not be considered immoral leaving a human without food. As a matter of fact, how many hundreds of millions of people, including children, are hunger at this very moment, in spite of the fact that the world produces enough food? (An article by Susan Sheperd in the N.Y. Times of Jan. 30, 2008, mentions that every year 5 million children under 5 die due to lack of food.) Another example is the total lack of sensitivity which criminals all over the world are showing towards their victims: if they are machines, their suffering does not make sense. How much is this due to the materialistic worldview?
For more details on humans not being machines, and in particular about the fact that machines will never have feelings and thoughts in the human sense, see my paper on Artificial Intelligence.
One of the essential characteristics of modern science is its extreme specialization. There is even faith that only specialists may express opinions; one forgets that, when making a judgment, unforeseen factors become involved, because there is no total knowledge about the real world. At most, what specialists should do is to present their data and theories; the decision of using them this or the other way is not a scientific act, that is, the final decision should not be taken by them or be based exclusively upon their data. Due to this extreme specialization, non-specialists have great difficulties in understanding specialists’ language and concepts. There is a tendency of popularly finding that science and technology are too complicated and it is not possible, or it is extremely difficult, to understand their concepts. This decisively contributes to the mental paralysis mentioned in requisite 3.2.
Another essential characteristic of modern science is the obsession of using mathematical models, up to the point of considering that without mathematical expression a theory is not scientific, as sometimes Goethe’s Theory of Colors is considered [SEP, pp. 8, 176]. I have the impression that the use of these models stem from the objectivity they introduce. In fact, they are absolutely universal: everybody sufficiently prepared may understand the Mathematics behind them, and employ them universally for the forecast or confirmation of experimental results. Nevertheless, it is necessary to recognize that mathematical models involve just results of measurements. For example, Newton’s gravitational "law" expresses a numerical relation among measurements of masses of bodies which attract themselves, their distances, a constant (the acceleration of gravity), and the force of attraction. As all mathematical models, these measurements have to be expressed quantitatively. Thus, mathematical models eliminate qualitative aspects – besides not expressing the essence of what they model: Newton’s formula says nothing about the nature of gravitation (a scientific mystery up to now).
It seems to me that it is this obsession for quantification that led to the discovery of DNA which, basically, is a mathematical model, with all limitations of such a model. For example, in reality DNA is not that static helix as one may think it is. A sequence of DNA bases, forming a gene, is not something isolated, because it interacts with other genes. Moreover, DNA without its cell's inner and outer environment produces absolutely nothing, as I showed in my essay "Considerations about the DNA hype", where I mention some exaggerated claims attributed to it, typical of having faith in science.
Science could be expanded by adopting a scientific spiritualist view. One of the consequences would be to make also qualitative science, besides the current quantitative one. Another consequence would be having again a more humane science. Current science is intrinsically inhumane, for example when it requires experimental repeatability: many human experiences are not reproducible. For example, the patient reader of this article will not be exactly the same after having read it: humans incorporate (mostly in their sub- or unconscious) all their experiences. Furthermore, science’s objectivity eliminates subjective aspects of the human being, such as feelings and will impulses.
A small step, but of great impact, could lead to an enlargement of evolution theory: considering that, in evolution, not all mutations and not all natural selections were random, but were directed by the non-physical members of individuals and of species. This could open an enormous field of research, because one could, for instance, consider that evolution had an objective: the physical appearance of humans which, clearly, are its crown. An example of a different reasoning arising from expanding science taking in consideration non-physical processes is the ground for humans staying erect: without this position, humans could not had developed freedom.
8. Institutional religions
Practically all institutional religions are faith spiritualists, because they are based upon faith and dogmas. One of the consequences of faith is the intolerance existing among various religions. It is an outcome of lack of comprehension of each one for the others. But to have understanding, it is necessary to conceptualize what is behind every religion. One should obviously start by clearly separating what was original in a religion, and what became part of it due to traditions and interpretations which have been accumulated along the times.
A typical case, which I mention here because it is quite misunderstood, is the question of universal monotheism. Jewish religion, from where this concept spread to the western world, was not monotheistic in its origin. For example, the First Comammndment says (my translation from the Hebrew Masoretic text): "I am Y’hovah [my transliteration from the Masoretic vocalization, corresponding to the common form Yahveh], your Elohim [a plural; see next paragraph], which took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves. You shall not have other Elohim in front of my face. You shall not make sculpted images and all pictures of [what] is in the skies from above, or [what] is on Earth from below, and what is on water from below the Earth. You shall not bow down to them, not serve them, because I [am] Y’hovah your Elohim, the envious, who visits the iniquity of fathers over sons up to the 3rd and 4th generations of those that hate me, and act with mercy up to the 1,000th generation for those that love me and guard my commandments." [Ex. 20:2-6.] Note that the King James version uses Lord for Y’hovah and God for Elohim. When read without preconceived ideas, this text shows clearly that it is not written that other gods did not exist, but that there was only one, Y’hovah, possibly one of the Elohim, associated to the Jewish people, whom the latter should obey. "Sculpted images" may be representations of physical objects and beings, but also of non-physical beings, which would be the case of divine beings, that is, idols (in the plural; "skies" may mean the spiritual world and "Earth" the material world). It is also interesting to note the reference to the fact that Y’hovah was envious and vindictive. This is clear when one reads, for instance, the invasion of the Hebrews on the Promised Land and observing the bloody cases of flatten soil commanded by him, for example in the case of the town of Jericho [Jos. 6:21]. In fact, the doctrine of unselfish love, of unrestricted kindness, appears only with the Christ, replacing the vindictive "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" [Deut 19:21], and with the introduction of the individual pardon (before then, it was considered that only Y’hovah or the Elohim could pardon). As a matter of fact, it is interesting to note that the Christ did not want to found a new religion, but just to renew Judaism, because the human being had changed since its origin; objectively, the Gospels neither contain codes for behavior, nor the prescription of a cult: they are the reports of the acts of this entity, of his life, an example of attitude and action to be followed for the good of humanity.
