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The Voice of Tolemac

                             

Signs and wonders will be seen – You know my tears – This is the hour – No man shall stop my plan – Trust me!

Follow the hand of God – I will reach for you – Take my hand – Walk with me – Praise the Lord!

You have been called – You are my witness – The Rapture is coming – I am the Light – Expect me!

This is the time of teaching – There shall be a Crusade – Prepare for me – I have risen – Embrace me!

A new day is coming – I am building a Temple – My Church is being restored – Read the signs – Stand!

Allan, Oracle of Tolemac, July 26, 2015, 3:39 am

The Oracle of Tolemac

The Last Days of Tolemac” is a book of prophecy. It deals with events that are happening in the world today and shows how they fulfill prophecies that were made many centuries ago. The book is set out in a series of questions and answers, and explains in detail:

  • What is about to happen to our planet
  • Why these events are happening at this time
  • What places on earth will be affected
  • What the new world will be like
  • What we can do to prepare

If you wish to read these prophecies Click Here

As the book explains, our world is about to be transformed. We are about to experience “a new heaven and a new earth” where there will be no more suffering and no more pain. However all of us are faced with a choice. Do we wish to inherit the new world that is coming? Or will we fall victim to the catastrophes that will herald its arrival? What we need to do to survive is explained in the pages of this book.

Allan, Oracle of Tolemac, July 25, 2015, 9:13 pm

Kindle Books

For the information of readers, The Last Days of Tolemac is now available on Kindle Books as a Digital Download, as well as Allan’s major work entitled The Cosmic Web.

The Cosmic Web deals with the mysteries of life, and shows how we all have within us hidden powers that will transform our lives in the coming age. Many of the stories that appear on this Blog, as well as articles on esoteric aspects of life, have been taken from this book. And as usual with Kindle books, if you click on the cover of either book, you can read part of the contents for free.

Both books can be accessed here

Allan, Uncategorized, July 24, 2015, 7:32 am

Contact

Allan Colston can be contacted at  Tolemac@shaw.ca

Allan, Uncategorized, July 23, 2015, 12:21 pm

Articles

For the benefit of readers who might be looking for information on specific subjects related to prophecy, the following articles have been included here for easy reference. They can be found in “Articles” listed under the heading “Categories” in the column on the right:

  • The Apocalypse Unveiled
  • The Rapture Revealed
  • The Lost Years of Jesus
  • The New Golden Age
  • The Last Pope
  • The Death of the Pope
  • The Doomsday Prophecies
  • The Kachina Prophecies of the Hopi
  • Rebuilding the Temple of Solomon
  • What is “Wormwood” in the Book of Revelation?
  • What is “Mystery Babylon” in the Book of Revelation?
  • Why America is not Mentioned in “End Time” Prophecy

Allan, Articles, July 22, 2015, 9:09 pm

Talking to Animals – Part One

According to the ancient Hindu sages, whose teachings were first recorded in Sanskrit texts known as the Vedas over three thousand years ago, consciousness is the fundamental principle of all matter, and permeates every form, whether animate or inanimate.

When Jesus was rebuked by the Pharisees for allowing his disciples to sing his praises during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he replied: “I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”  (Luke 19:40)

Materialists naturally scoff at the possibility of stones possessing life, but as Ramana Maharshi told a visitor who announced that plants had life, “so too the slabs you sit on.”  1

While skeptics may discount this remark as a mere figure of speech, in the sense that we commonly refer to “the living rock”, it is worth recalling the words of the 20th century sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Speaking of the relationship between matter, consciousness and life, he said:

Consciousness as such is the subtle counterpart of matter. You may consider it in a way as a very subtle energy. Wherever matter organises itself into a stable organism, consciousness appears spontaneously. With the destruction of the organism consciousness disappears. ”  2

All physical matter, therefore, possesses consciousness. It is the subtle counterpart, the complementary aspect, of the energy of which it is constituted. It follows that all life is not only conscious, but also conscious of a sense of identity.

This identity is the sense of the “I am” which is experienced as the source of consciousness. This awareness of unique individuality is the prism through which all conscious experiences in life are viewed. Again, to quote Maharaj:

This knowledge “I am” is the same, whether it is an insect, worm, human being, or an avatar (being of the highest order); the basic consciousness is the same in all of these.”  3

Not only are all living creatures conscious, and conscious of a special sense of identity, but each form is also capable of processing information, which is the chief characteristic of intelligence.

Intelligence manifests in all forms of life, and because it does, all living organisms are potentially capable of interacting intelligently with one other.

Our current scientific paradigm has denied consciousness, and therefore intelligence, to lower orders of life, and by so doing has separated humanity from other realms of nature.

However, despite the gulf that has arisen over the centuries between human beings and creatures of the animal kingdom as a result of the materialistic view of science, it is always possible to heal this ancient breach, and to regain inter-species communication.

If we are willing to embrace a new concept of life founded upon spiritual principles, we can restore this holistic view of life. This will allow mankind to embrace a unity of expression with all creatures, a facility which up until now has tended to be the preserve of the primitive aboriginal, as well as saints and sages.

An incident in the life of the 20th century Indian sage Sri Ramana Maharshi illustrates this community of understanding.

At about 4 pm, Sri Bhagavan (the term commonly used to refer to the Maharshi), who was writing something intently, turned his eyes slowly towards the window to the north; he closed the fountain pen with the cap and put it in its case. He closed the note-book and put it aside.

He leaned back a little, looked up overhead, turned his face this way and that, and looked here and there. Then he turned to someone in the hall and said softly: ‘The pair of sparrows just came here and complained to me that their nest had been removed. I looked up and found their nest missing’.

Then he called for the attendant, Madhava Swami, and asked: ‘Madhava, did anyone remove the sparrows nest?’ The attendant, who walked in leisurely, answered with an air of unconcern: ‘I removed the nests as often as they were built. I removed the last one this afternoon’4

Those people who have been raised in a cultural and scientific paradigm which denies intelligence and the powers of expression to the humbler forms of life, are naturally prevented by their limiting beliefs from exercising this avenue of communication between species.

But just as it is always possible to overcome one’s limiting beliefs, so one is always able to rediscover this kinship with other forms of life.

J. Allen Boone was a journalist during the earlier part of the 20th century who became interested in the care and treatment of those animals involved in Hollywood productions. This interest subsequently led him to become the first Commissioner of the Board of Animal Regulation in Los Angeles, and encouraged him to make animal-human relationships his life’s work.

At a time when movies dealing with the heroic deeds of animals were popular in Hollywood, Boone was approached to take temporary care of a German Shepherd dog named “Strongheart”, an animal star of international fame.

Boone’s association with this unusual dog was to change his life, for it prompted him to transcend the customary barriers of human and animal interaction.

It was soon clear to Boone that Strongheart was no ordinary dog. He seemed to display a telepathic understanding of his thoughts, and the two shared many unusual adventures together.

During their daily association, Boone became increasingly frustrated that, while Strongheart appeared to have no trouble understanding his own inner thoughts, he seemed to have no way of understanding the mind of the dog.

Boone eventually decided to seek the aid of a desert recluse named Mojave Dan, who was renowned for his extraordinary ability to converse with desert animals and reptiles.

Boone finally succeeded in tracking his quarry to a remote spot in the Mojave desert, and it was there, while the two of them lay beside a campfire under a canopy of stars, that he explained the nature of his problem. Dan was silent for a long time.

Finally, Dan yawned and stretched. Then he spoke, aiming his words at the stars. There’s facts about dogs he said, and there’s opinions about them. The dogs have the facts, and the humans have the opinions. If you want facts about a dog, always get them straight from the dog. If you want opinions, get them from the human.”  5

Returning to Hollywood, Boone began to see that the barrier between himself and Strongheart lay in his underlying belief in the innate superiority of humanity and the resultant inferiority of animals.

He realised that Strongheart was not simply a “dog”, but another expression of intelligent life like himself. As a result of this insight, Boone came to change his entire outlook about Strongheart.

He stopped treating him like a dog in the conventional manner and found, to his surprise, that Strongheart stopped acting in the traditional “dog-like” manner when the two of them were together.

