Spirituality plays a different ballgame than science, so the language used in either of them doesn’t often match up to the other side. New York Time bestselling author and spiritual teacher Rob Bell posits that the two need each other to help describe this modern world. Whereas science deals with explaining cold hard facts, spirituality deals in vagueries that can often help the human side of us a lot more.
Read more at BigThink.com:
Follow Big Think here:
Ah, yes. That word: “spiritual”.
I think the reason why many people run away from it is because lots of what has been done in the name of spiritual or spirituality has been completely crazy. So the problem with that word is it’s easy for a lot of really bizarre unfounded—sometimes even destructive and toxic—ideas can hang out under this word spiritual because you’re talking essentially about that which isn’t accessed through the five senses.
When somebody says, “Well, I just had a spiritual feeling.” Well, you can’t really put that on a spreadsheet. You can’t really take a picture of that. My understanding of spirituality is that this life that we’ve each been given, the very breath that we took and we’re about to take, is a gift. That life is a gift and how you respond to it, what you do with it matters.
So you’ll find in a business people working very hard and making lots of money and yet at some point asking these questions like, what is the point of what we’re doing? Why are we here? Why are we giving this kind of energy to this? Which is fundamentally a spiritual question, because the answer to that question won’t show up in the second quarter financials, and yet why people get up in the morning and come work here is the driving question behind the question behind the question.
So I begin with life is a gift and what you do with it, how you respond to it matters. And when we talk about it mattering we are talking about something that’s true but can’t be accessed in the ways that we normally access things.
And I think a lot of scientists have run from the word spiritual because a scientist deals with hard facts.
And when you get into language of the heart, language of the soul, when you start talking about transcendence you are talking about more than literal truth.
So like if somebody asks me why I fell in love with my wife and I said, “Well because she’s five seven, she’s from Arizona and she drives a Honda,” that’s kind of a weird answer. But if you say to me “Why’d you fall in love with your wife?” and I said, “I fell in love with Kristen because when we got together it was like I found my other half.” Something within you is like okay, now that’s an answer that I get. I understand that answer.
And yet it’s not like I was limping. It’s not like suddenly I actually literally found my other half. I shifted to a different kind of language to describe a different kind of reality. And so oftentimes in my experience the scientist is fine with spirituality when we understand the terms that we’re working with.
This idea somehow that faith and science are at opposition I’ve always found to be complete insanity. Both are searching for the truth. Both have a sense of wonder and an expectation and exploration. They’re each simply naming different aspects of the human experience. One thrives in naming exteriors – height, weight, gravitational pull, electromagnetic force. The other is about naming interiors – compassion, kindness, suffering, loss, heartache. They’re both simply different ways of exploring different dimensions of the human experience.
Well if you think about the past like let’s say 300-400 years of human history, especially the history of the Western world we’ve had this explosion. Some call it the age of certainty, the explosion of scientific rationalism. I mean we have 10,000 songs in our pockets. We have airports and hospitals. We don’t have polio anymore. I mean we have had this explosion of rational, stand-at-a-distance and study and analyze it with a clipboard and a lab coat—I guess now it would be an iPad—But we’ve had this explosion of knowledge about how the world actually works.