Going back to the question of monotheism, the first denomination of what is today translated as God is a plural, "Elohim" [Gen 1:1], and only later Y’hovah shows up [Gen. 2:4]. Just there one has different entities, which tradition interpreted as meaning only one, known by "God" (in the King James version, Lord means God). Instead of pronouncing the "ineffable" name Y’hovah (curiously, there was no problem in speaking "Elohim" and its variants with possessive suffixes; Y’hovah was the special divinity for the Hebrew people), Jewish tradition introduced the word "Adonai", which literally means "my lords", again a plural. I had great suspicions in relation to the pretense Jewish monotheism, when I read the magnificent book by historian Paul Johson, A Hitory of the Jews. He concludes that universal monotheism appeared first with Isaiah [JOH, p. 86]. Therefore, before Isaiah there was what I call "local monotheism" of the Jewish people, meaning that there was only one divinity, Y’hovah, associated to them, and not others, whose existence is not denied. Understanding what monotheism really means and its origin is fundamental for understanding the so-called monotheist religions.
Speaking about God, it is important to recognize that, independently on how this entity is regarded, if s/he is omnipotent, as taken by various religions, then humans could not be free. On the other hand, s/he cannot be omniscient, because, for instance, s/he does not have our eyes to know our physical world as we know it, and has never passed through the human sufferings (such as pain), and much less to experiment death (one should not mix the Christ with God; in the Gospels, the former calls the latter "father"). In my books and papers, I never appeal to God for explaining or justifying anything, because to cover subjects connected to the physical world I don’t need the notion of such an abstract entity; it suffices to refer to the fact that every human being, animal and plant contains something non-physical which is individual (and part of it collective, in the case of plants and animals, hence their lack of the "higher self" and its manifestations), connected to their physical body. Its manifestation is something observable, for example in the difference between minerals and plants, between plants and animals and between animals and humans. One may admit that their different outer forms are just an expression of their "higher" non-physical constituents.
Understanding religions can only be the result of a scientific spirituality. Obviously, religious matters are totally strange to a materialist worldview. On the other hand, it is very difficult for a religion to understand another one, because the former is certainly a faith spirituality. Notice that tolerance is different from understanding; notheless, the latter may lead to the former.
In the same way that faith materialism lead to fanaticisms for science and technology, faith spirituality of all religions lead very easily to religious fanaticism or fundamentalism. In our times it is still possible to see this type of fanaticism, which makes adepts to be led by feelings, specially by hate, to the point of committing homicides, in Judaism, Christianity, Islamism, Hinduism, etc., in a complete undue return to the past which humanity clearly should have left behind. Obviously, there are more humane circles in those religions, but this happen when they modernize themselves. Unfortunately, they don’t reach full modernization, which would be their evolution to scientific spirituality.
It seems to me that religions have, in general, become a form or materialism. Max Weber has pointed to the connection of the protestant ethics and the craving for financial enrichment, which is typically egotistical and materialist. In Brazil we have various live examples of evangelic sects which, clearly, are religious only in their appearance or for naïve people. It is very common that fundamentalist adepts of many religions do not respect human life – exactly the contrary to what should be expected if religions would be truly spiritual; let us recall that respect cannot arise from matter subjected only to physical processes. Another example is mediumship (very popular in Latin countries, where it is called "spiritism"), which tries to force the material manifestation of non-physical entities, instead of elevating each human being to the level of consciously observing the non-physical world. Another manifestation of materialism in many religions is the manner with which theologians interpret biblical texts, as they would be purely physical; this includes biblical creationism mentioned in section 2, and which will be covered in more detail in the next section.
Richard Dawkins, in his recent book, argues against institutional religions and their belief in God [DAW b]; I agree with many of his arguments. But one sees very clearly that, being a materialist, he cannot understand them. It is very important to recognize that his arguments against religions and God do not apply to scientific spirituality.
9. The abyss between science and religion
Today it is very common to consider that there is an insurmountable abyss between science and religion, to the point of saying that the areas covered by each one are totally distinct. This means that science has nothing to say about religion, and the latter has nothing to say about scientific facts (one should not mix these facts with the ethics in scientific research). There are even many scientists which separate them so much, that they even consider themselves religious, as I mentioned in section 6.
There are two reasons for the existence of such an abyss. The first one is a deep prejudice from faith materialists, who ignore and many times ridicule any spirituality, refusing to take it into consideration. The second is the dogmatism of faith spirituality, in particular institutional religions, due to their lack of search for understanding phenomena, in an anti-scientific attitude; this produces, with lots of reason, a negative reaction from materialists. It is interesting to note that each one of them feels menaced by the other. Thus, one of my theses is that the abyss is due both to science and religion, and should not exist.
A typical example of this gulf is the situation provoked, in the materialist side, by the adepts of Darwinian evolution. On the side of many faith spiritualities, including many religions, by biblical creationism. They don’t understand each other, because their defenders do not adopt a scientific attitude. If this had been the case, evolutionists would be humbler and would get interested in possible spiritualist explanations for many of the problems presented by the theory of evolution, such as the fact that human beings have their vertebral column with a double S (inexistent in animals), have no fur or feathers and having developed speech and thinking. On these two last subjects, in an interesting paper Ian Tattersal says: "[…] we cannot attribute the advent of modern cognitive capacities simply to the culmination of a slow trend in brain improvement over time. Something happened other than a final physical buffing-up of the cognitive mechanism." [TAT, p. 44.] In particular, the appearance of language is a big evolutionary mystery: "[…] we have to conclude that the appearance of language and its anatomical correlates was not driven by natural selection, however beneficial these innovations may appear in hindsight to have been." [p. 49.] See also the excellent paper by Craig Holdredge, "The giraffe’s short neck", which shows some problems of the Darwinian theory, especially referring to the popular (and scientific) faith that the giraffe’s neck has grown so that it may reach higher leaves (to begin with, Holdredge mentions that female giraffes are shorter than males; I add (with purposeful exaggeration): if the goal was to reach higher leaves, giraffes should have evolved into monkeys... By the way, Holdredge apparently fits perfectly my concept of "scientific spiritualist".