As they began to function together as two equal and rational companions, Boone came to place himself completely in Strongheart’s care, allowing Strongheart to be the teacher, while relegating to himself the position of student. Boone later described his inner metamorphosis:

I had a large assortment of wrong beliefs about dogs and other animals; these notions had to be cleared out in order to make room for the facts. It took discipline, a sense of wonder and appreciation, inner and outer flexibility, unlimited expectancy and a willingness to follow facts wherever they led.”  6

Boone came to regard Strongheart as a spiritual creature filled with unlimited possibilities like himself. During the days they spent in each other’s company, the two came to share an exalted state of communion. While Boone chose what they would do one day, he allowed Strongheart to decide what the two of them should do the next.

On one particular day when Strongheart was in charge, Boone was taken on a long march up into the hills, until they reached a promontory of rock which towered over the surrounding scene. The two of them sat together on the rock, gazing at the setting sun. In this sublime setting Boone mentally framed the questions which had plagued him for so long.

Sitting there on the ledge with his back in my direction, Strongheart had heard the questions I had mentally asked him. When I went into that blank state of mind, without knowing what I was doing, I had become mentally open and receptive.

“Then, turning his head in my direction so as to get my full attention, he had silently answered my questions. I had spoken to Strongheart in the kind of speech which does not have to be uttered or written, and he had replied to me in the same language.

“Without the exchange of a sound or gesture between us, each had perfectly understood the other. I had at last made contact with that seemingly lost universal silent language which, as those illumined ancient’s pointed out long ago, all life is innately equipped to speak with all life whenever hearts and minds are properly attuned.”  7

Boone had bridged the gulf that normally divides human from non-human understanding, by breaking down the barriers of his old beliefs.

It was only when he had succeeded in stripping away the encrustation of his intellectual preconceptions that he was able to share that inner communion which attends true kinship between all forms of conscious life.

Boone’s interaction with Strongheart was based on a faculty of mind which parapsychologists today call “Telepathy”, or the transmission of information without using any of the known senses. And because it bypasses our customary sensory channels, telepathy is included under the term ESP, or Extra-Sensory-Perception.

But whereas telepathy is usually considered by parapsychologists to be limited to cases of communication between people, Boone demonstrated that it was possible for a human being to communicate intelligently with another species of the animal kingdom.

Sceptics, as well as those trained in modern materialistic science, naturally reject the idea of telepathy between people, or the possibility of inter-species communication. Yet there are more and more people today who have not only learned how to communicate with other species themselves, but have been able to teach others how to do so successfully as well.

One of the best-known exemplars of inter-species communication in the world today is Anna Breytenbach. Anna was born and raised in South Africa, where she later gained a degree in Psychology, Economics and Marketing at the University of Cape Town.

She subsequently began an international corporate career that took her to places like Australia and the United States, where she was able to pursue her interest in wildlife and conservation by volunteering at various animal rehabilitation and educational centres.

It was while she was living in Silicon Valley that Anna was able to receive advanced training in animal communication at the Assisi International Animal Institute in California. For the past twelve years she has been working in South Africa, Europe and the United States with domestic and wild animals.

This has included educational and rehabilitation programmes with such animals as baboons, cheetahs, lions, wolves and elephants. Without doubt, one of the most extraordinary examples of Anna’s uncanny ability to relate to animals is the episode involving a black leopard named “Diablo”, which can be seen in the video below.

According to Anna’s website, her goal is to raise awareness and advance relationships between humans and other species, on both the personal and spiritual levels, and to be a voice for animals and the wilderness.

To this end, although Anna now makes her home in the Wilderness area of the South-Western Cape, she continues to travel around the world conducting animal communication seminars. She has also been the subject of a documentary movie called “The Animal Communicator“.

Anna’s work, as well as the efforts of those who share her mission, is helping to open up new portals in the understanding of the nature and role of different species in the eco-structure of the planet.

It could also provide a vital breakthrough in humanity’s stewardship of species that are threatened by environmental degradation, by helping us to communicate directly with the animals that are most at risk.

Furthermore, it would enable us to find out from the animals themselves how they feel about living in captivity, instead of turning to scientists who merely study their outward behaviour and then utilise their own value judgements in determining how best to treat them.

Finally, for those readers interested in the outcome of the saga of “Diablo” the black leopard shown in the video above, the operators of the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary in Plettenburg Bay have provided the following video update:

References 

1  “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi“, recorded by Swami Saraswathi, Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, 1968, p. 20.
2  “I Am That“, Conversations with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, translated by Maurice Frydman, Book II, Chetana, Bombay, 1973, pp. 5-6.
3  “Seeds of Consciousness“, The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj”, edited by Jean Dunn, Grove Press, New York, 1982, p. 196.
4  “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi“, op.cit., p. 597.
Allen Boone, “Kinship with All Life“, Harper and Row, New York, 1954, pp. 47-48.
6  Ibid, p. 55.
7  Ibid, pp. 71-72.

Allan, Talking to Animals, July 21, 2015, 12:13 pm

The Fallacy of Scientific Truth – Part Four

The Illusion of Science

Space is neutral”, declared the Indian Sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, “One can fill it with what one likes.”  1

Science is the enduring proof of the truth of his assertion. The entire edifice of science has been built upon the foundations of belief. Science has proved to be so successful in describing the behaviour of the universe because we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that it does.

Furthermore, we have come to believe in the validity of scientific law because we have accepted our sensory experience of the universe as evidential proof, without ever questioning the methods whereby this evidence has been attained.

Because we experience circumstances in life which bear out these “rules of nature”, and because our experience is matched by others who think as we do, we have assumed that our experiences are evidence of the way that nature “really is”. What we fail to see is that nature has simply come to mould itself according to our beliefs.

Once the original division between the realms of matter and of mind was officially formalised, science sought to strip itself of any type of emotional or mental contamination. It became part of the etiquette of science, honoured as an article of faith, that all empirical experiments should be separated from all forms of subjective interference.

In this way, results would be seen to be independent of the human participant. Scientific experiments were undertaken with the expressed aim of identifying nature “as it really is”, freed from the influence of human bias.

This preoccupation with the objectivity of science has long been regarded as a fundamental virtue of the scientific method. It was believed that by carefully avoiding any emotional bias in the conduct of scientific experiments, and by reporting these results in neutral language, sanitised of any emotional content, that it would be possible to isolate certain basic laws of nature.

Those scientists who were considered to have invested their hopes or desires in the outcome of their empirical experiments were attacked as being emotionally biased, and their results dismissed as correspondingly “unscientific”.

What went unrecognised until quite recently, was that this “objective” approach of science was a myth, and that it was impossible, even in principle, to conduct a truly objective experiment.

There simply was no such thing as a neutral scientist. Every scientist came with a mind pregnant with expectations and limiting beliefs. These expectations and beliefs could never be isolated from the experiment itself.

Every scientific experiment was nothing more or less than a personal confrontation with nature, and the results of this interaction were inextricably tied to the mind-set of the scientist concerned.

It was precisely for this reason that scientists had achieved in the past, and would continue to experience in the future, such variable results as Kuhn and Josephson had described. There is no scientific experiment that can be successfully shielded from its human influence.

Since each experiment is an interaction between the experimenter and nature, and because there is no such thing as an independent nature or objective universe separate from the experimenter, the results of each experiment must inevitably bear the unique imprint of the mind-set of that experimenter.

The fallacy of the traditional objective view of science has been neatly exposed by Gary Zukav.

The concept of scientific objectivity rests upon the assumption of an external world which is “out there” as opposed to an “I” which is “in here” According to this view Nature, in all her diversity, is “out there”.

The task of the scientist is to observe the “out there” as objectively as possible. To observe something objectively means to see it as it would appear to an observer who has no prejudices about what he observes.

The problem that went unnoticed for three centuries is that a person who carries such an attitude certainly is prejudiced. His prejudice is to be “objective”, that is, to be without a preformed opinion.

In fact it is impossible to be without an opinion. An opinion is a point of view. The point of view that one can be without a point of view is a point of view. The new physics, quantum mechanics, tells us clearly that it is not possible to observe reality without changing it.

If we observe a certain particle collision experiment, not only do we have no way of proving that the result would have been the same if we had not been watching it, all that we know indicates that it would not have been the same, because the result that we got was affected by the fact that we were looking for it.

According to quantum mechanics there is no such thing as objectivity. We cannot eliminate ourselves from the picture. ”  2

Science and Art

Because it is impossible to extricate the scientist from the picture, the picture of the universe which has been painted by science has come to resolve itself as a pure work of art fashioned by scientists themselves. As Maharaj has stated:

Once you create for yourself a world in time and space, governed by causality, you are bound to search for and find causes for everything. You put the question and impose the answer.”  3

The entire structure of science proves ultimately to be nothing but a collective figment of scientific imagination. This does not mean to say that science is invalid, for the universe continues to appear to function just as if it truly was created according to those laws which science has identified.

