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For the complete debate with materialists see this list

Finally I would like to respond to my respected friend Aparthib Zaman 

 

Dear Aparthib, 

You wrote:

“Science is an anathema to Dogma. Scientific method is based on skepticism and rationalism. So science cannot be called a dogma or a religion by definition, neither can anyone make science their dogma or religion.” 

I absolutely agree with you that Science is anathema to Dogma. I have no problem with your definition of science. However, dogmatic people can be dogmatic about anything including science. 

This reminds me of an interesting episode that took place recently. Dali Lama came to our town and reserved the stadium for his conference. All the thousands of seats were sold in 20 minuets. Then two fans of this messenger of love and peace started fighting over one ticket. This was so funny that became the news and someone said, these two guys should definitely be given the front seats because they need to listen to Dali Lama more than anyone else. 

Now, my friend, I do not doubt that scientific method is based on skepticism and rationalism. My question is, are all those who claim to be scientific minded, skeptics and rationalists in the true sense of the word? May be these people, more than anyone else, need to be skeptics and rationalists. I can claim to be a great musician; that does not mean that I am what I claim to be. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. My inability to play music also does not prove Music is no art. 

I said most scientists are dogmatic and you objected. What I meant is on the issue of spirituality. On other issues they are least dogmatic than the rest of the population. Say for example I could be open minded on most issues but when it comes to Iran and Iranians I hold an untenable belief that my people are more intelligent than others. This is of course dogmatism based on prejudice. As long as people, scientists or others, deny the evidence of realities beyond what science can explain, they are dogmatic. This is not to say that science is dogma. 

 

You wrote:

“If science cannot be a dogma, then upholding science cannot be a dogma. Is it possible to uphold it to a fault? NO. Just like you cannot be too honest or you cannot be too rationalistic, you cannot be too scientific.” 

This is a true statement. You can’t be dogmatic if you uphold science but you can be dogmatic if you claim that beyond science nothing is real. There is nothing wrong if you are too honest but it would be wrong if you act with arrogance and rudeness under the pretext that you are being honest. It is wonderful to be too rationalist and too scientific. The problem arises when you deny the existence of other realities beyond science. 

You said: “Either you believe in science or you do not.” 

I do believe in science, but who said belief in science means rejecting my commonsense or my spiritual sense? Here is the problem with the pseudo rationalists. They seem to be limited by the material world. I do not think anything that scientifically or logically can be proven to be false should be accepted as true. In my response to Brent Meeker I spoke of the Single Principle underlying the creation. The principle cannot be contradictory within itself. The spiritual world (if exists) cannot be in contrast with the material world. However, things that do not fall within the parameters of science cannot be defined by science. By this definition many so-called miracles attributed to Jesus and Muhammad are false. They are false because they contradict science and logics. Muhammad could not have ascended to the seventh heaven riding on a winged pony. The heaven does not have layers and you can’t travel out of the Earth atmosphere with a winged creature or machine. So this story is obviously fairy tale. The story of Muhammad splitting the moon is also fairy tale. However the theory that we humans are spiritual in essence and our spirits survive our physical death is not contrary to science. Science simply cannot explain or quantify this phenomenon. Yet there are plenty of evidences to make us suspect there is more to us than the flesh and bones. 

We have to be careful about the difference between what science is unable to resolve and what science can disprove. Crop formations exist. They are observable phenomena. Just like aurora borealis we can’t deny their existence. One theory is that they are hoaxes. But this theory is not very tenable because some circles have appeared on snow and on thin ice. Our known technology does not allow us to create such intricate shapes. So many of these circles remain unexplained. If they are unexplained, they are paranormal. That is the dictionary definition of paranormal. It seems that some people have more problem with the term paranormal than what it really stands for. But paranormal is anything that cannot be defined by science. So these crop circles are paranormal until the day they are explained. 