A personal observation concerning a class of problems of Darwinian evolution: in the city of Campos do Jordão, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, where I am writing this paper, I observed and classified a dozen different species of hummingbirds. Certainly one of them must have evolutionary advantages over the others; why hasn’t it dominated and made the other species disappear? More specifically, there are two quite distinct species: a gray hummingbird with a curved beak, and long white tail, Phaethornis eurynome, and another one, smaller, all green with a white neck, with a white speck behind the eye, straight beak and short tail, Leucochloris albicollis. How come one of these species has not adapted better to the environment, and the other has not disappeared? (I have observed both licking the same flowers.) Obviously, evolutionists will come with speculations like: "There must have been a recent migration by at least one of the two, and there has been not enough time for it to suffer mutations and get to the form of the other species", or any other similar abstract speculation, which I consider unsatisfactory.
Speaking about mutations, it is evident that it is not a single mutation that gives origin to another species: there must be an enormous amount of them, correctly paralleled or chained for the changes to be gradual and harmonic along the whole body; imagine a species of a goat gradually stretching its neck to reach higher leaves; feet, trunk, vertebrae, etc. would have to follow with their own mutations. It is really necessary to have a very simplistic mind to believe in an explanation like this... Dawkins writes that many living beings are highly improbable (the fantastic designs and colors of male peacocks’ tails occurs to me...), but natural selection explains that each small step in their evolution has a much greater probability [DAW b, p. 147]. But he does not mention that many mutations had to occur simultaneously to make some transformations feasible, and this is again highly improbable.
On the other hand, biblical creationists insist in dogmatically attributing to a divine being, which they call God, but do not characterize with clarity, a practically simultaneous creation ex-nihilo of all living beings, without showing how some action by a non-physical "being" may influence the physical world. Even if they could show it, they would have to indicate how plants, animals and human beings could have adapted to the appearance of other species and drastic changes in the environment in such a short period of time. This obviously cannot be accepted by someone who adopts a scientific attitude.
This abyss has resulted in certain conflicts in relation to education, mainly in the USA, with obligations and obstructions to the teaching of one or other view.
A scientific spiritualist view could solve both problems. In terms of evolution, it would suffice to suppose that not all mutations were random, and not every action of natural selection was natural. In other words, there may exist non-physical processes influencing some of them. They do not have to be due to a single non-physical entity (who is generally called God). One may suppose that each living being has non-physical members interacting with its physical body as, for instance, the model which gives and preserves its organic forms and is responsible for the regeneration of its tissues and organs, maintaining its form always similar to the original one. (On form, see the interesting paper by Steve Talbott, "Can the new science of evo-devo explain the form of organisms?"; see also my paper "Is there just matter or also spirit in the universe?", where I put emphasis on the question of symmetric forms in living beings, showing that non-physical members may be acting to build and keep those forms.) Animal species may also have something non-physical influencing every species member, a reason for animals not having the same degree of individuality as human beings, who presently are not subjected to this collective member. In section 5 I briefly outlined my theory on how non-physical members of living beings may act upon their physical bodies (using non-deterministic transitions).
As for education, the solution is so simple that it is astounding that it is not perceived. Biblical creationism is based upon images, parables, as was already expounded in section 2. It happens that images full of fantasy are exactly what small children (up to age 9) need and appreciate – that’s why they like so much fairy tales and stories. Children do not look for conceptual explanations, which they do not understand. Thus, biblical creationism is precisely what should be taught them up to that age. On the other hand, young people at high school age (15 years old and above), have already developed their abstraction capacity to the point of looking for conceptual explanations, having no interest in stories with images to explain phenomena and are not satisfied with them. It is an absurdity to teach the Genesis images at high school; there, Darwinian evolution should be introduced, but as a theory, with its many problems, as for instance those mentioned above – and not as truth. Natural or artificial selection (e.g. in selecting crops or animals with some desirable characteristics) is obviously a driving force in evolution, having serious consequences, as for instance the appearance of bacteria strains resistant to antibiotics, a big problem in hospitals. Students should learn about these questions.
One should not ignore the importance of Darwinian evolution ideas to the development of humanity, and this should also be taught at high school: it decisively contributed to the elimination of the power of religious faith, which goes against the modern tendency of looking for understanding and formulation of clear concepts. Nevertheless, one of its fundamental consequences was to spread and impose a materialistic view of the universe. But the time has come to make evolution independent of the latter, so that we may enlarge our understanding of the world.
One of the most famous Phrases by Einstein is the following: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" [ISA, p. 401; JAM, pp. 14, 76, 116; see also www.quotationspage.com/quote/24949.html]. But the way science and religions are today, it is impossible to have the fusion he desired. But, if both would change their paradigms, the following phrase would make sense: "Science without scientific spirituality is lame, religion without scientific spirituality is blind." Being lame, science cannot reach where it should go, that is, conceptualizing much of what remains obscure; being blind, religion simply cannot look deeply into nature and into the human being, and how he nowadays strives for explanations and rejects faith and dogmas. If both evolved to adopt scientific spirituality, there could be no more an abyss separating them.
10. Why adopt materialism?
10.1 The conquests of science and technology. In section 7 I covered science’s success, which has brought many contributions for improving humanity’s conditions. Examples in the area of health are hygienic measures, recommendations for a more healthy nourishment and for practicing physical exercises (the three great factors for the increase in longevity), as well as the admirable advancements in diagnostic and surgery techniques (the electronics and mechanics inside medicine). Telecommunications produced deep social changes, which unfortunately has fed a much appreciated apathy. On the other hand, the ever increasing complexity of machines has made them incomprehensible, and has mystified them. For example, the whole functioning of a car was understandable, until electronic ignition and computers were inserted into them; nowadays, their functioning is in many aspects a great mystery – even for mechanics and electricians, which have to change parts without knowing how they work. All these advances and this whole mystery has made people develop a great admiration for science and technology, and produced a belief in them, to the point where the majority of people probably thinks that every new machine is beneficial. Thus, there is less and less consciousness of the problems caused by technology. This is the ground for the appearance of books criticizing it; the readers that are not fully conscious of the problems caused by the Internet when used by children and adolescents should read the excellent book by Gregory S. Smith, How to Protect your children on the Internet [SMI G]; I gave a very strong recommendation for its translation and publishing in Brazil, and wrote a review of it (unfortunately in Portuguese).
The consequence of all this is that people are led (or are convinced by scientists) to adopt the same worldview as current science; as we saw in section 7, this view is materialism.
10.2 Science’s coherence and extent. In spite of its contradictions (as for instance the duality wave-particle at the atomic and even molecular level), science gives a reasonably coherent view of the physical world. Laymen are not aware of the great problems of science, as for instance those described in section 5 above.
