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Insights from the crisis of science and belief

Being a Poem in the Making (Part #2)

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The ongoing financial crisis has highlighted an unexpected crisis of confidence -- of global confidelity. This extends into a crisis of faith in governance and authority, as separately argued (Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009).

Arguably this may be understood in terms of a form of methodological exhaustion of science -- together with other disciplined modes of knowing in a knowledge-based society. Analogues to various diseases may be fruitfully suspected (Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society: speculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures, 2008). This might notably be recognized as a consequence of "malnutrition" (information fast food), "diabetes" (information obesity) as a consequence of excessive consumption of "sugars", issues relating to "aging" (senility, erosion of collective memory), and collective "attention deficit disorder".

The widespread recourse to drugs could be interpreted in this light -- especially in offering "escape" from one universe and access to others. In a sense people have "moved on" from the conventional modes of knowing offered by authorities and the claims made for their truth -- or become variously disaffected from some, whilst exploring others.

The current situation of science, and appreciation of it by wider society, then offers insights of relevance to engagement of people with a "multiverse".

The crisis with respect to science is explored separately in an annex Knowledge Processes Neglected by Science: insights from the crisis of science and belief (2012). This builds on the detailed analysis carefully offered by Rupert Sheldrake (Science Set Free: 10 paths to new discovery, 2012). He indicates (and challenges) the The Ten Dogmas of Modern Science (2012), namely the ten core beliefs he considers that most scientists take unquestionably for granted, effectively constituting the scientific creed.

Complementing his articulation, the annex distinguishes the following neglected issues -- of which a significant proportion would seem to be partially or completely ignored in Sheldrake's remarkable critique:

Also of relevance to the points in the annex, and presumably an inspiration to those of Sheldrake, are David Bohm's controversial "challenges to some generally prevailing views" as outlined in the Wikipedia entry describing his innovative work onWholeness and the Implicate Order (1980).

The question is what are the dimensions of knowledge and information of which science is itself uncritical or unconscious? Those highlighted are variously interrelated from a systemic perspective which could merit clarification (cf. Map of Systemic Interdependencies None Dares Name: 12-fold challenge of global life and death, 2011).

The central concern is with the ability of any "language", exemplified by science, to communicate meaning, to inspire collective consensus, or to expect strategically relevant action as a result, as previously discussed (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011; Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy ? Towards engaging appropriately with time, 2011).

This context suggests the merit of recognizing the qualities associated with imagination -- notably cultivated by poetry -- as providing unsuspected clues of relevance to life in these times (Implication of Indwelling Intelligence in Global Confidence-building: sustaining the construction and dynamic of psychosocial reality through questioning, 2012). Curiously, given the widespread emphasis on faith -- now significantly emerging in these troubled times -- this may also reinforce the case for consideration of a marriage of extremes -- "mathematical theology", as separately argued (Mathematical Theology: future science of confidence in belief -- self-reflexive global reframing to enable faith-based governance, 2011).

Despite the defensive arguments of such as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 2006), the methodology of science is now subject to challenge, as most recently argued by Rupert Sheldrake, as noted above. The challenge has been formulated otherwise by such as Paul Feyerabend (Farewell to Reason, 1987; Conquest of Abundance: a tale of abstraction versus the richness of being, 1999).

The argument here is that the alienating qualities of the "universe" of science merit reflection in the same spirit that physics reflects creatively on the properties of anti-matter -- and even dark matter. As a mode of knowing, science is of course to be appreciated in many ways. It is its limitations -- increasingly apparent despite its claims (or because of them) -- which call for greater attention (cf. Steven Weinberg, Can Science Explain Everything? Anything? 2002).

In particular does it replicate the pattern of behaviour of that which it deprecates? As with other social groups, science tends to replicate patterns, using acquired power and authority to deny the validity of alternative perspectives and to challenge the credibility of their formulators -- without any due consideration of the dynamics of this process. It can be argued that, as a process, "science is losing it" (like religion before it) and has "set itself up for a fall". Through the process of inquiry and exploration it promulgates, science imitates other processes -- and is imitated by them.

It is in this sense that science can be understood both to be operating in a "parallel universe", and effectively to be hiding its fundamental epistemological challenges in the mysterious higher dimensionality of a "multiverse" -- as with much religion, and complete with "dark matter". Intriguingly this framing highlights the degree of relative accessibility of any "parallel universe", whether of science or religion. Engendered unconsciously, such parallel universes offer recognition of the radical inability to communicate validly, to convince, or to dominate between them.

The imagined existence of a multiverse is then the minimal acknowledgement by science of the existence of "universes" -- as ways of knowing -- to which it does not currently have access, but which may be inhabited by "others". Multiverse is a way of packaging the potential for incomprehensible coherence.

More intriguing is the sense in which science can be understood as functioning as an extremely valuable mirror by reinforcing processes which mirror its dysfunctionality. As the embodiment of the antithesis of personally significant meaning, it claims the contrary, namely through claiming so effectively to be what it is not (echoing the insights of George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form, 1960).

Given the manner in which essentially incommensurable "languages" are characteristic of distinct universes, the very nature of such languages inhibits movement between universes -- as is so evident between disciplines. This poses the challenge for the recognition of "intelligent life" in other universes -- especially when behavioural mirroring is denied (cf. Self-reflective Embodiment of Transdisciplinary Integration (SETI): the universal criterion of species maturity? 2008).

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