“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
– Carl Sagan –
From your clothes to your medicine, food, house, car, phone, toothpaste, and your laptop; every aspect of life has been, in some way, derived from the use of the scientific method. Contrary to what a majority of the people in our culture think, science is something much greater than merely a body of knowledge. Science is a way of interrogating nature; a way of uncovering its most beloved and deeply held secrets. Science grants an ability to manipulate reality, which has led us, steadfast, into the modern world. However, science alone is not what makes progress. What makes progress, and in essence what drives science, is a curiosity to discover the innumerable facets of reality.
If someone were to ask me what science is, I would simply reply that science is a method. We all learned about this method in grade school, but instead of reinforcing the natural enthusiasm for science in the youth many inadequate teachers have failed thus instilling a kind of stigma around the word ‘science’. Many in our society now think science is difficult, that it is only for the scientists, or that they are too dumb to learn such a heavy topic. Sure, it may be hard to actually do science, due to the rigor required, but there is nothing at all hard about learning what science is or learning what the methodology has discovered about nature. I think everyone needs to go back to their childhood, rethink science, and the scientific method. They would then discover that they had been using it all along.
Let’s go on a trip. A journey through time. Think back to your childhood. Do you remember ever getting in trouble? Perhaps you broke something? Took something apart? Maybe you were getting into a situation where you might hurt yourself? Do you remember asking questions? Don’t lie, we all know you remember these things. You were exercising your curiosity about the world, you were using the scientific method. Anyone who has ever been around a child, let’s say around the age of two or four, has without a doubt heard them asking questions and seen them performing experiments. Kids use the scientific method, they perform observations, formulate a hypothesis, and execute an experiment to test their ideas. This is what usually gets them into trouble or perhaps danger, and I’m sure you have some memories of many such scenarios. What is even more astounding to me is the curiosity that drives this rudimentary scientific inquiry and fuels the endless questions children are notorious for. This is a curiosity I still have today, and I love sharing it with people. I love hearing and answering the questions children put forth, I love seeing them learn, and I love seeing their eyes light up as they discover what stars are, what matter is, or how big the universe is.
This is the wonder of science. Satisfying this curiosity about the natural world, realizing that there is more to learn, and that science can lead you to that knowledge invokes an incredibly powerful sense of the wonder, beauty, and awe of reality. Science may refute claims of a supernatural soul or spirit, but it cannot do the same for the incredible spiritual high one gets from knowing that all of the mysteries out there in the cosmos are still waiting for a solution, and that there will always be more to learn. Science is not spiritual in any supernatural sense, but the soaring emotional response from pondering reality, the universe, and knowing our minute place in it can be nothing short of the spiritual feelings people get from supposed supernatural sources.
So I encourage you all, if you haven’t already, to reconsider any previously held notions of science and satisfy that innate curiosity inside you. You don’t need a god or a supernatural being to be spiritual, all you need is curiosity and nature, which when combined produce the scientific method.
Go fourth and learn!
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