Updated: 8 January 2010
MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online, or recommended by Alex Paterson
The technological triumphs of science over the past 300 years - of which Newtonian Physics is considered the foundation - provided strong support for the concept that the universe was entirely a physical phenomenon associated with the concepts of Philosophical Materialism. 1
Ironically, this is not a position embraced by Newton himself. For him the creation of the Universe was inconceivable without divine intervention of a superior intelligence or Creator. Newton believed God created the universe as a system governed by mechanical laws and once it had been created, it could be studied and understood as such.
"However, whilst Newton's followers kept the image of the universe as a deterministic super machine, they disposed of the notion of an overlighting intelligent creative principle as an unnecessary and embarrassing leftover from the 'irrational' dark ages. Sensory data about material reality ('objective' data) became the only permissible source of information in all branches of science." (Stanislav Grof) 2
The concept that the universe was essentially a 'material' system operating under the laws of Newtonian Mechanics reflected the basic metaphysical assumption of Philosophical Materialism and, because it seemed to describe so well much of what has been observed about the Universe, it came to dominate entirely the thinking in all disciplines of science including biology, medicine, psychology, psychiatry etc. From the perspective of philosophical materialism, 'matter' is the elemental stuff comprising the universe and logically the scientific discipline concerned with the study of 'matter' - namely physics - became the pre-eminent scientific discipline to which all other disciplines were subordinate. 3
"The determined application of this logic ensured that the findings of other disciplines were not allowed to be in conflict with the basic theories of physics, resulting in the systematic suppression or misinterpretation of findings in many fields that could not be brought into consonance with the materialistic worldview." (Stanislav Grof ) 4
As Grof quite rightly states:
"This strategy was a serious violation of the basic principles of science. Strictly speaking, scientific theories apply only to the observations on which they are based and they cannot be automatically extrapolated to other disciplines. Thus for example, theories about the human psyche should be based on observations of psychological processes, not on the theories that physicists have made about the material world. ... The criterion for the validity of scientific findings and concepts in a certain area should be based on the rigour of the scientific method with which they were obtained and not on the compatibility with the theories of another field " (Grof) 5
Exacerbating this situation has been the tendency of many scientists to adhere - without questioning - to outdated theories taught to them by their mentors and peers and then mistake them for being accurate and definitive descriptions of reality.
This distortion of the scientific principle has become so entrenched within contemporary Western Culture - that any new evidence suggesting that the basic paradigm underlying the contemporary scientific understanding of reality may be flawed - is routinely dismissed without proper investigation. No other better example of this sort of behaviour can be found than with Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Thus, despite the lack of any empirical evidence in support of it, and the growing list of seemingly insurmountable technical 'problems' associated with the finer details of the theory, Darwinists continue to argue that the mutation - selection mechanism associated with the theory must have produced the changes required for the evolution of new life forms - not because the mechanism has been observed to work or that there is some irrefutable scientific proof of the same - but rather because their guiding philosophy assures them that in the absence of an overlighting 'Creative Principle', no other means is available to do the job. In other words, the theory must be right because in their eyes, there is no alternative! 6
In a sense the scientific community has forgotten its purpose (raison d'etre) and the underlying ethic pertaining to that purpose.
True scientific procedure calls for keeping an open mind to all phenomena whilst maintaining a questioning attitude at the same time and being prepared to modify or dispose of any theory that no longer accommodates evidence collected in a systematic manner. 7
Today most academics professing to be scientists do not observe this process - but rather display an uncritical adherence to a materialistic philosophy taught them by their peers and superiors and because of this, they tend to ignore or treat as 'unreal' phenomena that do not fit into the orthodox paradigm of reality. 8
This process has resulted in contemporary science becoming ensnared in a very limited view of reality and the nature of the universe. This position is summed up succinctly by Cornell University professor, William Provine, who said:
"... modern science directly implies that the world is organised strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable ..." 9
Now of course, Professor Provine's position is a philosophical one and is not based on any empirical evidence and as such is a breach of the very principles underlying scientific technique. Professor Provine is entitled to hold and express any philosophical position he so chooses, but he is not entitled to imply the philosophical position expressed above is somehow based on scientific methodology because "science it ain't". 10
By defining and adhering to such a proscriptive interpretation of reality, contemporary 'science' is denying itself the opportunity to contribute to an extraordinary new chapter in human understanding as to the nature of reality and who we are.