You mentioned the case of the milk drinking Hindu god Ganesh. This phenomenon was observed all across the world and according to the reports some of the statutes of Ganesh, made of marble or brass drank liters of milk. This is bizarre. The phenomenon was measured and witnessed by skeptics and scientists. The whole India was paralyzed for three days and the stock market stopped because everyone lined up to feed the Ganesh with spoons of milk. I never went to see this myself, but unless all the media unanimously decided to fool me, I am inclined to believe that these people actually saw something that amazed them. You said that science explained that already. I did not do much research on this but a few sites that I checked out did not talk about the scientific explanation of this phenomenon. Would you kindly tell us what is the scientific explanation of this? Now I am very curious to know. 

On this subject you wrote:
“It was not just personal testimony. But the occurrence was explained by science. Even if there was no immediate scientific explanation available there is no justification for rushing into a non-scientific explanation invoking vague and undefined objects or entities. It is not the scientists/rationalists/science that explain them away with absurd and implausible theories, as Ali Sina has opined, in connection with crop circles, but rather the dogmatic proponents of the paranormals who do.” 

I do not quite understand. Was this phenomenon explained by science or it wasn’t? At first you say that it was and then you claim that it wasn’t. Then you conclude that I should not rush to explain these phenomena with absurd and implausible theories. I am not trying to explain anything. I am not a Hindu and I do not believe in a god with the elephant head. All I am saying is that what I heard is that scientists could not understand the phenomenon. It is entirely possible, (remember possible does not means certain) that the answerer lie somewhere outside the domain of today’s science. I think this is skepticism. What is your response to that? You say no. You do not allow yourself to utter a world about the limitations of the sacred science. You do not speculate, do not doubt, do not question.  You believe in the infallibility of the holy science. 

My response is that science is constantly evolving. Things that today are out of the parameters of science tomorrow may be part of it. Let us take an example: According to today’s science, we know that interstellar trips are impossible. Objects and especially living beings cannot travel with the speed of light and even they do it takes them tens of years to travel from one solar system to another and millions or billions of years to go from one galaxy to another. However, science has discovered that space is curve. Imagine holding a paper in your hand and that paper represents space. Put a dot in at the top of the paper and another at the bottom of it each representing one galaxy. Now imagine that the distance between two dots or galaxies is ten billion light years. But since we know the space is curved, let us bend the paper so the to dots almost meet. If you go form one dot to another moving on the surface of the paper it takes you billions of years traveling at the speed of light. But if you somehow manage to find your way out of the sheet of the paper and jump directly from the point A to the point B it may take you much less time. 

Some scientists say that there might be “wormholes” that join one part of the space to another. Remember that most of the space is black matter and therefore to us invisible. So it is not impossible that wormholes exist.  This is all science fiction. It is pure imagination. We have found no evidence of such wormholes. Shall we dismiss these theories just because science has not been able to prove them yet? What if they were ancient theories? Would they become fairy tales automatically? 

The point is that our science is at its infancy. For each discovery we make ten more questions emerge. As the sphere of our knowledge expands, its surface that is in contact with the unknown also expands. It would be irrational to dismiss any theory for explaining the phenomena that we do not understand. As long as these theories are not contrasting with the known science, we should not reject them. Theories do not become obsolete just because they are old. The theory that humans have souls that survive their death is as old as humanity. It has never been challenged by science. On the contrary with the advances of the medicine more people who are declared clinically dead do come back and their tales of after life is astonishing. Is that all the chemical reaction of the brain? Do you have any scientific evidence that this is the case? Or is it possible that human soul lives independent of the body and that consciousness is not a function of the brain but a reflection in it. In other words may be the brain is not the organ of mind but an instrument in which the mind reflects the way light reflects in a mirror or radio waves are captured by the radio. This is also a theory. Why should we accept one theory and dismiss the other. Both theories are plausible. Dogmatism is denial of one or the other without any proof. That is why I call the pseudo rationalists dogmatic. They are dogmatic because they are unable to accept plausible theories as possibilities. Mind you, I am not saying spirits exist or life after death is real. I am saying that this is a plausible possibility and should not be dismissed blindly because our limited science has not been able to fathom it. 

You wrote:
“Science never offers absurd or implausible explanations, rather offers plausible ones, guided by Occam's razor.” 