Science’s extension and apparent coherence, as well as its successes convince people that its subjacent worldview is correct. Someone who blindly trusts science and technology should adopt materialism.
10.3 The power of sensorial perception. Our senses, especially vision, have become so precise, that people tend to "believe only in what they see". As our senses only perceive the physical world, this is the only one that apparently exists.
10.4 Capacity for abstraction. Since the beginning of the 15th century, humanity’s capacity for intellectual abstraction has increased enormously. A historical example is the adoption of the heliocentric system: Copernicus (1473-1543) established this system in an absurd way (preserving Ptolemy’s epicycles, that is, planets circling around nothing), just to calculate eclipses and conjunctions with greater easiness – a pure abstract reason! Galileo (1564-1642) was put aside in 1633 by the Inquisition because he did not have a satisfactorily heliocentric theory – he simply thought that, as Jupiter’s satellites apparently circled around it, not everything circled around the Earth. Only in 1687, with Newton (1642-1727) there appeared a theory of gravitation, which could abstractly explain the reason for the elliptic orbits around the Sun discovered by Kepler (1571-1630), who initially refused to accept his own theory; from then on, there were no more doubts – observe the capacity for abstraction which signified the popular adoption of a theory without experimental proof. This proof appeared only in 1851 with Foucault’s (1818-1868) pendulum, practically 300 years after the publication of Copernicus’ seminal treatise, De Revolutionibys Orbium Coelestium Libri VI, whose proofs he revised in this death bed.
As scientific explanations are nowadays all abstract, in general involving mathematical models, this capacity for abstraction forced people to separate themselves from reality, and adopt a scientific worldview which, as I expounded in section 7, is materialist.
10.5 Fear. Many scientists and materialists have a fear of becoming mystics or of starting to think as in older times, if they embrace a spiritualist view. Perhaps materialists’ deepest fear is losing their rationalism and falling into obscurantism. These fears are fully justified, due to the mysticism involved in religious thinking and practices, and in various forms of faith spiritualism, as well as the irrationality, lack of logics and common sense quite frequent among them.
10.6 Simplistic mind. Science’s mechanistic explanations for many phenomena tend to be simplistic, therefore very attractive. This is clearly the case with the neo-Darwinist evolution theory, making evolution a consequence of only two simple causes: genetic mutations and natural selection. Many times, highly complex systems are presented to the public as being very simple. Examples are the notion that the heart is a pump which pushes the blood around the body, Rutherford’s planetary model of the atom (which most of mankind adopts as truth), the origin of lightning being the difference in electric potential between clouds or between them and the soil, and the cause for tides being simply the gravitational attraction of Moon and Sun on the seas (see 11.6 for details).
10.7 The hypothesis or faith in chance. The existence of chance, that is, of random processes, is one of the pillars of science. Who is satisfied with it, should feel attracted to materialism.
10.8 The character of institutional religions. As I have mentioned, in general institutional religions do not correspond to the present human constitution, which looks for understanding and not faith. Moreover, they hinder freedom by imposing on their adepts dogmatic rules for thinking and acting, when nowadays these rules should be established by everyone, based upon understanding of nature and the human being. Examples of these impositions are the celibacy of catholic priests and the fact that only men can exercise priesthood and have its privileges; standard, impersonal garments, many times inadequate to local climates, as those of orthodox Jews (by the way, why do many of them use in tropical climates the caftan, a black overcoat used in East European countries, and quite practical there in cold weather, and not a white gown and turban, as it was probably the case in original Judaism in old Canaan?); the apparent elimination of individuality of certain far East sects, etc. Recently, the Pope asked Catholics to continue with evangelization, which obviously does not respect cultures called "pagan". Many people attend a religious cult and understand almost nothing of what goes on there. As a matter of fact, the impression one has is that officiants just repeat old practices that may have had a deep meaning in antiquity, but whose contents are not understood anymore. The hierarchical structure and authoritarianism prevalent in almost all religions also goes against the modern way of being: everyone likes to be treated as a responsible adult and to take part indecisions. Also, the influence religions have in education (see section 9 above), science, politics and economics are not regarded as a healthy one by cultured people. Dawkins argues extensively against many unreasonable ideas and practices of religions who believe in God; I agree with many of his observations [DAW b].
All this makes many people have a true antipathy, a repulsion, towards everything that deals with religion, thus frequently falling into the other extreme, materialism. In other words, I am assigning part of the cause for the recent increase in materialism to the way religions are nowadays.
10.9 The tragic history of many religions. The longing for individual freedom and peace, as well as the recognition of human rights are some of the modern characteristics of humanity. The tragic history of many religions may make people think that any spirituality can lead to the same barbarism exercised in the past, and which still occurs locally at present. Examples of such barbarism were, in the case of the Catholic Church, the truly anti-Christian massacres it has produced, such as against heretic sects (Manichaeans, Cathars, Bogomils), the crusades (by the way, based upon a typical materialist view, looking for the sacred, that is, the non-physical, in something material, the soil), the Inquisition (the persecution of "witches", Jews and Marranos, the destruction of the Templars, etc.); in the case of Islam, the human horrors that its fundamentalism has been producing, with an apparent total lack of rationality and lack of compassion; religious conflicts in Ireland and Asia; etc.
10.10 Disrespect towards nature. A person who does not have a deep sensitivity to admire and respect nature should adopt materialism. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that the introduction of genetically modified organisms, a victory of materialist science, is precisely an outcome of this disrespect, as I mentioned in section 7.
10.11 Life has no sense. Who feels that life has no sense, and tries to be a coherent person, should adopt materialism, because from matter no sense for life can arise (see 11.9 for more details).
10.12 Lack of knowledge. Many people adopt materialism because they ignore that there exist other satisfactory alternatives. In the next sections I will give indications that hopefully will bring for some people some light into this question.
11. Why adopt scientific spirituality?
In this section, I will abbreviate "materialistic worldview" by MW and "scientific spirituality worldview" by SSW. Let us see why someone could be inclined to adopt the latter.
11.1 MW is unsatisfactory. In section 2 I mentioned the problem of the origin of matter and energy. in section 9 I expounded some additional problems concerning science. Science is the basis for the MW; just because of this the latter should be also considered unsatisfactory. But there are other problems, not covered by science.
