Check out David Lane's response to Don Salmon, who disagreed with some central points Lane and his wife made in their essay, "Mysticism's Version of Intelligent Design: A Critique of John Davidson's Projective Creationism."
I liked the essay a lot. Praised it in a blog post, "Devastating Critique of Radha Soami Satsang Beas lies." After Don Salmon left a comment on my post, I responded in my own fashion.
David Lane's own response to Don Salmon is much more sophisticated, detailed, and carefully reasoned.
But we seem to agree on a central issue: while scientific investigations of reality never can be 100% sure about anything, evidence can be gathered and considered which point toward the most probable explanations. Lane writes:
Science works (and advances) because it is rooted in trying to spot weaknesses or flaws or insufficiencies. It is in a way conscious map making, where the would-be cartographer is constantly surveying possible gaps in the best up to date topographies.
Undoubtedly there will be those who claim to be scientists who will try to cheat or pass off their results as scientific. But the great thing about science (and why it has had such a successful run) is that it is constantly open to correction. Nothing is sacred, not even the most cherished of ideas. No authority is beyond questioning. Einstein or Darwin or Hawking or Witten or whomever can be and has been wrong.
...And, interestingly, one of the reasons there can be progress in science is because researchers do hold certain positions and certain assumptions, but then they are required to “hang those out to dry” so that others may see where their particular ideas hold true and where they do not.
Science only works to the degree that it can withstand an onslaught of competition, where eventually (by trial and by error) the best explanations--even if only tentatively held--hold court until another and better theory emerges. Newton’s understanding of gravity was quite a breakthrough for its time, but Einstein’s theory was more comprehensive and explained hitherto inexplicable problems that Newtonian physics could not. Such is science and how it works over time.
At the end of his essay, David shares some related YouTube videos. Here's one where noted physicist Richard Feynman talks about the probability that the best explanation for "flying saucers" is aliens visiting Earth.
Sure, this is possible. But is it probable? Just about anything anyone can think of possibly could exist in the unimaginably vast cosmos. The question we have to keep asking, though, is where the evidence points.
Some directions are much more probable than others. So if someone says, "God, soul, spirit -- they are that way!", I'll respond, "Yes, possibly. However I have to ask, what makes you so confident you're right?"
Now we're in the realm of science. Discussion. Debate. Consideration of competing explanations. Challenging of dogmas.
We humans are nowhere close to knowing everything about anything, and much,much further from what is likely a dream which will never be fulfilled: knowing everything about everything. Searching is our nature. It's a large part of what defines us as Homo sapiens.
There's nothing wrong with dreaming, wondering what lies hidden over the horizon, exploring far-out possibilities. We just need to remember that science is the best way to distinguish facts from fantasies, reality from a wish.
Don Salmon: I think David wrote a very interesting article, which quite accurately (though unintentionally) reveals most of modern "science" to be a thoroughly metaphysical belief system. This is most clearly stated when he talks about "evidence" that consciousness is the result of material processes. When, as Alan Wallace tirelessly points out, there is not a single scientific method (since most cognitive scientists barely accept introspection as a valid method) to even detect consciousness (and even with introspection as currently practiced, its presence can only be detected directly in humans - which is why for more than a century scientists adhered to the truly bizarre claim that an animals - and for some, babies!! - were not conscious) anywhere in the universe.
The religiousity of David's "fundamaterialism" (philosopher Neal Grossman's marvelous phrase) comes out on almost every line of the article. I suspect the intense emotion behind the article has to do with David's past association with the same group that Davidson belonged (belongs?) to.
By the way, I did acknowledge in the IW forum that personally, at least for me at least, David always comes across in his writings as a really curious, caring fellow; so i hope nobody thinks I'm comparing him too closely to religious fundamentalists.
(you can find more discussion of this at the integral world forum; or write me at [email protected])
Me: don salmon, I don't get your point. There is plenty of evidence that consciousness is the result of material/physical processes. This could easily be demonstrated on you, or anyone else, including the most proficient guru/meditator/yogi in the world.
First, they are conscious. Then they're given anesthesia. Now they're unconscious. Dead to the world. Unresponsive. Ditto if they were hit over the head forcefully. Or suffered serious brain trauma.
Physical changes to the material brain result in clear alterations in consciousness, or the loss of consciousness. This isn't a "metaphysical" speculation. It is scientific fact.
By contrast, there is essentially zero evidence that human consciousness exists apart from the human brain, or survives bodily death. Even ESP studies, which sometimes show some positive results (to my understanding; I'm not an expert on this) are dealing with living subjects who have operating physical brains.
Maybe the brain has some super capabilities science currently doesn't know about. OK, this still would be the capability of the physical brain, operating in the material world. So your attempted putdown of David Lane has nothing behind it, in my opinion.
Why didn't you cite the parts of David's essay that you disagreed with, and offer up reasons for your disagreement? This would be a better approach than simply dismissing the entire essay for reasons that make no sense.