But these scientific laws are not real. They do not represent the way the universe was ordained. Science cannot bind the universe according to unvarying law, nor can nature’s expression be limited to a single set of rules.

As the Sages have revealed, the universe always takes its shape according to that pattern of belief which gives it form. For, as we read in the Vedanta classic Tripura Rahasya:

The relation between space and objects and between time and events is according to your estimate of them; there is no intrinsic relationship between them.”  4

We find an echo of this truth in the words of Yoka Daishi, a Chinese Zen Master of the eighth-century A.D.

Whatever propositions are made by logic are no (true) propositions, for they stand in no intrinsic relation to my inner light.”  5

The universe is not a collection of objects that exist in outer space, but is in fact a composite picture painted by our minds.

What science has done, and done very successfully, is to colour that picture according to its own special tints. It has moulded the universe into a particular manifestation which conforms to its pattern of scientific belief.

We, who have placed our trust in science, believing implicitly in its ability to reveal the universe “as it really is”, have misplaced our trust. Although everything that science has portrayed the universe to be can be validated by experiment and personal experience, the scientific description of the world is simply one particular theory of the mind among many.

The universe is not bound by this scientific description. It can change its manifestation at any time, according to the dictates of the presiding mind. We have only to change the attitude of our minds and our personal universe will come to reflect that change.

The validity of science lasts only as long as we continue to place our trust in its underlying tenets of belief.

The moment we cease to pay allegiance to the scientific model, we cease to be bound by scientific law.

The “laws of nature”, the basic “laws of science”, have no fundamental validity. They are not ordained by God, nor are they the product of chance. And we are not bound by them unless we choose to be.

What we have come to claim as laws are merely the codification of our ideas, the crystallisation of our thoughts. They appear to be universal because we have all independently and collectively learned to agree on that description.

Each one of us has come to be bound by these laws because they are inherent in the description of the universe that we have personally adopted. We little knew in our formative years how these gossamer threads of thought would one day come to bind us in hoops of steel, yet that has been our fate.

The laws of physics are the laws of physicists. The consistency of scientific experience is proof only of the consistency of scientific belief, not evidence that the laws themselves are fundamental and unchanging. What we find in nature is what we ourselves have put there.

The avowed purpose of physical science is, as Henry Margenau has indicated, “to organize, to make rational and meaningful, all cognitive human experience.” 

The problem which science has thus far failed to recognise or address, is that all cognitive human experience is not uniform.

The experiences of each person are unique to that individual, and rest upon the tenets of their own personal belief. Those who think differently experience differently.

The success of science rests upon the fact that, by a careful process of education and conditioning, people have been taught to adopt common ways of thinking. Since, however, there will always be those who choose not to be indoctrinated, science will never be able to speak for “all cognitive human experience.”

Science will never be able to explain in rational and meaningful terms all human experience, but only those experiences which are governed by the consensus which science has itself decreed.

Science will always be confronted by the dilemma which so troubled Albert Einstein: “Alas, our theory is too poor for experience“. Its ultimate limitation will always be demonstrated by the retort of Nils Bohr: “No, No, experience is too rich for our theory.”  7

Science is dominated by the pursuit of scientific truth, that residue of experience which can be shown to be fundamental to all life. Yet science will never be able to reveal the character of the “true” Reality, for no experience can hold a candle to its Being.

Reality is that substratum which underlies all cognitive experience.  In the analogy of the cinema, Reality is the screen on which the passing images of the manifested universe appear.

While the pictures cannot be portrayed without the presence of the screen, the screen itself is unaffected by the nature of these scenes. Its integral character remains unblemished.

What science has done has been to reveal to us the nature of the pictures which are reflected upon the screen of Reality. In fact, it has done more. It has actually served to shape these pictures for those who have identified themselves with the scientific mode of thought.

These pictures can never reveal the character of the screen. No picture can show the true nature of the screen.  In order to see the screen it is necessary for the flow of images to stop, and this has been the traditional teaching of the Sages down the ages.

Science and Magic

The splendour of science is that is has enabled us to create a structured universe, which appears to be logical, consistent and understandable, and has enabled us thereby to live confident and comfortable lives.

Furthermore, it has enabled us to fashion matter in ever more astonishing ways, and to pamper us in the fulfillment of our desires. The tragedy of science is that it has truncated life, by limiting itself to those things that are of material satisfaction, and by excluding those subjective thoughts and feelings which endow life with supreme significance.

Yet the cycle of the times is changing, and the impending marriage of physics and metaphysics holds promise of healing this artificial rift. The irony of the scientific description of the universe, is that it has triumphed by those very methods which it fought against and sought to overcome.

Western science was born of a medieval society governed by faith and dominated by forces of ignorance and superstition. The crowning achievement of science has been its victory of reason over faith.

It succeeded in replacing the terror filled world of superstition with a rational exposition which illuminated the mysteries which had for so long defied the understanding of humanity.

Scientists, then, have come to represent the very antithesis of those guardians of aboriginal society, the witchdoctor and the shaman. In commenting on the role of the shaman in illiterate society, the explorer Harold Wright wrote:

The witchdoctor, in effect, steps into the dark and troubled world of primitive man’s mind, beset by fears and anxieties; and by the use of “magic” in various forms, he reduces anxiety and establishes faith.”  8

Science too, has penetrated the dark and troubled world of modern man, beset as it is by a host of anxieties and fears. It has allayed these fears by revealing a less threatening world, which is perceived to be more predictable and understandable. It has presented a world that is responsive to reason and logic.

Science has assured us that those mysteries which still confront us can be resolved by the scientific priesthood. It has used its own “magic”, in the form of its technological marvels to awaken our wonder and to establish faith in its pronouncements.

While the primitive shaman has operated within an unreasoned framework of belief which has made his “magic” possible and relevant, the scientist by contrast, has worked within a reasoned climate of belief, and achieved his “magic” by a similar exploitation of belief.

Both the shaman and the scientist have demonstrated their efficacy and power through their manipulation of belief. The “magic” of the modern scientist, however, far surpasses that of the ancient shaman. Science is not only able to heal, rejuvenate and build, but also to destroy on a scale which dwarfs the imagination.

The truth of the entire scientific enterprise over the last four hundred years is that the scientists of today are no different from those guardians of aboriginal societies, the shamans, the healers and the prophets. Scientists have in fact become the witchdoctors of our times. They are the modern magicians.

And the universe itself is an equal partner in this magic. For no sooner does a shaman, scientist or magician describe the universe according to a specific paradigm, or pattern of belief, than the universe magically transforms itself into an image that exactly matches that belief.

What scientists have yet to realise, however, is that they have always been free to change their so-called  “laws” of nature or “laws” of physics to reflect anything they wish, and the universe will always change and act accordingly, as long as scientists genuinely believe this to be true, and teach it in all their schools and universities.

The fallacy of the scientific quest is that, at its most fundamental level, science is not about seeking answers or finding out “the truth”. It is, instead, an exercise in learning how to manipulate form, and getting nature to conform with the prevailing pattern of belief.

And not only are modern scientists no different from their ancient forbears in the role they play within society, but the entire body of western scientific knowledge is simply just another paradigm of thought – another suit of clothes in which to dress the phenomena we see and sense around us.

While the vast majority of trained scientists today firmly believe that they are in the forefront of human understanding about the true nature of the universe, there are a few isolated individuals who have begun to sense the fallacy of scientific truth.

For, as Edward Harrison, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, remarked on the occasion of receiving the Melcher Award in 1986:

Human beings of all societies and in all periods of history believe that their ideas on the nature of the real world are the most secure, and that their ideas on religion, ethics and justice are the most enlightened.

Like us, they think that final knowledge is at last within reach. Like us they pity the people in earlier ages for not knowing the true facts. Unfailingly, human beings pity their ancestors for being ignorant and forget that their descendants will pity them for the same reason.