For instance, the notion of freedom is one of the greatest conquests of humanity. Nowadays, slavery seems an aberration – which was not the case in antiquity: for example, Plato’s Republic was based on slaves (see, for instance, its books V and VI) [PLA b]; Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888 – Darwin got shocked seeing it there in 1832; up to abolition, many people in that country did not feel that it was inhumane. Furthermore, it is a fact that every person may observe his own thinking and notice that he may freely determine his next thought, at least for some moments, as I mentioned in section 5. This self-determination leads to the personal observation that there may exist free will in thinking, and this may be a strong indication that non-physical processes may exist in humans because, as it was pointed out in assertion (b) of section 4, from matter no freedom can arise. As I mentioned in section 5, for more details, see my paper "Is there just matter or also spirit in the universe", which includes mental exercises for that personal observation. In this paper I also cover various other reasons to adopt a SSW, such as the fundamental question on the origin of forms of living beings; these forms apparently follow a mental, therefore non-physical model, influencing tissue and organ growth and regeneration (see section 9 above).
Another source for lack of satisfaction with current science and with the materialism upon which it is based, is the hypothesis or faith in chance, as I mentioned in section 10.7. A well-known case occurred in my country: in November 2006 a commercial Boeing plane had an accident with a recent-fabricated Legacy executive airplane, produced by the Brazilian factory Embraer, killing all the commercial plane’s passengers. This accident was a consequence of an absolutely astounding series of so-called "coincidences", for instance the flight history of the second plane, which was flying at wrong altitude and whose pilots had switched off the transponder, so it was not being identified by soil radar and could not automatically detect by radar the commercial plane coming in the other direction. Also, the fact that the vertical tip of the small plane's wing cut the wing of the bigger one as a razor – by just some inches of altitude difference, or some feet in the horizontal distance between the planes, the accident would have not occurred; imagine what these small distances mean in terms of an big region reserved for air traffic.
Putting the cause for something on pure chance, one ends research. Certainly, this may satisfy those that are simple-minded, but not those who want to understand phenomena deeper. In the case of human actions, what is the influence of a person’s unconscious, mainly in relation to the unconscious of other people, leading to important encounters, "catching" a sickness (note the wisdom of natural language – one does not say "this sickness caught me") or suffering accidents, which is normally expressed through the word "destiny"? How can individual freedom exist if there is such a "destiny"? Obviously, these questions totally escape a MW, but may be investigated from a perspective of a SSW, where one may start by doubting the existence of chance (some causes may be non-physical), and use the hypothesis that humans may act with free will.
As a matter of fact, putting the cause for something on God also ends research, as Dawkins points very well [DAW b, pp. 152-160, already mentioned in section 2.4].
11.2 Lack of satisfaction with inhumanity. As it was seen at the end of section 7, MW is inhumane.
11.3 Preserving human beings and nature. The present destruction of the human being and of nature is probably due in great part to the view imposed by MW. As I showed in section 7, from matter responsibility and moral cannot arise; they only make sense in a spiritualist view. In particular, responsibility toward nature can only be a consequence of such a view. Something that seems to be harmless from a materialistic point of view may not be from a wider view encompassing qualitative and non-physical aspects. For example, considering that freedom should be developed and preserved in each human being, a communication medium like TV, which produces a conditioning effect (see various papers on electronic media on my web site), should be avoided. Just to cite one case which corroborates this statement, the MacDonald’s chain spent 510.5 million dollars in 2000 in the USA just on TV advertising [LIN, p. 132]. Such a huge enterprise would not spend this fortune for nothing; it has spent it because it has certainly worked well, conditioning the viewers to buy at their stores, and thus producing great profits.
I am not proposing prohibitions, as for instance banning TV. What I am proposing is to make people conscious of the possibility of adopting a SSW; I am sure that if somebody does it, he would by himself eliminate or drastically restrict the use of TV and other non-necessary and destructive technology such as action video games.
11.4 Respect and veneration towards nature. SSW may lead to respect and veneration towards nature and human life, as well as a moral based upon understanding. From its point of view, one may deduce, for example, that each human being exists to develop himself. This means that we have no right to kill a human being; if he is dangerous to society, one may confine him, but one should give him the opportunity of recognizing his errors and regenerate himself. From a materialist point of view, there should be no problem in killing a human being – he is just matter!
The disrespect for human beings and nature, inherent to a MW (see 10.9) is what makes many people unsatisfied with it. Note that many materialist scientists do not have this disrespect, on the contrary. But here they are again not coherent; the biggest incoherence in this respect occurs when they have some veneration towards nature, because matter can not feel veneration; on the other hand, how is it possible to feel veneration for a chunk of matter without any sense?
It is interesting to observe that many ecological movements do not start from a MW, but from a feeling of admiration for nature’s beauty and wisdom, and some intuition that it must be respected. This is the case, e.g., of the movement to protect whales. I doubt that their utility may be proved (except economically, for Japanese whale killers…), because they are at the end of the food chain. SSW may provide for an understanding of what is non-physical in plants and animals, and how it is essential for humanity.
A very important aspect in this section is recognizing that there is an infinite wisdom in nature – and the biggest physical wisdom is found in the human body. From a MW, this wisdom is the outcome of chance (or just natural selection, for Dawkins [DAW b]). If a person finds this too simplistic, and would like to investigate the deep reasons for this wisdom, he should adopt the SSW. Recognizing the human body’s wisdom one could, for example, formulate the following question: "how should sicknesses be regarded?" As we saw at the end of section 11.1, from a MW, sicknesses are due to chance happenings, thus they obviously do not make sense and should be eliminated. On the other hand, from a SSW one may formulate the hypothesis that some sickness is part of that wisdom, therefore it is not the outcome of chance, but is a necessity. One of the possibilities is that sickness is part of the individual and collective path of development. In this sense, the role of the physician should be radically changed: instead of simply eliminating some sickness from a patient, he should help the latter to adequately overcome it, thus making the personal progress involved in the process. This means using it for a certain inner development; obviously, this should not put the patient’s life in danger.