Professor Provine's inability to distinguish between 'science' and 'philosophy' is very destructive of true scientific endeavour because his views as a senior respected scientist clearly affects the thinking of those who look up to him as their superior. Most scientists, like the general public, acquire the vast majority of their knowledge and values on what they are taught by their peers and mentors, and not on what they personally experience. It is for this reason that Professor Provine's views are so prevalent within the scientific community and why so many aspects of science have become moribund.
So how will Western Science deal with the plethora of 'New Age' phenomena now being discovered? 11
If history is anything to go by, the contemporary scientific community will almost certainly embrace an orthodox position and embark on a concerted campaign of trenchant denial about 'New Age' phenomena. However, this is not such a bad thing, as practically all the major advances in human knowledge and understanding have emanated from the minds of dissenters who have rejected the orthodox position of their contemporaries and postulated what were considered heresies at the time. Presumably, the issues pertaining to the plethora of 'New Age' phenomena now being discovered (and their wider implications) will be treated no differently from any new 'heresy'. As with all matters, eventually the truth will become recognised as "self evident" and future generations will look back at the position of contemporary orthodox science in much the same way we now view our ancestors who fervently believed the earth was flat! 12
NOTE: Article based in part on extracts from:
1. See: PHILOSOPHICAL MATERIALISM by Alex Paterson
2. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p232
3. Even the Oxford dictionary definitions of science, objective, material and physical reflect the pervading bias in support of Philosophical Materialism:
4. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p232
5. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p232 & p235
6. See: A Critique of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Alex Paterson
8. See: PHILOSOPHICAL MATERIALISM by Alex Paterson
9. Source: 'Darwin on Trial' by Phillip Johnson (p126)
10. It is fundamental to a free pluralistic society that any person is free to embrace whatever philosophy he/she so chooses irrespective of how "silly" it might appear to others, so long as those views don't infringe on the rights of others. The health and growth of a society is inextricably bound up with the ability of dissenters to question the orthodox values of the society, for only through such a process can a society experiment with new ideas and grow.
11. New Age: There are many definitions assigned to the phrase 'New Age', but for the purpose of this article 'New Age' is defined as phenomena and concepts that do not fit the materialistic paradigm of contemporary Western society and are therefore considered "unreal". Phenomena that fit this definition include spirituality, a plethora of techniques associated with alternative medicine and spiritual healing, paranormal phenomena in all its forms and view points about reality that do not accord with "philosophical materialism". It also includes a series of scientific experiments involving DNA and consciousness conducted since the 1940s that defy understanding by the conventional scientific community and which have been collated by Gregg Braden (and others) in the late 1990s.
See: Gregg Braden Website
12. The Three Stages of Truth: Historically, the 'truth' about most issues usually goes through three distinct phases known colloquially as "the three stages of truth". During the first stage, the issue goes unnoticed and is ignored; the second stage is characterised by vehement denial; whilst the third stage witnesses the truth being finally recognised as self evident!
Copyright © Alex Paterson 2000
Copyright © Alex Paterson 2000
MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online or recommended by Alex Paterson
Alex PATERSON is an Australian citizen by birth. He writes articles and advises on issues pertaining to aviation, politics, sociology, the environment, sustainable farming, history, computers, natural health therapies and spirituality.
He can be contacted at:
Photograph of Alex Paterson
The document, 'A Critique of Western Science' is the copyright © of the author, Alex Paterson. All rights reserved by the author. Notwithstanding this, the document may be reproduced and disseminated without the express permission of the author so long as reference to the author is made, no alterations are made to the document and no money is charged for it.
Copyright © Alex Paterson 1999
Additional keywords: altered states, belief, beliefs, belief systems, Bohm, consciousness, Christianity, Christian, church, cosmic game, critique, Darwin, Darwins theory, doctrine, dogma, Einstein, Erbe, esoteric, God, Gods game, Grof, holotropic, Jesus, near death experience, nazarene, NDE, newton, newtonian, observer effect, oneness, paradigm, paradox, paradoxes, philosophical materialism, physics, quantum, relativity, reality, reincarnation, religion, religion versus spirituality, Sai Baba, science, scientific procedure, spiritual, spirituality, soul, theology, universe, western science, Yeshua
RETURN TO THE BEGINNING