Dare I say that secure knowledge can never be found? That our boundless ignorance explains why we feel so confident of success in bounded knowledge? That each discovery creates in the long run more mystery than it solves? That we stand no closer to the ultimate truth than did our forbears? And that we are no better than the people who lived a thousand and even ten thousand years ago?”  9

Professor Harrison points toward a truth which is as old as humanity, and which we find reflected in the ancient writings of the Hindu sages:

The greatest of all delusions is the conviction that knowledge is not a delusion.”  10

References

1  “I Am That“, Conversations with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, translated by Maurice Frydman, Book I, Chetana, Bombay, 1973, p. 100.
2  Gary Zukav, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters“, Bantam, New York, 1980, pp. 30-31.
3  “I Am That“, Book I, op.cit., p. 45.
4  “Tripura Rahasya“, translated by Swami Saraswathi, Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, 1962, p. 103.
5 D. T. Suzuki, “Manual of Zen Buddhism“,. Rider, London, 1983, p. 97.
6  Henry Margenau and Lawrence LeShan, “Einstein’s Space and Van Goch’s Sky“, Macmillan, New York, 1982, p. 51.
7  Gary Zukav, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters“, Foreword by David Finkelstein, New York, July 1978.
8  Harry Wright, “Witness to Witchcraft“, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1957, p. 53.
9  Quoted in Fate magazine, June, 1988, p. 7.
10  “Tripura Rahasya“, op.cit., p. 157

 

Allan, The Fallacy of Scientific Truth, July 6, 2015, 10:29 am

The Fallacy of Scientific Truth – Part Three

Over the period of the last four centuries scientists have been remarkably successful in reducing the mysteries of life to behaviour that is both understandable and predictable, and is derived from certain fundamental principles.

These basic principles have now been formulated as scientific “laws”. And because nature has been observed to act in accordance with these laws, these scientific laws have also been equated with the “laws of nature”.

The success achieved by this scientific method of enquiry has convinced scientists that they have at last succeeded in understanding the inner workings of nature, and in so doing, have discovered the fundamental rules that govern the operation of the universe.

What was not realised until very recently, however, was that this success was actually more apparent than real. It has now become evident that these scientific “laws” are not in fact actual properties of nature at all, but simply nature that has been moulded to reflect the current expectations of scientific minds.

The Work of Thomas Kuhn

It was Thomas Kuhn, an American physicist, historian and philosopher of science at the University of California in Berkeley, who first glimpsed this mirroring influence of the mind in its construction of reality, in the course of his research into the early history of chemistry.

Kuhn focused his research on the life and work of the British chemist John Dalton, who has come to be regarded as the founding father of chemistry by virtue of his pioneering work in the formulation of atomic theory.

Dalton believed that atoms of certain elements combined together in chemical reactions with atoms of other elements in proportions which always remained unchanged. These proportions, claimed Dalton, always presented combinations of whole numbers of atoms, and never involved parts of an atom.

We know today, for example, that water is a chemical compound involving two different elements, hydrogen and oxygen. We also know that one molecule of water consists of a combination of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, exactly as Dalton predicted.

Furthermore, each molecule of water consists of an unvarying combination of these two elements. We never find two atoms of hydrogen combining with, say, 1.5 atoms of oxygen.

Today, every student of chemistry is taught that Dalton discovered the “real” way in which nature functions. Modern textbooks confirm that this was the way nature had always worked, and that Dalton was merely the first person to tumble to its plan.

However, the truth was not quite so simple. When Kuhn examined the actual historical evidence of that time, it seemed to him that Dalton had not discovered a fundamental “law” of nature at all. Instead, what appeared to have happened was that he had actally been successful in moulding nature to his particular way of thinking.

Prior to John Dalton’s advent into the field of chemistry, a fierce debate had been raging in France between the two chemists, Joseph Proust and Claude Berthollet.  Proust claimed that all chemical reactions took place in fixed proportions, while Berthollet argued that chemical compounds could vary in their proportions.

What made this debate so provocative was that each man had assembled an impressive collection of physical evidence to support his contention, and that neither man could convince the other of the fallacy of his point of view.

Now Dalton was not a chemist by training, but was in fact a meteorologist. In approaching the new subject of chemistry Dalton sided with Proust, and argued that in all reactions which were purely chemical in nature, atoms would only combine with one another in proportions which were based on combinations of whole numbers of atoms.

He therefore predicted that one atom of an element would combine with one or more atoms of another element, but not with 1.56 parts of an atom. If such a combination did occur, said Dalton, that combination was not a purely chemical reaction.

It became a basic requirement of Daltonian theory that atoms could only combine in fixed proportions of simple whole numbers.

Naturally, Dalton’s conclusions were immediately attacked by Berthollet, and with good reason, for Berthollet was able to provide empirical proof that certain compounds actually were composed of partial combinations of atoms.

When Dalton looked for evidence to justify his conclusions, he found to his consternation that some results matched his theory, and some did not. Even Proust, who supported Dalton’s view that atoms of oxygen and copper would combine together in a ratio of two to one, found that his experiments yielded a result of 1.47 to one.

Despite the brilliant insight which Dalton had bought to bear upon the theory of chemical combinations, the empirical evidence provided by other chemists did not always bear him out. Nature proved to be far from uniform, and for many years continued to defy Dalton’s neatly ordered plan.

As Thomas Kuhn explains, nature still had to be moulded into Dalton’s chemical paradigm.

But it is hard to make nature fit a paradigm. That is why the puzzles of normal science are so challenging and also why measurements undertaken without a paradigm so seldom lead to any conclusions at all. Chemists could not, therefore, simply accept Dalton’s theory on the evidence, for much of it was still negative.

Instead, even after accepting the theory, they still had to beat nature into line, a process which, in the event, took almost another generation. When it was done, even the percentage composition of well-known compounds was different. The data themselves had changed.”  1

Creating a Successful Paradigm

The universe was not revealed by Dalton to have been created according to the magic formula of whole-number combinations of atoms. Instead, Dalton’s atomic theory was merely a creation of his mind.

What made Dalton’s theory so attractive to other scientific minds, was that his theory made it possible to assimilate the work of other people like Richter and Gay-Lussac, as well as opening up new possibilities for chemical experimentation.

Had Dalton’s theory initially been rejected on the basis of the conflicting evidence of the time, it is probable that chemistry would never have come to yield the rich practical benefits which we experience today.

Fortunately, as it happened, his theory was successful in gathering converts, even though not all of these early recruits could always achieve the experimental results which his theory demanded.

Yet, as belief in the validity and elegance of the new theory grew, so experimenters began increasingly to produce the results that were expected until there came a time, about a generation later, when they reached uniformity.

It was only then, when nature had been manipulated into a common groove, that chemists could talk with confidence of chemical composition as a fixed “law of nature”. The consistency that then appeared in nature paralleled the consistency of scientific minds.

Nature had gradually been moulded by the minds of chemists until it was able to reproduce that consistency which allows us today to speak of the proportions of atomic reactions as a scientific law.

In truth there never was, nor ever will be any law of nature governing chemical combinations. “Reality” had merely come to mirror the content of people’s minds, as the Sages had predicted.

In the light of the revelations of mystics, we can begin to see how this amazing transformation of the chemical constituency of the universe came to occur.

Our Compliant Universe

To understand this process we need to recognise the fact that the universe is not a physical, objective phenomenon existing independently of our minds. What we consider to be the world outside of us is in fact nothing but a series of images appearing in consciousness.

We have learned to project these images into the form of three-dimensional objects which then appear to have an existence that is independent of ourselves. In the course of shaping our phenomenal world, we have been guided by the ideas of others, and have learned to create a world that is similar to that created by other minds.

We need to understand, furthermore, that the projections of our minds are projections which are coloured by our beliefs, as represented by our thoughts. The way in which we learn to create a common world is by acquiring those beliefs which are common to the group.

To the early pioneers of chemistry, who were making their first forays into the world of chemical analysis, there were conflicting schools of thought regarding the nature of chemical combinations. As can be expected, therefore, these early chemists found that they obtained experimental data which supported a variety of views.

Certain experiments yielded combinations of whole numbers of atoms, while others represented fractional combinations. This was the stage at which the French chemists Proust and Berthollet had their dramatic confrontation.

When Dalton appeared on the scene and argued persuasively in favour of the merits of the whole number ratio, his theory had an internal elegance which immediately appealed to many chemists.

Not everyone was convinced, however, and we can see how for several decades experimental results continued to defy Dalton’s theory. As more and more chemists came to share the Daltonian view, so the experimental results which they obtained came more and more to consolidate into the whole number pattern.

