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« The Rigors of Science: Finding Research You Can Trust | Main | Addiction, Learning and Genes »

December 06, 2005


mike byfield

Hi Richard

Very good post, like the last. New reader here.

As a non-scientist, it's always struck me that science can supply a remarkable number of factual details and very impressive technology, which prompts laymen like me to accord these technicians great respect. Yet scientists have consistently failed to demonstrate provable answers to not just some but ALL of the fundamental questions facing humanity.

Where did the universe come from and where is it going, what is the physical explanation of life, what is energy, what is gravity, how did creatures form, what is thought, what is love, how can we increase social harmony decisively to eliminate our species' risk of self-annihilation, what is right and wrong.

Many scientific theories address such questions, and often these theories are asserted with a violent dogmatism that is essentially unscientific, yet no bedrock facts emerge. Heck, we don't even know definitively what electricity is after all of these years.

Prediction: Examining these subtle energies will provide facts and possibly useful techniques, but the hunt will also lead to more questions rather than fundamental answers.

In my admittedly limited experience, ultimate truth cannot be ascertained through intellectual exercise alone. Only by offering your whole being (a process which cannot be described in words or numbers) can the individual become the key that unlocks the riddle of life (however you conceive that riddle).

God bless all

Richard Petty

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your kind comments: I couldn't have put it better myself!

The trouble is that the whole scientific enterprise is has been stripped of value and meaning: indeed many scientists don't even realize that the issues that you have highlighted exists! So they use one set of tools to try and do everything: to explain the whole Universe. But it is a Universe bereft of meaning, purpose, love or legacy. Because many do not think that these are legitimate concerns for science. I am reminded of the words of the psychologist Abraham Maslow:

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Yet I am profoundly optimistic. For although MANY scientists fail to see the problem, very many more, and predominantly those on the "A-list", are hard at work, refashioning what they are doing and coming up with organic models and methods that are far more like the real world. I don't know if you've had the chance to glance over my most recent book, but I go into that in a bit of detail. I could name you scores of scientists, including those of the stature of Einstein, who felt that the Universe would NEVER be explicable in terms of mathematical theories, and even Steven Hawking at Cambridge seems to be tilting in that direction now.

Any model, any theory, that discounts our subjective experiences, our relationships and our spirituality, will be sterile and doomed. I go yet another step beyond what you way: humans are uniquely situated to bridge the material and the divine, and that is best achieved when we overcome false dualities and see the beautiful interconnectedness of the web of life.

And that is where all of what I am doing is designed to lead us.

Warmest best wishes,


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