Monday, 19 December 2011

Science -v- spirituality; why can't we have both?

I'm fascinated by science. I dropped science subjects at school when I was 14 which I regret profoundly.

I have read a few science books in the (many) intervening years. But as we all know, a little knowledge is dangerous and therefore I am always keen to gain more. I have enjoyed all of Prof Cox's previous TV science programmes and I therefore looked forward to A Night With the Stars last night. The trailer billed it as explaining how things can be in more than one place at once, I assumed he was going to talk about super positioning which I learnt a bit about when reading Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife during the summer.

But he didn't touch on that really. In reading the above book, it helped me to (VERY) broadly follow everything covered in the programme but that wasn't what disappointed me. I don't think there are enough television programmes about science so I'm not criticising the content, quantum mechanics is a gigantic subject to summarise in an hour! Even though I was already aware of the things he presented, I'm sure there will be many who will have enjoyed it and were enlightened by it.

What irritated me was the way Prof Cox dismissed things like spiritual healing as "wishy washy" and implied such things were only practiced by people with tattoos on their bums!

Having savoured both his Wonders series, I didn't realise he was a closed-minded reductionist. I felt quite stung by his ready dismissal of such things as I quite like him.

As I said above, I am very interested in science but I am interested in spiritual matters also - not necessarily in a religious context, until very recently I considered myself a died-in-the-wool-atheist-God-Delusion-zealot-who-will-never-ever-change. I'm also quite superstitious, which I realise is totally at odds with scientific thinking but then that's me, an individual.

I'm convinced that spiritual healing (I prefer the term energy healing actually but not many people have heard of it) can work, and that positive thinking can help with everything in your life but not as a total substitute for medical assistance or doing practical things to make what you want happen. I was so sorry to learn during a recent TV programme about his life that Steve Jobs delayed surgery on his cancer for 9 months whilst he tried to heal himself, I wish he could have tried both at the same time. 

Just because we don't understand the physics or mechanics of how the mind can affect the body, doesn't mean it should be waved away with such certainty by people who haven't tried it or experienced benefits from it.

Last month, my husband caught a cold, one of those nuisance factor ones that are just annoying, your nose runs, you get bunged up, cough and just generally feel unwell but not enough to stop you working like flu does. Last time he had a cold was in early October so this latest one was only a matter of weeks after the last.

Last time, I tried visualising a bubble around my mouth and nose to stop me catching it. It didn't work, In over 30 years of marriage, I have caught every cold that my husband has ever brought home (and he mine). I've always previously seen catching each other's illnesses as an inevitability I can do little to prevent. However, I caught it a couple of days after he did, my symptoms were less severe and I got better before him. I am convinced that the visualisation helped me to have an improved experience of the illness than his.

The end of November was no time for me to catch a cold, it's the busiest time for my business, I could not allow myself to be slowed down in the slightest. I point blank refused to accept the idea that I was going catch this latest sniffle. I steadfastly would not entertain the idea that I was going to be ill.

I put some mechanical preventions in place, I ensured that I didn't share a towel with him, I cooked all our meals whilst he was in full coughing and sneezing mode and made him sleep facing away from me. I changed my visualisation technique, instead of the bubble, which you can't keep up at all times because you do have to think about other things during the course of the day, I decided thats'probably why it didn't work. This time, whenever I was near to him and he sneezed or coughed, I imagined a bottle cleaner going up and down my nose removing any viruses that had got lodged in there since last time I did it. When I was visualising, I could feel a slight tingle in my nose so I was sure it was doing something.

Result - NO cold, I didn't catch it. Geoff has been well for a couple of weeks and I got all my work done. It could be it was just sheer bloody-minded determination and singled-minded focus that helped me avoid it but this in iteself is a kind of visualisation.

My lack of a cold will probably be dismissed by peremptory scientists as a coincidence and that the mechanical measures I put in place were the way I stayed well. That might be so but I am not sure so I'm not dismissing it. I am convinced that without that visualisation, I would have got it the same way as I did all the others. Making sweeping statements saying that things like spiritual healing don't work without KNOWING whether they do is a bit like all those people who dismissed Darwin's work who now look like right berks. I do hope Prof Cox doesn't regret his repudiation at some point when we have more knowledge.

I'd like to remind him that Richard Woolley (a UK astronomer) said Space travel is utter bilge in 1956 (one year before Sputnik).

Cox himself used a Humphry Davy quotation during the programme: Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer. (Humphry Davy invented the first electric light).

Whilst I was watching Professor Brian Cox's programme (for some reason I thought it was live), I tried to visualise him sneezing and concentrated on it for around ten minutes ... I jumped when Geoff sneezed (I kid you not!) and I stopped.

So Brian, if you're reading this and you sneezed at around 9.30ish last night - my wishy washy brain made that happen! (And before you ask, I don't have any tattoos!)


  1. I remember Mr Cox talking about connectivity and how everything was connected, so why can't "spiritualism" and "science" be connected? I too was disappointed by his arrogant stance that his physical interpretations were the only explanation of the universe, this seems to be a modern disease amongst physicists... Stephen Hawkins has recently stated in print "Philosophy is dead"... even Einstein has famously recognised that there may be something more to the universe than just physics

  2. I'm always amazed by scientists' arrogance - I believe that just because we don't have proof of something yet doesn't mean it's not possible or doesn't exist.
    I also think the mind is a far more powerful thing than we know - positive thinking works when you have faith in it, and visualisation is part of the process. I could go on for hours......

  3. Thanks for your comments; well said, both!

  4. Hello,
    I came across your blog via leaping from one blog to the next if one on their list caught my eye. I really like what you had to say on this post and couldn't agree more with you. The power of the mind is extraordinary. It is unfortunate that so much of our society will only believe what it is told to, and in turn will do so without questioning. If science and spirituality ever were to join hands, I can only imagine how breathtakingly balanced the results would be. It would change the world for the better, I think.

    Thank you for providing a thoughtful post in my wee hour blog wanderings that has taken my mind off of the many creative recipes perculating without care if I slumber or no. Also the beautiful baubles dancing on your blog has added to the moonkissed inspiration. I am bookmarking you so as to return now and then.

    Brightest blessings!

  5. Bright blessings to you too! Sorry I was so late in publishing your comments, for some reason it appeared in the spam folder of Blogger - I BET it was a pesky scientist that programmed it to go in there ;-) In his book "Beyond the Occult", the late Colin Wilson agrees with you, he thinks we are on the brink of a quantum leap into a hugely expanded human consciousness - how exciting! I look forward to future interactions. Sleep well!


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