Speaking about sicknesses, in Brazil we have a typical result of a materialistic view: the addition of iodine to salt, in order to avoid goiter. It is impossible to buy salt without iodine, because it is prohibited by law. Firstly, this means forced medication, against individual freedom. Secondly, it seems that there are already some clues that this iodine is causing health problems, such as hyperthyroidism, as published in Pesquisa FAPESP em 2/2005 [www.revistapesquisa.fapesp.br/?art=2671&bd=1&pg=1&lg=], the journal of the State of São Paulo Research Foundation. Thirdly, if there is lack of iodine intake in some restricted populations, they should be oriented to take it, without forcing every citizen in the country to do it. In the USA, there is a similar case: water fluoridation. In this country, where it is a tradition to drink tap water, 67% of the total population with public water systems get it with fluorides [FAG, p. 60]. There are recent studies showing that the fluoride addition may produce excess of intake of this substance, mainly when food is balanced, and taking into consideration also the use of tooth pastes with fluoride: in 2006 the National Research Council released a report which reached the conclusion that "the Environmental Protection Agency’s current limit for fluoride in drinking water – 4 mg/l – should be lowered because of health risks to both children and adults. […] In adults, the same fluoride level appears to increase the risk of bone fracture and, possibly, of moderate skeletal fluorosis, a painful stiffening of the joints." [p. 59.] "[...] nine of the 12 members of the NRC panel concluded that a lifetime of exposure to drinking water fluoridated at 4 mg/l or higher does indeed raise the risk of fracture." [...] "The even bigger question looming over the fluoride debate is whether these known cellular effects in bones and teeth are clues that fluoride is affecting other organs and triggering other diseases besides fluorosis. The biggest current debate is over osteosarcoma – the most common form of bone cancer and the sixth most prevalent cancer in children." [p. 63]. I am sure that other factors are not being investigated, such a possible stiffening of feelings. In 1983, 145 counties in my state (São Paulo) added fluorides to water. Another public medication in the USA is the addition of vitamin D to milk (its excess is not expelled by the body).
11.5 Research. The SSW widens the fields of research. Evidently, materialism restricts research only to physical phenomena, such as looking only at neurons for the origin of thoughts. SSW may provide for a much wider understanding of the human constitution (see section 12).
I am going to present a simple example of widening the field of research. Here in Brazil, many simple people living in the interior of the country follow a tradition of cutting a long grass to cover rustic roofs at decreasing Moon. They say that this way the dried grass lasts longer, and does not catch worms, insects, etc. Obviously, this makes no sense from the MW; thus, this tradition is simply not scientifically investigated. From the SSW, there may be a non-physical influence of planets, of the Sun and of the Moon, which are not just simple physical bodies. As a matter of fact, this influence was the origin of the old astrology – nowadays just a simple recreation, without the sense it had in its origin, when people still had some perception of the non-physical world. As a matter of fact, this influence on human beings had to diminish, otherwise humans would not have developed freedom.
11.6 Absence of dogmas and beliefs. SSW does not lead to dogmas or faith, and preserves the human individuality. In particular, it eliminates the dogmatism of present science regarding materialism and of religions regarding beliefs and faith.
11.7 Qualitative aspects. SSW may recover concepts about nature’s qualitative character, which do not make sense in terms of present materialistic science – unless when quality is expressed quantitatively, but then it loses its fundamental characteristic.
11.8 Conceptual framework. SSW may lead to a much wider conceptual framework, with practical applications, as will be exemplified in section 12. With it, one may have coherence between the concepts of one’s world view and practical day-to-day life, eliminating the dichotomy mentioned in section 9.
11.9 A sense for human life. People who look for a sense for the universe, the Earth, living beings, history and their own lives cannot be satisfied with a MW because, as was expounded in consequence f of section 4, from matter one cannot reach such a sense. On the contrary, a SSW may perfectly show a sense for all that. In section 12 I will briefly mention what could be a general sense for human life.
11.10 The complexity of the universe and of nature. Who recognizes that the world is extremely complex, beginning with the cosmos, passing through a simple crystal, which has a history of millions of years, and all manifestations of life, up to the utmost in physical complexity which is the human physical body, and is not satisfied with simplistic explanations of nature given by the reductionism of materialist science, should be inclined towards a scientific spiritualism. In section 10.6 I cited various simplistic models and explanations, in which almost the whole of humanity believes. The first one referred to evolution, which must have been of an unimaginable complexity; its reduction just to chance mutations and natural selection unduly simplifies this complexity. The others are simply wrong. In fact, the heart is not a pump which pushes the blood around the body. If it was like that, it should have a fantastic power, to be able to pump a fluid with high viscosity through thousands of kilometers of vases, the greater part of capillary diameter. If I remind correctly, a biologist said once that if it were like that, the heart would have to have the power of a pump pushing water from New York to San Francisco, aditionally irrigating the fields along the way... One of the (partial) theories is that the heart produces a pulse of pressure, detected by arteries, which then contract, that is, the whole body pulses like an orchestra having the heart as its conductor. Rutherford’s planetary model of the atom is completely wrong (and this was noted soon after its formulation): electrons do not revolve around the nucleus, otherwise they would emit electromagnetic energy, as in an irradiating radio antenna, and would fall into the nucleus in a spiral movement (as shown by the last picture in the cited web site), and electrons are not little balls. As for lightning, it is not known why it starts: the difference in electric potential between clouds and between them and the soil is not enough to start the spark – after it is initiated, air ionization makes it sufficiently conductive for the spark to flow. There are theories which try to explain the phenomenon, such as the initial ionization of the air through cosmic rays of very high energy; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning. Finally, tides are just partially due to the gravitational forces of Moon and Sun upon the seas. They are formed by a complex resonance effect produced also by the influence of various other factors, such as sea currents, the form of be ocean basin, etc. As a matter of fact, in the oceans there are the so-called Amphidromic points, locations were there is practically no tide, and that work as centers around which waves of radial tides revolve twice each day (corresponding to the daily tides). These are just some examples of nature’s extreme complexity. In fact, I recommend that one should mistrust any reductionist theory for any natural phenomenon. It seems to me that pseudo-scientific explanations about these phenomena try to give the impression that mechanist models explain everything in the world, when reality is exactly the opposite: they explain relatively little. The objective of this simplism must be to induce materialism.
