The New Natural Science
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote that “For all men begin . . . by wondering that things are as they are.”
A central problem in achieving scientific respectability for the field of spirituality is the words we use to describe what we are talking about. Science uses terms that describe hard, physical objects and forces; things we can touch, see, and measure: subatomic particles, cosmic rays, the electromagnetic force, gravity, neurons, and genes. The field of spirituality or consciousness, however, has not yet come up with a word to describe itself that sounds scientific. The word “spirituality” sounds religious, which is out-of-bounds for science. “Consciousness” is better, but this term itself eludes a clear definition and is likely beyond measurement.
A little history, though, helps advance the discussion. What we know as “science” began as natural philosophy, or the study of nature using the mind rather than technology and experiment. As natural philosophy developed, it soon gave way to a system that regarded nature as separate from the mind — a foreign object to be examined, probed, and poked. The phases of the moon, the swirling rings of Saturn, the huff and puff of cloud formations, and the workings of the human body. Natural philosophy became “natural science” which became physics, which now dictates how we view the world: as a machine running on its own power outside the control of the mind. This is also known as the Newtonian worldview, the world-as-machine model.
It might be time for us to reconsider what we view as the “natural” part of science. We can equate “nature” with the physical world, or we can use a different sense of the term to mean the inherent character of a thing. From this perspective, consciousness is clearly a fundamental part of being alive, and in fact can be called the essence to life. (To say that consciousness emerges from matter is not a valid objection to this approach; rather it begs the question at issue: what came first, matter or mind?) Going further, we also have another “natural” power, specifically, the power to dream, the mind’s ability to project a real-seeming world from nothing but itself.
So if we do not take the fundamentally artificial step of separating ourselves from the world in order to study it, we may find that, in fact, the world we see is actually a part of us. As the German philosopher, Frederich Schelling, said, “Nature is visible Spirit; Spirit is invisible Nature.” In different words, both our souls and bodies are part of nature, not just the physical body as science teaches.
The New Natural Science (and eventually Natural Science) would then be the name of a refreshed science that adds consciousness and the power of the dream to the physical forces of nature, such as gravity and electromagneticism. With this change, we do not dismiss out-of-hand phenomena that science today cannot explain, such as clairvoyance, mind-over-matter, near-death experiences, synchronocity, or out-of-body experiences, but rather consider them as natural phenomena to understand and explain.
When we hear an increasing number of people calling for a new world outlook, this may what they have in mind: a natural science that includes what we are.