Consciousness… Week 08

a Moment for Wisdom…



A Moment for…



These new justifications are termed “scientific”. But by the term “scientific” is understood just what was formerly understood by the term “religious”: just as formerly everything called “religious” was held to be unquestionable simply because it was called religious, so now all that is called “scientific” is held to be unquestionable.

Leo Tolstoy




Personal Wisdom:


What are the conditions whereby you believe something that is told to you?  What are the characteristics of the teller that make him/her believable?


What are the conditions whereby you would not believe something that is told to you? What are the characteristics of the teller that make him/her not believable?


Societal Wisdom:





a Moment with Sharif…




In the past, men in brown robes and shaved heads were considered infallible.  They were not. Now, its men (and some women) in white lab coats and stethoscopes.  They are not.


I have a good friend who successfully dealt with a bout with breast cancer.  Her challenge: dealing with the cancer cells in her body, while also dealing with the medical establishment, trying to tell her that they know more than her own highly tuned intuition.  To her credit: she successfully battled BOTH invasive forces!


Don’t get me wrong: I think that our scientists can provide a valuable service, to our human family and to the Earth herself.  “Science” saved my life, a number of times.  They’re good, and they’re necessary.  But, they are not infallible… as the religion of “scientism” would have us believe.  As my teacher and mentor, Huston Smith, says, “Science is on balance good, whereas nothing good can be said for scientism”.


Folks in white lab coats tell us what to do, what to believe, how to act.  They create and
maintain our world-view, tell us how to understand our present, act as the high-tech fortune-tellers of our future. 


And… they get it WRONG.A LOT.  Not because they are bad, or evil, but because they start from misguided premises. As Huston Smith says:


“Scientism adds to science two corollaries: first, that the scientific method is, if not the only reliable method of getting at truth, then at least the most reliable method; and second, that the things science deals with—material entities—are the most fundamental things that exist. … Unsupported by facts, [these corollaries] are at best philosophical assumptions and at worst merely opinions.”


An opinion with disastrous consequences…


An example: Like most women in the Forties and Fifties, my mother did not breastfeed me.That’s because a white-clad doctor took a sample of her breast milk in the hospital, then sadly informed her that her milk was “too weak” to feed me.  She came home from
the hospital with me… and a bunch of cans of “formula”. (Great name! Reeks of “science”!)


What Dr. Pencilneck did not know was that initial mother’s milk is indeed “weak” in nutrients… but is amazingly high in tailored antibiotics!  That 24-hour mommy cocktail was exactly what I needed for my long-term survival – and I didn’t get it.  I was in and out of hospitals all my childhood, careening from one life-threatening illness to another.


Another example:while still pregnant with me, Dr. Pencilneck advised my mother to
take a drug to “make the delivery easier”.  As a consequence of taking the drug, my bones break easily and my teeth came in crooked, brittle and stained.  (Actually, I consider myself lucky.  She could have taken thalidomide.The fact that I’m typing this with all ten fingers means she did not take that one…)


My mother was not stupid… she was a BELIEVER.  Like everyone else at that time, she accepted without thinking the secular religion of “Scientism” – that Science has all the answers, that humans can know everything, and whatever we DON’T know… doesn’t matter.  It’s the default belief of our society. It forms the backbone of “Breaker” consciousness.


Anyone who knows me understands that I am a major proponent of the scientific method.  I regularly (and firmly) dismiss claims that are not based on a rigorous thought process and a clear testing procedure.  That, however, is a statement of PROCESS, not a statement of FACT.


I want us to extricate the very valuable baby of Science from the murky waters of “Scientism”.












All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.








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4 Responses to Consciousness… Week 08

  1. Sharon Williams says:

    My mother had a stroke a month ago on July 22nd. The Physical therapists are saying she will always be weak on the left side where she had the stroke. Does that mean she will have a crappy quality of life? My aunt thinks so. My Aunt hopes God takes her. I am trying to be as positive as I can but it is hard to keep my mom’s spirits up. My bother is crying but, I don’t think that will help. I have been reading my mother bible passages in English and German which seems to help. Her spirits are good but, she cannot talk because of the trach tube in her throat.

    • Sharif says:


      I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s illness… I know (from experience) that situations like this are hard.

      Of course a stroke does not mean that your mother’s life is “over”, or even necessarily diminished. I believe that my own mother’s stroke marked the BEGINNING of her life, not the end. Up until the time that the stroke paralyzed half of her face, she was perpetually waiting for “the right man” to sweep her off her feet and carry her (and her 3 children) away to his castle. Once the stroke stopped her from being “the pretty woman”, she got her act together, got off welfare, got a good job, then raises, then promotions… The stroke marked the end of one PHASE of her life… and the beginning of another.