Occam’s razor states: “one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything”

Are the explanations given by scientists enough to explain all the unexplainable phenomena such as out of the body experiences, ball lightning, telepathy, remote viewing and so on? Most so-called scientists even deny the existence of such phenomena. Those who admit their existence also admit that they do not know the correct answer, and their theories to explain such phenomena are not fool proof. There are holes in their theories. So we obviously do not have all the necessary explanations. Then why this adamant refusal to consider the possibility that may be the answer lies somewhere else beyond what science has been able to unravel up to now? Isn’t this dogmatism?

It is healthy to speculate and think out of the box. What is unhealthy is to accept or deny any speculation without any solid evidence.  

In my article, “What It Takes to Be a Rationalist”, I called the Iranian scientist who had an extra sensory perception and yet denied this to be a paranormal experience a dogmatic. My dear friend Aparthip thinks I have been unfair in doing so and that Iranian was a true scientist because he did not deny the experience but rather did not want to call it paranormal.

Again we seem to have difficulty in understanding the meaning of the word paranormal.  Paranormal are phenomena that actually do occur out of human mind and cannot be explained by science. We are not talking about things that are merely imagined. Those are hallucinations. This scientist acknowledged the existence of a mental image that was not just hallucinatory but prophetic. He could not explain it with his knowledge of science yet he was insisting that paranormal is pure gibberish. If this is not dogmatism I do not know what it is. If I see my cat going through the wall (assuming that I am not hallucinating) this is a paranormal phenomenon. If you can show that actually all cats after eating strawberries can go through walls and we all understand how and why this happens then it is no more a paranormal thing.

What I notice is that you have no problem with the occurrence of the unexplainable. Your problem is with the word “paranormal”. May be this word evokes negative feelings in you. Also you do not wish anyone having theories that may not be supported by your understanding of science even though you acknowledge that science is not complete. 

There is no problem believing that one-day science will demonstrate everything. In fact science is the body of human knowledge, everything that we know and will ever know will eventually become part of our science. Dogmatism is the assertion that what today is not part of the science repertoire will never be. Today telepathy is not part of the science. Can you be sure that it will never be? Today the crop circles are not part of the science, are you sure they will never be. Today Qi (pronounced Chi) thought to be the vital energy in human body is not part of the science, are you sure it will never be?

Take the example of Qi. Our medical instruments cannot detect it, but the Chinese manage to cure their patients by manipulating it with acupuncture, Qigong and other means. There is no scientific proof for Qi, but can you deny its existence when people actually do get cured by tinkering with it? Acupuncture works even on animals, so you can't dismiss it as psychosomatic.

If you deny the existence of Qi, how can you explain the success of the Chinese medicine, which is based on Qi? If you accept the existence of Qi why don’t you accept the existence of human spirit? May be spirit is the Qi after all. Who knows?

The problem with the pseudo rationalist community is that they have selective minds. The science is constantly pushing forward, advancing and conquering new territories but the pseudo rationalists are stuck with their limited imaginations. They will not allow themselves to think out of the box, unless someone else does it first and expands the boundaries of that box. Meanwhile they will look down at him, ridicule him and call him heretic until he manages to convince them that what he says is science.

It is good to be skeptic and not accept any outlandish theory as science unless that theory is proven with ample evidence. What is wrong is the attitude that defies the possibility of finding anything new outside the boundaries of science.

My characterization of “scientific dogmatism” was not a blunder. The Nazis were not scientists, but they took a scientific theory and built a dogma around it. Lamarckism per se was not a dogma. It was a plausible theory on the mechanism of evolution that proved to be wrong. As we both stated, false scientific assumptions are not dogma. It is the unreasonable denial of any other possibility outside the adopted theory that is dogma. If anyone, take the scientific assumptions as divinely ordained, infallible and unquestionable, that attitude is dogma.

 

You wrote: 
"Rational" critics like Ali Sina view science as something similar to religion and thus like religion, there can be dogmatic adherents of science as well, according to him.”

That is not true at all. I do not view science as another religion. My whole argument is to denounce those who do that. It is not me who thinks science is similar to religion. It is the pseudo scientists who have not left their religious attitude and approach science like religion. To be a scientist you have to be a critical thinker and above all a skeptic. You cannot be a skeptic and a believer at the same time. If you “believe” that beyond the known science there is nothing and anything falling outside of it should not be even touched or discussed, you are a dogmatic. Science is not another religion, science is not dogma, but one can take it as a religion and be dogmatic about it.

