Scientism: A Disempowering Ideology
Scientism tells us we are puny, weak, ant-like, separate, rapidly-dying skin-sacks on a rock in a cold, dead, inanimate, indifferent universe...
For quite some time I’ve meant to write a blog post about scientism.
“Scientism” is basically science-as-religion.
It refers to the ideology that treats scientific models/theories as gospel truth and puts anything remotely resembling ‘scientific findings’ on a pedestal.
Scientism often clings to outdated scientific models/paradigms, ignoring the reality that they’ve been discredited or disrupted by new findings.
Scientism often conveniently ignores the hard reality that scientists are fallible human beings, prone to all sorts of biases and incentives, and that massive financial interests often drive the creation of ‘scientific papers’ that support particular political agendas.
Scientism also often fails to integrate the earth-shattering data suggesting that phenomena behave differently when observed—i.e. the observer effect.
And scientism tends not to acknowledge the hidden assumptions that underlie virtually all of what currently passes as science, such as the assumption of an ‘objective’ world existing independent of consciousness:
“All we ever know is perception itself; hence to believe an actual world is responsible for causing perception is a major and biased assumption, fundamentally contradicting the scientific approach.”
— Bentinho Massaro, Why 99% of Scientists Are Unscientific In Their Approach
Why Scientism is Disempowering
Beyond simply being inaccurate, the picture of the world presented by many scientism-y people is profoundly bleak and disempowering.
I wrote about this recently in this series of tweets:
Am I straw-manning scientism here?
Am I not giving ample credit to the sorta-scientism-y people who also adore more non-dogmatic/mystical scientists like Sagan, Einstein, Feynman, Tesla?
I may have over-exaggerated to make my point, but I *do* see this kind of nihilistic ‘scientific’ materialism showing up all over the place in our culture, in overt and subtle ways.
And I feel it’s really quite damaging. It’s one of the last things I would want to teach my kids.
We aren’t tiny, random, insignificant specks of nothing in a cold, indifferent void.
We are the grand Mystery of Nature, presently expressing itself as human beings.
These finite bodies/lives are gorgeous, fun, and magical, yet we are also so much more than them.
We are made of the infinite. The eternal.
And if we taught our kids that, maybe they wouldn’t grow up to be depressed, disconnected, and so afraid of death that any ‘news’ campaign playing on survival-fear can throw them into a sovereignty-sacrificing tailspin.
I was recently listening to Daniel Schmachtenberger and heard him share a beautiful anecdote:
When a particular tribe of Native Americans taught their kids language, they wouldn’t say, “That’s the sun. That’s a cloud. That’s a person.” And so on.
They’d say, “That’s Great Spirit expressing itself as the sun. That’s Great Spirit expressing itself as a cloud. That’s Great Spirit expressing itself as a person.”
Can you imagine the profound difference this would make?
If, as a child, your deepest linguistic conditioning actually illuminated for you the interbeing of all things—the underlying Source that unites us all?
If we wish to discover our intrinsic freedom and interbeing and start playing a new type of game on this planet, this is truly a key piece.
We must examine the ‘deep code’ of our most fundamental stories about life and ask ourselves whether these stories truly reflect our greatest wisdom.
And we must tell stories that point beyond all stories…
On that note:
The Map is Not the Territory
“The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Another blindspot of scientism is that it tends not to recognize that “the menu is not the meal.”
Here’s one more series of tweets on scientism that I wrote ~1.5 years ago:
We need maps that point beyond all maps.
We need models that point beyond all models.
There is an infinite, unitary Mystery that we are, that cannot be compressed into any map or model.
Directly contacting this Mystery is the source of all true wonder, connection, love, and inspiration.
Scientism and other dogmatic ideologies are perhaps the greatest obstacles to contacting this living Mystery of Nature itself and feeling its heart-opening, awe-inspiring interconnection and all-inclusivity.
In Sum: Toward True Science
For some additional excellent food for thought in this vein, read/listen to Why True Spirituality is Science and Why 99% of Scientists Are Unscientific In Their Approach—both by Bentinho Massaro.
As Bentinho beautifully writes:
“I actually love conventional science and fully encourage its continuation. However, beware of scientific pride rooted in the belief of a material, independently existent world. There is literally zero proof for its existence, yet 99% of science is concerned with the study of this assumption and its components without truly questioning if it’s even really out there.
In my opinion, the purest and least religious scientists are ironically those who are often seen as religious by what current-age humans consider to be scientists; those genuine practitioners of the science of Self-Realization, for they deeply investigate the assumption of reality and perception.
I guess my point is that we should respect practitioners of self-realization at least as much as we respect conventionally validated scientists, if we wish to advance our understanding of life.
And isn’t that the overall aim of science — to understand life more accurately? How can we do that if we don’t question more rigorously the very means of all knowledge, without which none of our secondary and tertiary observations and conclusions could even be made?”
Like Bentinho, I consider myself a fan of true science—the methodology of earnestly seeking truth by endlessly updating one’s models based on new data, with the understanding that no model can ever contain reality.
I also agree with Bentinho that the scientific community will quantum leap to new heights when it starts to take more seriously the ancient science of self-realization—when it opens itself to the discoveries that reveal themselves in the silent gnosis of direct (meditative) experience.
Let us loosen our grip on our pet ideologies and find out what is beyond ideology altogether.
Let us remember that rationality is a lovely servant and terrible master.
Let us become meta-rational—holding our maps/models/systems lightly as possible, employing them as useful lenses in appropriate contexts, and deeply understanding their vast limitations.
Let us remember that the deepest questions are beyond the pay-grade of the rational mind; they are rather the domain of the silent intelligence that speaks with no words.
P.S. I’m excited to share that I’m creating an 8-week men’s circle & rite of passage called The Sovereign Man — for brothers who feel called to share from the heart and deepen in self-realization, courage, honesty, honor, open-heartedness, and wisdom-embodiment. To be the sovereign men this world is asking for.
The medicine of the men’s circle has been profound for me, and I feel honored to share it. The journey begins 11/11/21, though we will start congregating on Signal prior to that. If you feel called to be part of the intimate group of brothers undertaking this journey, reply and let me know.
Jordan Bates is father of Lila, husband of Tanja, brother of Anna, son of Connie and Dan, and friend of all. He’s a synthesizer of wisdom, spiritual mentor, writer, trickster, rapper, lover of Tao, and founder of Ouroboros. Find him on social media and view his latest books/albums/offerings here.