      “Keeping your mom’s spirits up” should not mean denying the inevitability of death. It is an experience all of us go through. If this is her time, your challenge is to work for her safe and conscious passing. It’s not a matter of trying to keep her on the Earth plane, or “hoping God takes her”. It’s about understanding the process of life and death and helping her be okay with whatever her next steps may be.

      Also: you may want to think about adding some funny/comic readings to the Bible verses. The process of death does not have to be “heavy”.



      • Greg says:

        Sharif, this is a beautiful response. All I have to add (also, from experience) is that this is an important moment to deepen a commitment to “a world that works for all.” The end-of-life transition is fraught with Breaker beliefs, and many of them are examples of scientism.

  2. Greg says:

    Sharif, thank you for addressing a very important topic. I hope you and your readers will find my further explanation useful. In order to better explain what scientism is, I am sharing below an explanation of what science is.

    Science is, at its root, a method of asking and answering questions. The answers can never be better than, not only the questions themselves, but the assumptions behind the questions—that which we can call the “underlying paradigm.” I think an example will be helpful:

    Ptolemy began observing the heavens in the 1st Century, CE, but his observations were all wrong because his paradigm was wrong. He believed that the entire universe consisted of two spheres; the smaller one, Earth, was the center of the universe. People lived on its surface and other things lived in Hades, the Underworld. Surrounding the Earth was a larger sphere—stars, planets, and other celestial phenomena were somehow attached to the inside of the sphere, and the outside of the larger sphere was where the gods lived. The most important two questions scientists asked in response to this paradigm were: (1) How is everything attached to the large sphere so that the stars stay in place but the planets and comets move? and (2) How can we predict the planetary movements, which were called ‘epicycles’? The most important thing for us to realize is that science is only as good as the assumptions made and the questions asked.

    Today, we know that the universe is not like this picture at all, but we generally fail to see that the Ptolemaic Cosmology was as good as any science ever done–this is scientism. The Ptolemaic Cosmology lasted for over 1400 years because it is useful—not because it is ‘true.’ Even today if you are on the ocean, and you want to know where you are with only instruments at hand, you pretend that the heavens are a sphere that rotates once in a year. You use the date, the location of stars, and some simple geometry to plot your longitude and latitude. There was little or no credible challenge to either the theory or the paradigm because the theory was so useful. This is how navigation was done for not only the 1400 years that the theory was thought to be true, but for 300 years after it was shown to be false.

    For 1400 years, no one could figure out how planets were attached to the outer sphere and predict their epicycles. History has lost track of the occasions, if there were any, that scientists believed that the problem was with those questions we now know to be useless, but scientism hides bad questions asked in the past. Once Copernicus demonstrated mathematically that it was likely that the Sun was the center of the solar system and the planets orbited it, people began to imagine that the stars were similar to our sun but very far away. It would make this response far too long to explain what assumptions are needed to make today’s picture of the universe work, but here are the product of those assumptions:

    We now believe that we know the size, shape and age of the universe, but do we? Today, we cannot explain why we cannot measure 95% of what our mathematical calculations tell us must be out there. We call it ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ because we cannot measure it like we measure other forms of energy. Physicists think I’m the crazy one because I am agnostic about their explanations, but think about what it means that we have quantum theory, string theory, and superstring theory, even though we can’t even measure almost all of what other theories tell us must be out there.

    Now, think about the story that biology is telling us today—even before taking into account how pharmaceuticals are created and marketed. Remember, for example, the phrase “junk DNA”? I didn’t believe that there was any such thing from the moment I heard it, but the phrase has been in general use ever since we figured out that there was other DNA in between each gene. It is scientism that caused scientists to believe that the thing they didn’t see a use for was useless. We just learned recently that the DNA between the genes directs the expression of genes, but no one is going to shout that “junk DNA” was a typically false human judgment, not a “scientific fact.” This is not the fault of science, it is the fault of scientism—a cultural mandate to hide past wrongness in a way that human nature finds comfortable.

    Let me end by agreeing with Sharif, if we were to reject science because of scientism, we would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The world would be a better place if we all understood the assumptions that underlie what we are told is “scientific fact” and be on the alert for evidence that does not fit those assumptions. That is why a solid science education is so important and why those who do not have that education can be dangerous to a culture that relies on “scientific facts” for the decisions it makes.

    I invite you all to imagine what “Mender science” would look like. I also invite you to ask questions about my incomplete explanation.

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