Fractional results became increasingly rare until, after the space of about another generation, they virtually disappeared, allowing the Daltonian theory of chemical combinations to reign supreme. Once all the chemists had begun to think alike, so their results came to reflect this uniformity.

It was this uniformity which served to demonstrate to succeeding generations of students the validity of Dalton’s theory, and that it was in fact a true reflection of the workings of nature.

Today, the textbooks of chemistry leave no doubt at all in the minds of aspiring students that this is a law of nature. Because the novice comes to be indoctrinated into the structure of belief of the overwhelming majority, he or she continues to sustain this universal conformity.

This fundamental belief of chemistry then continues to be verified and validated in the world by each student anew. Yet what their education actually teaches them to do, is to continue to manipulate nature into the accepted pattern of belief.

The Inconsistencies of Science

Although this unifying conditioning is at work equally in all spheres of science, not all students succumb to this conditioning. So, from time to time, odd anomalous results continue to occur. These anomalies are attributed to the shortcomings of the individual student, who is counselled to persist until the accepted or “real” result is obtained.

In the course of education and professional practice these anomalous results tend to be eradicated, as students successfully adopt the universal patterns of belief. Those pupils who consistently fail to embrace the common mould are inevitably branded as being “unscientific”. So they fail to gain admittance to the official sanctuary of science.

The vast emporium of science does not remain static, for there continue to be vendors of new ideas in every field. However, the pioneers of these new advances continue to experience the same frustrations which tormented the early explorers of chemistry. They too find themselves confronted by conflicting results, with no clear evidence as to which idea is the “correct” one.

It is only after the passage of time, and as one single climate of belief comes to predominate, that the results of practical experimentation come to match each other in a consistent way. The Cambridge physicist and Nobel prizewinner Brian Josephson commented on this strange variability of empirical data when he wrote:

Currently in physics there’s the strange phenomenon that the laws of nature seem to keep on changing. New symmetry violations are being discovered, the velocity of light is found to be different from what people thought it was, and so on.

An odd thing, which may or may not be significant, is that sometimes when a new observation is made different people get different results. In one instance a particular symmetry was broken on one side of the Atlantic, but not on the other; however, after a while everyone got the same results.

The conventional explanation would be that errors were being made on one side of the ocean, but conceivably the true explanation is that the discrepant results were genuine, and that it was the process of communication of knowledge from one side of the Atlantic to the other which caused a kind of phase transition or ordering process, as a result of which identical results were subsequently found in both places.”  2

What Josephson has referred to as “a kind of phase transition or ordering process” which subsequently causes identical results is, in fact, nothing less than the mirroring process of the mind as described by the mystics, and alluded to in the following words:

The thoughts are the content of the mind, and they shape the universe.”  (Ramana Maharshi)

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.”  (Dhammapada)

The world becomes for one whatever one is accustomed to think of it.  (Tripura Rahasya)

Experience is shaped by belief and belief is shaped by experience.”  (Nisargadatta Maharaj)

Any system of ideas is equally fertile ground for science. There is no theory, whether inherently scientific or not, which is unable to yield fruitful results. There is no limit to the range of theories which can be validated by belief, or manifested by the application of the necessary mental energy.

But, in order to succeed, any new scientific theory, like any new religious faith, has to secure recruits. Without this proselytisation, no scientific theory can hope to accumulate the necessary data of evidential proof. It is through the medium of the spoken and written word that this process of cross-fertilisation takes place.

New scientific theories generate their support in various ways. They gather new devotees either through their inherent elegance and charm, or else through their ability to explain phenomena which were hitherto misunderstood, or viewed in a different light.

The ideas of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein were only able to succeed in achieving the status of scientific paradigms because of their success in soliciting supporters. These supporters were not easily come by at first.

As the years passed, however, and especially as their former opponents retired and died, so the new adherents came to achieve a dominant position of influence. Once a platform of power had been attained and a consensus reached, the natural forces of the paradigm assumed control.

Textbooks were rewritten to accommodate the new ideas, to make them seem as if they were a logical outgrowth of earlier science. Later generations of students were then indoctrinated into accepting the fact that these new theories were proven evidence of the way that nature “really was”.

With the growth of conviction in the efficacy of these new ideas, new empirical data came to mirror these ideas in a consistent way, which then became further proof that the faith which they had placed in these new scientific theories was justified.

There are numerous instances on record where new theories have failed to garner the necessary scientific support. In such cases the budding theory has been condemned as being scientifically sterile, just like the Biblical seed that fell on stony ground.

While these theories may well have been intrinsically sound, and may even have been supported by convincing evidential proof, their failure to gain admission to the official Halls of Academe, has doomed them to be outcast.

The irony of these rejected theories is that they are invariably castigated as being “unscientific.” Yet, in most cases, the problem lies not with the question of their scientific pedigree, but with the fact that they are out of step with the conventional thinking of their time.

Because science has been built upon the foundation of belief that the universe operates in a consistent and predictable manner, the edifice of science has been forced to reflect this consistency. New theories cannot therefore be admitted to the scientific corpus unless they can be shown to be related in some fashion to what has already been accepted.

New theories are not permitted to stand alone, devoid of associated scientific support. The fact that these novel theories may be verifiable in “reality” is then beside the point. They are doomed to be ignored by virtue of their illegitimate birth, as we may see from the following example.

Karel Drbal

In 1949, a Czechoslovakian citizen named Karel Drbal applied to the Czechoslovakian Patent Office for a patent on a device which, he claimed, could sharpen razor blades.  Drbal’s device was quite a simple affair, so simple in fact that the chief patent examiner was quite unable to fathom how it worked.

To test its claims, therefore, the examiner personally used this device for ten years before supporting its claim before the patent commission. In 1959, Karel Drbal finally succeeded in being awarded Patent No 91,304 for his unusual device.  3

The sharpener concerned turned out to be a cardboard model of a pyramid, constructed according to the dimensions of the ancient Egyptian pyramid of Cheops. By an odd series of circumstances, Drbal’s invention was fated to spread across the world in subsequent decades as the miracle of “pyramid power”.

By the nineteen seventies this magical power was alleged not only to be able to sharpen razor blades, but also to relieve headaches, restore skin tissue, aid relaxation, promote inner healing, improve sleep, enhance plant growth, hasten seed germination, revive ailing plants, sweeten the taste of coffee, reduce rust, preserve milk and yoghurt, plus a host of other wonderful remedies.

It was in short a panacea for all ills. Unfortunately the bubble finally burst, and pyramid power was relegated to the domain of such pseudo-scientific myths as phlogiston and animal magnetism. The power of the pyramid was officially exposed as a grand psychological deception that had been fostered on a gullible public by the power of suggestion.

Sadly for Drbal, no millions of dollars were to flow into his pockets, nor would he become regaled as a latter day genius, to be ranked along with the scientific giants for the discovery of a new form of energy. Pyramid power was doomed to be forgotten as an irrelevant anomaly.

Yet the irony of this strange saga was, if any solace can be afforded to Drbal, that his original cardboard pyramid continued to sharpen razor blades. The unchallengeable fact was that it really worked. The problem was that it only tended to work for those who believed it would, and when it did work, those people were unable to say why it worked.

Although the power of the pyramid was attributed to a force called “Neoenergy”, science did not welcome this foundling child, because nobody could explain what Neoenergy was, or how it might be related to any other known form of energy.

Drbal himself volunteered the opinion that his razor blades were sharpened by a process of “dehydration and anoxidation”. The razor blade remained sharp he said, because the power of the pyramid forced water molecules out of the metal blade.

Clearly, this was not the sort of explanation that was likely to prompt a chair in pyramidology at Princeton, Harvard or Cambridge.  Pyramid power died a natural death, as have many other theories and devices that were inexplicable in terms of the scientific paradigm of their times.

Had it been possible, however, to incorporate the concept of Neoenergy within the accepted framework of existing scientific belief, and to reinforce this belief with the power of consensual agreement through education in every school and university, we would all no doubt today be driving vehicles powered by the miraculous force of Neoenergy.

(Continued in Part Four)

References

1  Thomas Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions“, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970, pp. 132-134.
2  Brian Josephson, “Possible Connections between Psychic Phenomena and Quantum Mechanics“, New Horizons, Vol. I, No.5, 1975, p. 226.
3  Serge King, “Neoenergy and Geometric Forms“, in “Future Science”, op.cit., pp. 193-197.

