Everyday Earth: Spirituality in an age of science

Above: Whiffin spit in Sooke is a remarkable place to observe the blending of science and spirituality.

every day earth thing

By contributor Chantelle Spicer

It is a fine line that one must walk to see the natural world through both scientific and spiritual realities. Being enculturated into a western-minded society, it is incredibly difficult to find such a balance without thinking of myself or being labelled as hypocritical. I constantly question the validity of each realm while also deeply believing in both.

It is a widely held understanding that there is an irreconcilable rift between the realms of knowledge and belief. How does this happen in just one mind and how can this rift be repaired? Science, without any hesitation, has a place in our world. Through its lens, we have explored the reaches of space, the depths of our oceans, and seen the world on a beautiful cellular level. Through its methods we have explored the principles of physics which created our universe and rules our terrestrial world, discovered DNA, and learned how plants grow.

It is truly remarkable what science and the human mind can accomplish, resulting in a way of understanding our world that explores and lays bare he processes which are constantly happening around us. It does, however, offer a very limited view of possibilities that can exist in “reality”—ideas heavily based on facts, data, progress, and results. If one cannot provide a source, research, “proof” of existence, it simply cannot be.

At the same time, there are many contradictions which exist in a scientific understanding. Are eggs good for you or not? What is the climate doing exactly? For hundreds of years, humans believed the earth was flat, the centre of the universe, and until very recently, that race existed—all founded in the science of the time.  Science is, like all things, dynamic and incredibly fallible. So why believe in it (some of us to the point of faith) so strongly?

After years of exploring this scientific perspective of the world through the study of natural sciences, I found in myself a great void. Science offers plenty of ways to ask questions, but leaves very little room for what I consider my spiritual imagination. This portion of my mind is fueled by a landscape which is very much alive—a massive living being that I am a part of. This perspective sees beauty abounding, an intrinsically bound relationship between all things, and it creates a deeply rooted respect and appreciation. To see only the scientific framework—only a resource—a pathway to progress would orphan me from my roots as a part of this land and being.

But I love science. Even now, as I write this, I feel the chasm that exists between the science and faith as defined by our culture. I also see the thirst that many experience: the yearning for a deeper connection to moral value than that of science. To reconcile this is to shift the reality that has shaped who I am, and who we are today.

Albert Einstein was able to walk this line with a grace I envy. He recognized the reality that all is one, interconnected, which was the inspiration and the unfolding of his mathematics, stating, “To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.” How is it that Einstein can be so famous, so quoted, his mathematics so revered, and yet this elegant blending of science and spirituality has not penetrated our cultural understanding?

For myself, though it may at times be difficult, I am grateful for this appreciation of both sides of the paradigm. It gives me the opportunity to view our natural world and the experiences on it with a kind of binocular vision. Spirituality and science do not have to be mutually exclusive— why restrict oneself? It actually seems unwise to me to think of the two as separate from one another, leading to, on one hand, a cold, and immoral form of science, or, on the other hand, a general grounding upon which to base a belief system. Neither are able to give a full picture of what it means to exist. Physicist Max Planck said it best, stating “science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and, therefore, part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

Happy thinking!

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