Why is there a widespread hostility in relation to any SSW? In my opinion, this is due mainly to the arguments introduced in sections 10.5 and 10.12, that is, fear and lack of knowledge. In the next section I will give an example which will permit the reader to eliminate his eventual lack of knowledge, if he will have the courage of deepening himself in the study of the case study to be presented. I am also sure that, with this study, fear will also disappear. I recognize perfectly well that simplifications are necessary to foresee results of experiments, to establish theories and control nature; but it is important to be aware that simplifications cannot fully encompass realities. In particular, every machine is the result of many simplifications. In this sense, one may consider that technology is subnatural.
12. A modern spirituality
In my opinion, a worldview which is adequate to the present human constitution should be a scientific spirituality. Thus, it should be based upon understanding, research, and upon working hypotheses, and not faith. It should absolutely preserve individual freedom and individuality, consciousness and self-consciousness; moreover, it should regard adults as responsible beings, having respect and compassion for nature and human beings. All this should be based on understanding of what the latter and the universe are, and not in moralist dogmas. It should also present a theoretical and wide framework (for instance, leading to the understanding of old religious and mystical traditions, as well as of historical facts). This theoretical framework, its worldview, should lead to practical actions which are the applications of its concepts to the whole of human life, so that each person’s daily life can be as coherent as possible with his worldview.
I know of just one scientific spirituality which fulfills these requisites, and all of those mentioned in section 11: Anthroposophy, introduced by Rudolf Steiner during the first quarter of the 20th century. Precisely for fitting the scientific attitude described in section 3 above, it was called by Steiner, and is frequently called "Spiritual Science" (from Geisteswissenschaft; in German this composite word has also another meaning, "humanities"). I prefer the denomination "scientific spirituality" introduced here, to avoid confusion with what one understands nowadays under "science", and which makes no sense in being "spiritual" because it is inherently materialist. It is interesting to note that Steiner had a technological education, at the Vienna Institute of Technology, and did a doctorate in philosophy. His fundamental work, The Philosophy of Freedom (also translated under the title The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity), a deep analysis of cognition, shows how he is able to formulate clear reasonings, adequate to our times, and expressing concepts directed to his readers’ intellect [STE]. His 28 books, and hundreds of published books with more than 6,000 of his lectures, are of an unmatchable range and depth. Immersing oneself in his works, one has the impression that he was the last true sage man in the world.
Practical applications of Anthroposophy include the still revolutionary and well succeeded Waldorf Education (used in more than 1,000 schools around the world, including South America, Anthroposophical Medicine and Therapies, Biodanimic Farming (in 1970 the president of the American association of organic farmers told me that he considered it the utmost in organic farming), a social organization (called Threefold Social Order), new arts (including Eurythmy), etc.
It would be interesting for the reader to visit some Falculty of Education in his city and ask: "Do you cover Waldorf Education in your curriculum in any of your courses?" After all, it exists since 1919, there are more than 1,000 schools following it around the whole world, there are dozens of published books about it, there are international journals specialized on it, and its results are excellent (see a statistical study of former graduates of the Escola Waldorf Rudolf Steiner of São Paulo, Brazil – unfortunately still in Portuguese, but a new, extended version in English is about to appear on the Internet). It is interesting to note that continuous education (that is, without flunking) was adopted in Brazil in public schools of many states because of a recommendation by UNESCO, which was based upon the worldwide success of Waldorf Education: Waldorf schools have never used tests and grading and no student repeats some class, unless in very exceptional cases (e.g. lack of general maturity), in all levels. The answer to the question proposed at the beginning of this paragraph is in general "no": this education method is not covered in faculties of education around the world; if it is, it happens because of a personal initiative of some professor who had a contact with it. Well, faculties of education should cover all teaching methods, mainly one of them which is based upon an extensive conceptual framework (for instance, about the global development of children and adolescents, involving physical, emotional and intellectual aspects), as well as an extensive practice. In my opinion, faculties of education ignore Waldorf Education because of a very simple reason: it is based on a spiritual worldview and of the human being, Anthroposophy. Furthermore, a visit to a Waldorf School reveals an intensive love for children and youth; having love for the students is precisely something that is not taught in faculties of education. The prejudice of faith materialism against any spirituality, prevalent in practically all academic circles, prevents that students get to know something about this educational reality.
The conceptual framework introduced by Steiner is exceptionally wide, coherent, and leads to the understanding of various phenomena, such as sleep, dreams, life and death (I conjecture that, if it does not abandon its materialist paradigm, science will never deeply understand these four phenomena). For instance, it explains why dreams are presented through images and why they do not follow, in general, the logics of the physical world. Through its concepts, one understands what I have called "higher individuality" in section 5. Based upon it, he presents a totally new concept of reincarnation, which obviously does not make any sense from a materialist point of view, but it may be considered as a logical consequence of a sense for human life. By the way, without some notion of reincarnation it is impossible to understand Buddhism (a materialist would say that there is nothing to be understood in it...). Anthroposophy introduces in an original way the question of good and evil, and many other individual and social questions. As its name implies, "Anthroposophy" starts from a knowledge of the human being, therefore it is humanist by nature.
One of the most fascinating characteristics of Anthroposophy is the view it provides for the prehistorical and historical development of the human being. With it, one understands some essential personalities which are absolutely mysterious from a materialistic point of view, such as Zarathustra, Buddha, Moses, Elijah, Plato, Christ, etc. Myths of various peoples and biblical images cease to be just invented legends, as materialism has perforce to consider. For someone who looks for understanding, it gives immense satisfaction to realize that it is possible to understand, for instance, many images of the Genesis and the Old Testament, the ancient Hebrew people’s great contribution to humanity, the developments which led to the advent of the Christ, as well as solving many apparent contradictions found in the Gospels. For instance, why Markus’ and John’s Gospels begin only at the baptism at the Jordan, contrary to the other two, which begin at the birth of Jesus? Why Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels are totally different until that baptism? Why is John’s so different from the other three, the Synoptic ones? What is behind the symbol of Mary's virginal conception? What does it mean the event that should be the central aspect of Christianity, called Christ’s "resurrection"? How is it possible to understand the messages of the Apocalypse? Why did Christianity become so important during a long time for western civilization?