Allan, The Fallacy of Scientific Truth, June 22, 2015, 9:48 am

The Fallacy of Scientific Truth – Part Two

The underlying purpose of all science is the search for scientific laws.

In order to qualify as laws, they must not simply be theoretical ideas, often expressed in mathematical terms, but must also conform to actual experience and be supported by empirical evidence obtained by experimentation.

It is quite possible for a law to be valid theoretically, yet fail to be a true representation of the physical universe. So for example, the Greek mathematician Euclid claimed that it was a mathematical law that the sum of the three angles of any triangle would always amount to 180°, or two right-angles.

But as Einstein subsequently discovered, this did not match the results of his own experiments, because space-time was actually found to be curved and not flat. Euclid’s law therefore could not be accepted as an empirical law, nor could it be regarded as scientific truth.

Prediction and Science

Scientific laws are thus derived from actual observation. They represent a summary of past experience. Nature is believed to operate in a manner which conforms to these laws because this is what scientists have consistently found to be true, in terms of their experiments.

Because science is founded upon reason, it is assumed that what was true of natural behaviour in the past will equally well be true of all natural behaviour in the future. The limits of future possibilities tend, therefore, to be interpreted in the light of past-experience.

Yet historical observation has seldom proved to be a true guide to future possibilities. There have been numerous instances where new developments and inventions have initially been rejected on the grounds that they conflicted with the known “laws of nature”.

For example, when the incandescent light bulb was first invented, a scientific commission was formed in Britain to evaluate its future possibilities. This commission subsequently reported back to Parliament in 1878 that the light bulb was:

“…unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men. It is impossible to adapt electrical lighting to households. Any attempt to do so is futile for it would flaunt the laws of the universe. On this the most eminent scientists agree.” 

We may be amused today at the ignorance displayed by this Parliamentary Commission. Yet it was composed of scientists who were all highly respected people within their various fields of specialisation.

It is worth recalling too, that at the beginning of the 20th century it was considered impossible to travel at fifty miles (eighty kilometres) an hour, or to fly above the ground in a vehicle heavier than air. The explanation given in both of these two cases was also that to do so would contravene the “laws of nature”.

Scientists have, in fact, been poor prognosticators of the future. Even Einstein rejected the idea that nuclear energy would ever be utilised by humanity, when he declared in 1932 that “there is not the slightest indication that (nuclear) energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”  2

As it happened, scientists succeeded in shattering the atom at will a bare decade or so after these words were spoken. In another momentous statement which has since become famous, the British Astronomer Royal, Dr Richard Woolley, announced in January 1956 that “space travel is utter bilge“.  3

The reason why scientists have traditionally been poor prophets is a legacy of the classical age of science, when the universe was regarded as being a giant machine, operating according to certain basic principles which were presumed to have already been discovered.

These “laws”, according to which Nature was considered to operate, were the product of past observation. When the “new” physics of quantum mechanics exposed the shortcomings of the Giant Machine, and challenged the accepted belief that it was possible to examine the universe in any objective or neutral way, these laws in turn became more vulnerable.

Once the status of the observer gave way to the idea of the participator, the experimenter who actively influenced the results of each experiment, past observation could no longer be accepted without question as acknowledged truth. The universe became at once a far more dynamic place, and one that was filled with new subjective possibilities.

The Search for Facts

In its pursuit of meaning in this universe of experience, the fundamental ingredients of science are “facts”. Facts may be different things or different circumstances. They may be objects or portions of objects, or they may be events or patterns of events.

Whatever each datum happens to be, it does not become a scientific fact until a measurement of some sort is made. Science does not present itself as art. It is not a pursuit whereby one individual relates to his or her environment in an individual and unique way. Science represents a body of knowledge that is based on the experiments of vast numbers of individuals.

It is a necessary requirement of science, that what is regarded as a fact by one scientist must be equally recognisable as such by another, albeit with the requisite education and experience. Again, facts only become facts when they are measured.

The temperature of boiling water only becomes a fact when it is observed according to a system of measurement. Furthermore, this measurement must be capable of being replicated by anyone else. It is out of countless such observations made by successive generations of scientifically trained observers, that the corpus of scientific knowledge has been acquired.

Now facts are meaningless by themselves. The temperature of boiling water carries no meaning when compared to the colour of a tortoise shell or the speed of an approaching taxi. Although these are legitimate facts in themselves, they only acquire scientific significance when they can be linked together in a meaningful way.

Facts only become of interest to a scientist when they can be combined in the form of a theory. As the physicist W. F. Barrett has pointed out, “without a theory facts are a mob, not an army“.

It is only when facts can be grouped together in a significant way, either as a pattern of similar facts, or in comparison with others, that they assume meaning to a scientist. It goes without saying that a fact is not significant unless it is recognised to be significant.

The level of mercury in a thermometer is an important fact to a chemist who is conducting an experiment involving heat, but is meaningless to an aboriginal forest dweller who has never seen a thermometer and has no idea of its function.

All facts, therefore, only become facts in relation to a particular attitude of mind. It is the mental outlook of the individual that determines which facts are significant and how they may be linked together in a meaningful way.

The Early History of Science

The early scientific investigators of the sixteenth century had no precedents as to what was significant and what was not, and they proceeded according to their own inner curiosity and conviction.

These scientific pioneers communicated the results of their investigations to others, and did so in ways which made it possible for others to duplicate them for their own satisfaction. In due course, people of similar theoretical persuasions banded together to form schools of common interest.

Although the early history of science was characterised by independent and localised research, with no general consensus between members of different schools of thought, there appeared certain scientists who were men of such towering intellectual ability, and who were able to coordinate facts in novel ways of such brilliant ingenuity, that they were able to dominate the science of their day.

These men of genius were able to explain nature in ways which transformed the previously accepted habits of thought.

The first of these men in the history of western science was Copernicus. Copernicus did not discover facts which were unknown to astronomers trained in the Ptolemaic school of astronomy. What he did was to explain these facts in a completely new way.

It was his brilliant and revolutionary insight which enabled subsequent generations of astronomers to add a wealth of information about celestial objects, and to explain this information in ways which overcame the problems inherent in the Ptolemaic system of astronomy.

Other examples of these intellectual giants were Sir Isaac Newton, the British physicist James Maxwell, and Albert Einstein. These men revolutionised the theoretical constructs of their times, in ways which had profound implications for future scientific research and development.

Science and Revolution

In referring to such men, the scientific historian Thomas Kuhn wrote that each “transformed the scientific imagination in ways that we shall ultimately need to describe as a transformation of the world within which scientific work was done.”  4

Kuhn called these transformations scientific revolutions, and he used the term “paradigm” to describe them. He defined a scientific paradigm as “the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by members of a given community.”  

Paradigms according to Kuhn, were scientific revolutions which altered the entire perspectives of their times, being “universally recognised scientific achievements that for a time provided model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners.” 

In tracing the history of the scientific adventure, Kuhn noted that progress was far from linear, in which one scientific discovery led naturally to another. Instead, he found that scientific development followed a somewhat similar course to the social and political upheavals of those years, in which steady development was punctuated by outbreaks of sudden violence, leading to dramatic changes in the nature of those societies.

In between these outbreaks of violence, there occurred periods of relative stability in which progress was again able to follow its normal course. In dissecting the nature of these scientific revolutions, Kuhn found that, like their social counterparts, each tended to display a common character, and to develop in common ways.

He found, for example, that each new scientific revolution did more than build upon the theories of its predecessors, for each completely changed the foundations of the past. As each new paradigm became entrenched, it was necessary not only to reconstruct past theory, but also to re-evaluate past fact.

A new paradigm was not just an incremental advance on what was already known, but demonstrated a complete revision of the past. It also provided new avenues for solving the anomalies of the past and opened up new vistas for potential exploration.

Although Kuhn found that no paradigm was able to explain all the facts with which it was confronted, each new paradigm came to be accepted by the scientific community as being clearly superior to the one it superseded.

According to Kuhn, once a paradigm became universally accepted, it became possible for scientists to operate within a designated and expressed body of belief, and to apply these beliefs in novel ways. Kuhn referred to the science practised within any paradigm as “normal” science.

Under an accepted scientific paradigm, it was no longer necessary for the individual scientist to re-evaluate the entire history of science. He or she was able to work within a framework of belief that was universally acknowledged.

It was an inevitable result of the success of each new paradigm that textbooks came to be rewritten, in order to incorporate these new beliefs. The new generation of textbooks then presented the new paradigm in the light of historical perspective, in a way that suggested that it was a simple and logical outgrowth of the past.