 

You wrote:
“Anyone can choose to be dogmatic about an issue, he can be a religionist, a scientist or a even true rationalist like Ali Sina. But Science or scientists as a community will never be another dogma or religion or followers of such.”

Here you are actually echoing me with the exception of calling me a dogmatic. I am saying exactly the same thing while calling the pseudo rationalists dogmatic. Now in principle we both agree on the definition of science and dogmatism. We both agree that science is not dogma but scientists can be dogmatic. That is a good progress. Now the question remains which one of us is dogmatic.

I do not believe in anything unless it is proven to be true and then I “know” but still don’t believe. I also do not deny anything unless it is demonstrated to be false. I hardly call this attitude a dogmatic attitude. I constantly question my beliefs and I am open to change as I have demonstrated throughout my life.

What about you? Do you agree that there are phenomena that science cannot explain and that there are theories that might be true even though they are beyond the scientific experimentation? If you do then you agree with me, but if you don’t then you are dogmatic. For me anything is possible unless it is proven to be impossible. For you, there is a limitation and that limitation is set by our limited understanding of science. Now according to the above assumptions, I can’t be called dogmatic, but you can.

What is the difference between you and a religionist? You have taken humans’ limited understanding of science as absolute authority. A religionist does the same thing with his religion. You deny the possibility that there are realities that are beyond our limited understanding of science. A religionist has the same attitude towards his religion. For you any theory that may fall beyond our limited understanding of science is heresy. A religionist feels the same way about his religion. So why shall we call a religionist a dogmatic and not you? Your answer is that science is absolute truth and should not be compared to religion. Ask this question from a religionist and he will give you the exact same answer. He will tell you that his religion should not be compared to any other religion or to the “manmade” science because his religion is from God and is the absolute truth.

Do you see the similarity? Do you see why I call the pseudo rationalists a bunch of dogmatic folk that merely have changed their religion but not their religious attitude?

Now please do not interpret this as a personal attack. Of course you are aware of my respect for your person. I am merely trying to elucidate the idea of dogmatism and why the so-called rationalists are not immune to it.

You also called me dogmatic. Please show me how. May be, you merely did so, as our friend Brent Meeker pointed out, “Dogmatism: A term used by many and various philosophers to characterise their opponents' view more or less derogatorily.” 

Is so that is fine with me. But I call people dogmatic not just to disparage their views but rather in the true sense of this term, i.e. blind adherence an authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, considered to be absolutely true.

Let me quote one dogmatic statement of yours. You wrote:
” Only religion will be religion and dogma will be dogma. Science is not a religion or a dogma, so it can never be or turned into one.”

As I explained above, in the case of Nazism, science was taken as dogma. Again you may argue that that was not science and I agree. However we are not talking about science but about the ability of humans to be dogmatic about anything including science. Of course science is not dogma. We both said this on several occasions. Dogma is an attitude that many humans have and they can be dogmatic about anything, including science.

                    

You continued:
“No one can adopt or make science a religion. You cannot use a pen to hammer a nail. Neither can you use a hammer to write. They are not made for such uses. Science is not made for use as a dogma.”

This is another dogma. Anything can be misused, including science. Think of Buddhism. After you read this beautiful philosophy you think it is impossible for anyone to use it for killing others. Yet the fact is that even Buddhists can be terrorists and use their religion as the pretext to kill.

How about logic? Do you think logic cannot be used to prove illogicality? If you said yes, think again! Look at so many religious universities and truly intelligent and knowledgeable people who strive hard and invent philosophies to demonstrate their irrational religions are logical and rational. In Islam we had great philosophers such as Al Ghazali and Rumi who became followers of the stupid Muhammad and built philosophies and theologies based on the nonsense doctrine of that crazy man.

Anytime you feel you have found the source of the absolute truth, you are in a great danger because in that precise moment you have lost it.

The truth is only in doubts. Doubt everything and find your own light.

Regards 

 

Ali Sina   

 

 

 

 

 

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