A Note About Skepticism

Balloons fall up?! Mind: blown.

As I was writing my last post, I realized that it sounded like I was treating the quote from Seth Speaks as truth. This quote is from a book, which was transcribed from shorthand, which was written by the husband of the woman who claimed to channel a disembodied consciousness. (Whew!)

There are three types of information available to us: personal experience, knowledge that can be scientifically verified, and knowledge that cannot be scientifically verified. I want my thinking to encompass all three.

I listen to my personal experiences because they feel intuitively true. They are rare. They do not feel like creations solely of my mind. They coincide with other knowledge.

Verifiable knowledge is essential, particularly for those logicians out there who refuse to believe anything else. This is fair. The other types could easily be lies, fabricated for a variety of reasons, even unconscious. Indeed, maybe someone really has seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster; maybe they just made it up, or their mind made it up to satisfy some need. No one can know for sure.

Scientifically unverifiable knowledge is usually the personal experience of someone else. What shall we do with it? I struggle with this question daily. One moment I’m in awe of a book’s teachings; the next it sounds like hogwash conceived to start a lucrative therapy business. What’s one to do? Surely something in the middle.

Despite what an academic might tell you, none of the knowledge gained by science is knowably true. Take for example the Newtonian notion that objects on Earth fall down. You repeat this experiment a thousand times with a thousand different objects and get the same result. By induction, you conclude that this is true. Then someone shows you a helium balloon and your worldview is shattered. You can expand this to just about anything we consider “true” by scientific standards: we could wake up tomorrow to find a green sky, clocks spinning backwards, dogs and cats living together. All science really says is, “Look, really smart, sober people have seen this happen a bunch of times all over the world. It will probably keep happening.”

The more I read about spiritual matters, the more consistent everything is. When you squint to remove cultural bias, the world’s religions all start to look about the same. New-age mysticism has a consistency of its own, and does a reasonable job aligning with older spiritual contexts. So really, maybe we can consider scientifically unverifiable knowledge as a slightly looser version of science’s: “Smart (not necessarily sober) people have seen this happen a bunch of times all over the world. See if it happens to you.”

To save space, I will not preface every post with this. The knowledge I share here is true to someone; maybe it will be for you too.

~ by Grant on August 10, 2012.

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