But Kuhn found that this was seldom the case, for like all revolutions, new paradigms succeed by convulsively shaking up the accepted order of the past. As he explained:

From the beginning of the scientific enterprise, a textbook presentation implies scientists have striven for the particular objectives that are embodied in today’s paradigm. But that is not the way a science develops. Many of the puzzles of contemporary normal science did not exist until after the most recent revolution. Very few of them can be traced back to the historic beginning of the science within which they occur.”  7

New generations of students learn from a new generation of textbooks which suggest, not only that the history of science has been linear and cumulative, but that new answers have been found for old questions. Antiquated science is presented in the form of out-of-date beliefs based on inadequate information or limited understanding.

To the historian of science, however, the scientific theories of the past are as intrinsically scientific and sound as any that are current today. Because of this it seems likely that those theories which are today accorded the sanctity of scientific “truth” will one day be replaced, and in due course will be regarded as equally unscientific, in the light of a new framework of belief.

The Foundation of Belief

The validity of any scientific theory rests therefore upon its underlying foundation of belief. When the structure of that belief changes, then the theory which had previously seemed to be entirely adequate, comes to be recognised as being scientifically deficient.

For as long as the scientific paradigm prevails, normal science conducts a vigorous campaign to force nature into line with those conceptual beliefs which characterise the new paradigm, motivated by the conviction that this new paradigm is able to reveal nature “as it really is”.

Within the limitations of the paradigm, this normal science at first succeeds brilliantly in solving problems which could hardly have been imagined in the past. The range of technological achievements and practical utilisation grows apace.

The paradigm does, however, exert a subtle restraining influence upon the practitioners of this normal science. It inevitably determines what scientific problems are valid within that paradigm, and which are to be ignored as being unscientific.

Kuhn also points to another subtle characteristic of each scientific revolution which he calls the “invisibility” of the paradigm.  Those practitioners of normal science who have been trained within a specific paradigm, and who have acquired its underlying philosophy of belief, seldom see the limiting pressures of the paradigm itself. They remain unable to extricate themselves from the limitations of their paradigm, for they are generally unaware of its existence.

Normal science works within a paradigm and, as Kuhn points out, is at first spectacularly successful in resolving problems that arise within the framework of that paradigm. As the body of data generated by normal science grows, however, certain anomalies appear which cannot be explained by the paradigm.

Initially these anomalies are small in number, and can easily be dismissed as being of little consequence in the overall scheme of things. As they grow more numerous, it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore them and the prevailing paradigm becomes increasingly unwieldy or contrived.

It was precisely this state of unwieldy complexity in Ptolemaic astronomy, which was reduced to explaining the motion of celestial objects by means of an increasing number of epicycles, that led to the breakthrough of understanding provided by Copernicus.

Changing Paradigms

When a scientific paradigm is overburdened by anomalies which it is unable to explain, it becomes ripe for revolutionary crisis. These crises have generally been resolved in the history of western science by lonely men of genius, who have been able to present an entirely new way of evaluating past data.

Founders of new paradigms are invariably young men who have, in one way or another, escaped the conditioning of their colleagues, and who have not yet become entrenched within their professions.

They are thus able to bring a new vision to their fields of practice, and to link past data in revolutionary ways which are successful in explaining most of the unexplained anomalies of the past.

These revolutionary purveyors of new ideas have traditionally met with a wave of resistance from “normal” scientists who have been conditioned in the old habits of thinking. Not surprisingly, this resistance has been particularly marked among those scientists whose status and reputation have been built upon the old ideas, and therefore have the most to lose by an overthrow of the old regime.

Each scientific revolution proceeds therefore very much like its social or military counterpart. It is led by a young and bold leader, who is successful in drawing to his or her side recruits, who then do battle with the old guard who have become entrenched in the traditional ways of thinking.

Success, however, does not come easily or immediately. It often takes several generations before victory is complete and the old paradigm is successfully demolished.

As Max Planck, who was himself a progenitor of new ideas, sadly reflected: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”  8

Planck had good reason for this comment, for he was able to draw on the harsh criticism and initial rejection which greeted his discovery of the quantum. But he was in good company, for it took almost a hundred years for the ideas of Copernicus to become generally accepted, while Newton’s theories were not adopted in his own lifetime.

Einstein’s theory of relativity, arguably the most explosive theory in the history of science, and which daily dominates our lives in the form of the nuclear threat, was met with initial disbelief and to this day has failed to merit the Nobel prize for physics.

False Assumptions

We have seen that science concerns itself with “observables.” As scientists have penetrated ever more deeply into the secrets of matter, they have come to examine more closely this question of observation.

Under the paradigm of classical physics dominated by Sir Isaac Newton, matter was considered to be something inert which had definite substance, and which existed and moved in empty space.

In the 20th century matter has been discovered to be something far more subtle. We have found that we can never, even in principle, learn anything about the actual nature of matter directly. All we can ever know about the world is what our senses tell us.

The nuclear physicist who charts the path of an electron through a cloud chamber is not in direct contact with reality. All he or she can say with certainty is that what was taken for an electron interacted with the cloud chamber and revealed itself to his or her senses in a particular way.

All of physical science rests ultimately upon the evidence of the senses. Even the instruments of science are simply extensions of the senses. The evidence that reveals itself to the scientist is never an objective reality which exists independently of the mind.

The new view of reality, as indicated by the new physics, is that the “observer” of classical physics has had to be replaced by the concept of “participator”. A person who sets up an experiment inevitably influences the result of that experiment by virtue of the act of participation.

According to this new view of reality, it is never possible to examine nature “as it really is”, but only through that particular filter which characterises each individual mind. The outcome of any experiment will thus inevitably be dominated by the contents of that mind.

The very essence of the scientific enterprise has been an attempt to reduce all human experience to certain fundamental principles which are true for every person. In undertaking this pursuit, science has operated under certain subtle assumptions which have seldom been recognized, let alone challenged.

The first and most important assumption is that the phenomena with which it deals form part of a physical universe that is both “real” and exists “objectively” in space.

Secondly, science has assumed that this “real” universe is experienced equally by everyone alike. That being so, scientists have logically concluded that any result obtained by a trained scientist in any one discipline, will automatically match the result achieved by any other scientist in that discipline who follows the same protocol.

Thirdly, the entire scientific quest is based upon the assumption that the universe is both rational and consistent, and that all phenomena can ultimately be reduced to a single set of rules. Within the boundaries of these overall assumptions scientists have set to work to identify those rules.

Yet the irony is that, because each of these three assumptions has now been found to be false, all of the so-called “laws” deduced by scientists from this data over the last four hundred years, must necessarily be false as well.

(Continued in Part Three)

References

1  Quoted in “Future Science“, edited by John White and Stanley Krippner, Anchor, New York, 1977, pp. 344-345.
2  C. Cerf and V. Navasky, “The Experts Speak“, Pantheon Books, New York, 1984, p. 215.
Ibid, p. 258.
4  Thomas Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions“, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970, p. 6.
5  Ibid, p. 175.
6  Ibid, p.viii.
7  Ibid, p. 140.
Max Planck, “Scientific Autobiography“, translated by F.Gaynon, Philosophical Library, New York, 1949, pp. 33-34.

Allan, The Fallacy of Scientific Truth, June 8, 2015, 3:19 pm

The Fallacy of Scientific Truth – Part One

As has been pointed out in earlier posts, the world that appears to exist outside of ourselves is an illusion. What seems to us to be a solid, physical and objective reality, is in fact an outward projection of images that exist subjectively in consciousness.

What this means is that the universe that appears to surround us is actually a projection of our minds. And because there is nothing physical outside of ourselves, there obviously cannot be any such thing as a Creator of the cosmos, or any “law” that governs the workings of the universe.

However, over the course of the last four centuries, our lives have become so dominated by the technological marvels bestowed upon us by science, that science has now become the accepted yardstick for determining what is real, as well as the final authority on what is true.

So if we want to understand how scientists have allowed themselves to be misled, and how the fallacy of a real, physical universe obeying various fundamental laws of nature has come to be accepted as scientific truth, we need to take a closer look at the way in which the history of science has actually unfolded.

