Are you sure you're right about something? Whether it is going to rain tomorrow; whether space aliens have visited Earth; whether God exists. Whatever.
If so, you've got a religious attitude, even if you don't consider yourself to be religious. That's because science is never completely certain. Scientists always are open to having their ideas about reality disproved.
In short, they love being wrong. Indeed, says Steven Ross Pomeroy in his Scientific American blog post, "The Key to Science (and Life) is Being Wrong."
A good scientist must be willing to be wrong. Such an inclination is liberating, for it allows him or her to investigate potential answers — however unlikely they may be — to the difficult questions inspired by this vast, wondrous universe. Not only that, a willingness to be wrong frees a scientist to pursue any avenue opened by evidence, even if that evidence doesn’t support his or her original hunch.
“The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away,” The great science communicator Carl Sagan wrote. “Don’t waste neurons on what doesn’t work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data.”
I diligently conducted experiments in meditation for about thirty-five years, almost exactly following the precepts of Radha Soami Satsang Beas' Sant Mat-style soul-travel god-realization system. The evidence I experienced led me to conclude that truth lay in a different direction.
As Carl Sagan says a scientist should, I threw away ideas that didn't work. And embraced better ones. Pomeroy writes:
Wrongness is something we all secretly or openly dread. According to self-described “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz, in the abstract, we all understand that we’re fallible, but on the personal level, we leave little to no room for being wrong.
But Schulz believes that we should view this situation in a slightly different light.Realizing you’re wrong is what’s devastating, but being wrong often feels pretty good. As a matter of fact, it often feels identical to being right.
Like Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner off a cliff in those old Warner Brothers cartoons, we only start to fall when we come to the realization that we, along with our incorrect notions, have no solid ground to stand on. But the simple fact of the matter is that we had already run off the end of the precipice a long time ago! Thus, it’s best to admit that we’re wrong and get the fall over with so we can land (hopefully not too harshly), dust ourselves off, and get back on our feet.
Now, using my non-mystical powers of seeing into the future, I can predict that almost surely (note that scientific "almost") some religious believers will read this post and think, This guy failed to experience divinity, but this doesn't mean _____ [God, spirit, soul, heaven, Allah, take your pick] isn't real.
True. And I haven't claimed that.
What I'm saying is that I conducted a certain spiritual experiment, gathered a lot of evidence, considered how this evidence related to the hypotheses being investigated, and then came to certain conclusions. Noted physicist Richard Feynman said this is how science works.
“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong,” he asserted, craning his neck forward and adroitly pointing his left hand at the chalkboard to accentuate the point. “In that simple statement, is the key to science.”
“It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is,” Feynman proclaimed, gesticulating in wide, circular, somewhat flamboyant motions. “It doesn’t make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
lf anyone wants to prove that I'm wrong about Sant Mat/RSSB teachings being wrong, they need to provide evidence to the contrary. Otherwise we're left with the usual situation in religiosity: claims about divinity being made on the basis of unsubstantiated personal experience.
Sure, space aliens may have visited Earth. Lots of people claim to have seen them. But without solid demonstrable evidence, there's no reason to accept those claims.
Sure, heaven may be real. Lots of people claim to have seen heaven in a near-death experience, meditation, or some other means. But without solid demonstrable evidence, there's no reason to accept those claims.
This is why I've said that every religion and spiritual path is wrong. One big reason is that fundamentalist religious and spiritual believers don't consider they could be wrong. Science knows that it is impossible to be right if you're absolutely certain you can't be wrong. I wrote:
A personal experience is just that: one person's experience. End of story.
But if that person shares his or her tale with others, and it ends up getting written down, documented, formed into dogma, systematized, conceptualized, cast into philosophical stone, then a unique perspective on the cosmos can turn into a claim of universal truth.
Science, of course, doesn't work this way.
The laws of nature don't depend upon Newton's, Einstein's, Darwin's, or anybody else's personal experience. Confirmation of a scientific hypothesis is independent of the originator's individual perspective.
It's very different in the world of religion and spirituality. Jesus's supposed sayings are taken on faith as a reflection of divine reality. The Buddha's teachings are much less fundamentalist, but even here many devotees revere the messenger as much as the message.
I've read lots of books where the spiritual teaching is based on the author's questionable assumption: "I did this and that and experienced such and such, so this is how you can do it too."
For example, Ramana, an Indian sage, was told by his own guru to keep asking "Who is the seer?" So Ramana formed his own teachings around the question, "Who am I?"
Well, that worked for Ramana. But why should it work for anyone else?