According to Steiner, the mission of the human being on Earth is the development of unselfish love. As I mentioned in section 5, this love does not make sense from a materialistic point of view. An act of unselfish love can only be accomplished in total freedom, which requires consciousness. For this, it is necessary to acquire knowledge, but the latter should not be regarded as a goal for human development: in fact, it is with knowledge that, for example, bombs are made to destroy human beings. Steiner wrote "For every step that you take in the pursuit of higher knowledge, take three steps in the perfection of your own character." [STE b, p. 48.] But, for him, moral is a consequence of knowing the human constitution and development, and not a question of morality or dogmatism. In this book, Steiner gives meditation exercises for the development of supersensible perception. As a matter of fact, he once said that it is not possible to perform a physical action in complete freedom. Using the example I gave in section 5, of a person standing in a street corner and being able to choose one of two paths, it is a fact that probably this person did not reach the first corner through totally conscious actions done in freedom. Thus, there is a restriction to free actions due the history of the circumstances which make someone finding himself in a certain situation in a given moment. On the other hand, when practicing an Anthroposophical meditation, which uses active thoughts, a person is exercising total freedom: there is nothing that impels him for this practice, and neither the choice of the mental contents of the meditation, if it is correctly chosen.
Anthroposophy has shown that one may deal with the spirit using an scientific spirituality approach, as described in this paper, without mysticism and proselytisms. (When looking at the Internet, one may recognize faithful Anthroposophical writings for their somberness, clear concepts and lack of hostile criticisms of other ideas; obviously, there are detractors that may be easily recognizable by their tone.) It is a pity that scientists and materialists' fear of abandoning their scientific attitude, and their bad experience with religions and mysticisms, force them to having a prejudice against it, e.g. the case I mentioned of Waldorf Educations not being covered in faculties of education.
It is due to the knowledge I have on Anthroposophy that I could formulate the scientific spiritualist concepts expounded in this and other papers. I hope they give incentive to scientific materialists to having the courage and sufficient lack of prejudice to study Anthroposophy. They may begin with works by some of Steiner’s followers, but the study of his basic works is absolutely essential. This way, they will realize that there are other possible views of the world, much more encompassing and humane that materialism or faith spirituality, especially of institutional religions, and which does not require abandoning the scientific attitude expounded in section 3. On the contrary, Anthroposophy gives incentive to that attitude, which is considered the adequate one for modern human beings.
A (*) indicates that the texts cited in this paper, and corresponding pages, were taken from the Brazilian edition, with my translations into English.
[CON] Conselice, C.J. "The Universe’s Invisible Hand". Scientific American 296, 2, Feb. 2007, pp. 24-31.
[DAW a] Dawkins, R. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1976. Portuguese Edition: O Gene Egoísta. Trad. A. P. Oliveira. Lisboa: Gradiva, 1989. (*)
[DAW b] Dawkins, R. The God Delusion. London: Transworld, 2007.
[DÜR] Dürrenmat, F. Die Physiker (The Physicists). Zurich: Diogenes, 1998.
[FAG] Fagin, D. "Second thoughts about Fluoride". Scientific American 298, No. 1, Jan 2008, pp. 58-65.
[GOE] Goethe, J.W. Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors). G. Ott e H.O. Proskauer (eds.). 3 vols. Stuttgart: Verlag Freiesgeitesleben, 1980.
[GOL] Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995. Brazilian edition: Inteligência Emocional: A Teoria Revolucionária que Redefine o que é Ser Inteligente. Transl. M. Santarrita. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Objetiva, 1995. (*)
[GRE] Green, B. The Fabric of the Cosmos. New York: Vintage, 2005.
[HOL C] Holdredge, C. Genetics and the Manipulation of Life: The Forgotten Factor of Context. Hudson: Lindisfarne 1996.
[HOL T] Holtsmark, T. Newton’s Experimentum Crucis Reconsidered, American Journal of Physics, Vol. 38, No. 10, Oct. 1970, pp. 1229-1235.
[ISA] Isaacson, W. Einstein – his Life and Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Brazilian edition: Einstein: Sua Vida, Seu Universo. Transl. C. Nogueira et al. Rio de Janeiro: Cia. das Letras 2007. (*)
[JAM] Jammer, M. Einstein and Religion: physics and theology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. Brazilian edition: Einstein e a Religião: Física e Teologia. Transl. V. Riberiro. Rio de Janeiro: Contraponto Ed., 2000. (*)
[JOH] Johnson, P. A History of the Jews. New York: Harper Perennial, 1988. Brazilian edition: História dos Judeus. Transl. H. Mesquita and J. Volfzon Fo. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1995. (*)
[LIN] Linn, S. Consuming Kids: the Hostile Takeover of Childhood. New York: The Bew Press, 2004. Brazilian edition: Crianças do Consumo: a Infância Roubada. Trad. C. Tognelli. São Paulo: Insituto Alana, 2006. (*)
[PLA a] Plato. Meno, in Plato, The Great Books of the Western World Vol. 7. Transl. J. Harward. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, pp. 174-199. This dialog is available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/meno.html (for the citation, perform a search in the text with e.g. "fight" or "deed").
[PLA b] Plato. The Republic, in Plato, The Great Books of the Western World Vol. 7. Transl. J. Harward. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, pp. 295-441. This dialog is available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html.
[SMI J] Smith, J. Genetic Roulette: the Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Fairfield: Yes! Books, 2007.
[SMI G] Smith, G.S. How to Protect your Children on the Internet: A Road Map for Parents and Teachers. Westport: Praeger, 2007.
[SEP] Sepper, D.L. Goethe contra Newton: Polemics and the project for a new science of color. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.
[STE a] Steiner, R. The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. [original: Die Philosophie der Freiheit, The Philosophy of Freedom]. GA (complete works) 4. West Nyack, NY: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1963. [Contains the book Truth and Knowledge and an introduction by Hugo S. Bergman.] See also www.rsarchive.org/Books/GA004
[STE b] Steiner, R. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment. GA 10. Transl. G. Metaxa. Spring Valley: Anthroposophic Press, 3rd ed. 1947. See full text at http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA010/English/GA010_index.html; the citation in section 12 is from http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA010/English/GA010_c02.html
[TAT] Tattersall, I. "How we came to be human." Scientific American 295, 6, Dec. 2001, pp. 42-49.
[ZAJ] Zajonc, A. Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.