The Quest for Knowledge

Science stands today as a monument to mankind’s insatiable curiosity for knowledge and understanding. The word science itself is derived from the Latin root Scire, meaning “to know”. In the words of the American physicist Henry Margenau, the aim of science is “to organize, to make rational and meaningful, all cognitive human experience.”  1

The success of science, and the reason why it has proved to be the dominant description of reality on the planet today, is due to its success in doing just what Margenau has described.

Science has enabled us to explain our experiences in this mysterious universe in terms which, if not clearly understandable to all, are at least meaningful to those who have devoted themselves to a study of those terms. No man or woman today is capable of grasping every aspect of physical science. It is an edifice that has grown too large to be encompassed by a single mind.

However, the various rooms of this edifice are not isolated from one another. They are connected by common pathways of thought which are rational and consistent in themselves. The vast complex that is modern science therefore presents itself as a coherent and uniform whole.

The history of Western science began some two and a half thousand years ago with the philosophical theories of the early Greeks, and the first scientists are considered to have been men like Aristotle, Archimedes, Hippocrates, Galen, Ptolemy and Euclid.

There is however, one way in which modern science differs markedly from that practised by the early Greeks. The early progenitors of science were content to derive an intuitive understanding of the universe based on philosophical reflection. Their laws of nature were invariably intuitively deduced.

The Greeks did not feel the need to prove their deductive laws by means of physical experiments, to see whether what they had theorised actually was a true reflection of the outer world.

It took almost another two millennia for the scientific method as we have come to know it today to reach full maturity.  It did so primarily in the person of Sir Isaac Newton, who stressed the necessity for linking observation and experiment into a unified system of rational investigation.

The Need for Observation

For Newton, the basis of all science was observation. In order for anything to be explained, it had first to be observed. If something could not be observed it was pointless to discuss it, and science could contribute nothing to an understanding of its nature. Whatever was observed could be reduced to various mathematical expressions.

These mathematical formulae, however, meant nothing unless they could subsequently be confirmed by objective experiment. For Newton, it was not enough to arrive at various conclusions by means of mathematical analysis alone. These conclusions had to be tested by means of physical experiments, to ensure that they were valid representations of reality.

It was only through this winnowing process of trial and error that the kernel of truth could be found and separated from its surrounding husk of ignorance. Only in this way could science become a truly independent and self-enclosed system, which no longer rested upon superstition and blind belief.

Only those things in life were true which could be validated by the scientific method. It was because of the success whereby the inner secrets of nature were revealed by this scientific method that science increasingly came to don the mantle of authority in determining what was ultimately true and real.

While religion and the Church had previously dominated the outlook of mankind, they came in time to play an increasingly minor role, until ultimately, the Church was considered to have no authority at all in matters of physical reality. The final authority for all matters relating to the nature of the universe came to rest with physical scientists.

In their quest for an understanding of the physical universe, the first task which scientists undertook was to identify the observables. In this evaluation it was clear that the experiences of life fell into two broad categories.

The first of these groups was that of objective experience, characterised by physical objects and events involving these physical objects. The second category of experience was subjective, and was characterised by inward states of mind.

As every person knows, life unfolds as a series of encounters with physical objects located in space, that take the form of sequential events in time. However, these encounters also involve a category of experience that is clearly subjective and independent of outward form.

These experiences include various thoughts, values, ideas and judgements, as well as differing states of emotion. This inner world was seen to be personal, subjective and separate from the objects and circumstances that made up the physical universe.

The Cartesian Split

It was only natural, therefore, that scientists should have decided at the outset of their investigation to divide all observables into two separate categories. One of these categories was called “matter”, and the other was called “mind”.

The realm of matter was seen to be the proper preserve of science, while the realm of mind was considered to be something that should best be left to philosophy.

It was this fundamental division of the experience of life into two opposing categories that was formalised by the French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, in a split that has come to be known as Cartesian dualism.

By the early eighteenth century, physical science had come to concern itself solely with those aspects of the world which could be identified and measured in a quantitative way.

It was the art of measurement that was used to decide into which realm any particular observable should be allocated. If something could be measured, it fell within the theatre of physical science. If not, then it lay within the realm of philosophy and religion.

The evaluation of the observations within these different realms was, however, subject to entirely separate methods of analysis. Science operated under the searching light of reason, while religion was considered to be a function of faith, operating within a specific climate of belief.

It was this resolute resort to reason which prompted scientists to exclude all subjective factors from the pursuit of science. All emotions, hopes, desires and fears were seen to be subjective states of mind which had no place in the scientific protocol.

This attitude of scientific dispassion, or reducing science to an exercise devoid of all emotion, has become a cardinal feature of the scientific method. In retrospect, however, it was a natural and predictable result of the Cartesian split between matter and mind.

It was only in the latter half of the 20th century that this primary fracture of the universe into two opposing camps of “matter” and of “mind” came to be re-evaluated, and cause a growing body of scientists to realise that this initial division was both arbitrary and artificial, and a barrier to deeper understanding.

While this separation had been useful at first in enabling scientists to gain an insight into the nature and interrelationships of physical objects, it did nothing to assist them in the ultimate purpose of the entire enterprise, which was to understand the true nature of “all cognitive human experience.”

The Growth of Specialisation

It was not long after the initial separation between physical objects and subjective states that science began to be further subdivided for reasons of convenience, and to allow scientists to specialise in areas of their choice.

Physical science was divided into different categories such as physics, chemistry, medicine, biology and others. Physics, in turn, was later compartmentalised into such specialised categories as electromagnetism, mechanics, thermodynamics, geology, geography, astronomy and astrophysics.

It was also inevitable that as these specialised pursuits developed, scientists would find the need to develop certain words to identify those specific islands which dotted their various streams of investigation. These descriptive terms became in time the technical jargon which today characterises all categories of modern science.

While the use of clearly defined terms to describe specific objects or conditions has proved to be useful in the communication of ideas within each specific avenue of science, it has served equally effectively in creating barriers between one subdivision and another.

In order to participate in any field of science today, it is necessary to understand the specific language which characterises that field. Membership of a specific scientific group is conferred by education and training and tends to be exclusive.

Members who have passed the necessary initiation are not only bound together by virtue of their common interests and language, but have tended, perhaps understandably, to be insular and to resist interference by specialists trained in other fields.

So while science as a whole has grown into a vast building comprising numerous different levels and a host of different rooms, the unity of the entire structure is almost never grasped. Instead, specialists tend to operate largely independently of others and to resent intrusion by practitioners of other disciplines.

Again it is only in recent years that the artificiality of these divisions has come to be recognised, and scientists have begun to share their insights via multi-disciplinary conferences and projects.

The Search for Scientific Laws

Each category of scientific investigation has proceeded according to an etiquette which has now become the crux of the scientific method.

The first requirement of any science is, as we have seen, to determine the observables. In any category of science there needs to be agreement as to what it is that needs to be explained. While there has been an inevitable blurring between categories at times, on the whole each division of science has been successful in staking out for itself a region of observables.

Linked with this question of observables is the intrinsic question of measurement. For any observable to be valid it has to be capable of being measured. If something cannot be measured in a certain way, it is not regarded as a legitimate scientific observable.

Once measurements have been successfully undertaken, scientists then investigate how these various measurements can be linked together. On the basis of their initial investigations, a theoretical hypothesis is formed. This hypothesis suggests a way in which the various observables may be bound together.

A hypothesis is seldom based upon any single measurement, but rests upon a number of observations. A scientific hypothesis, therefore, is at first mere speculation, based upon a sequence of observations. It is initially a thought construct, and is unverified.

For a hypothesis to become a legitimate scientific theory, it is necessary to verify it in practice. It is for this reason that various tests are made to see whether the hypothesis is supported by factual or empirical evidence.

This evidence is gained by undertaking specific physical experiments, which are conducted according to strict protocols of control. Whenever the results of such experimentation confirm the original hypothesis, this hypothesis is upgraded to the level of a scientific theory.

When a scientific theory has been proven to be in accord with physical reality, it then becomes possible to make certain predictions about the future behaviour of known observables. These predictions are then tested by means of further controlled experiments.

If the results of these predictions successfully uphold the scientific theory, and there are no results which effectively undermine its validity, then the theory is elevated to the status of scientific “law”.

(Continued in Part Two)

References

1  Henry Margenau and Lawrence LeShan, “Einstein’s Space and Van Goch’s Sky“, Macmillan, New York, 1982, p. 51.

Allan, The Fallacy of Scientific Truth, May 25, 2015, 7:40 pm