Religion, Science, Intuition, Analytical Mind; Dangerous Conflations

Science emerged in a time when superstition led to attributing causes to unrelated things and religion was abused to promote suppression/oppression of ideas. Whenever people organize, organization can magnify our undesirable tendencies; religion and science are no exceptions. No institution is immune from human failings.

Religion suppressed plenty of good scientific ideas and even tortured and killed people in the process. It is right to not want to repeat such grievous mistakes, but in so striving we may swing too far in the opposite direction, lumping good ideas in with the bad. If religion and superstition caused so much trouble, best to avoid anything that even resembles such things: spirituality and intuition become guilty by association. What starts as avoidance of ideas turns in to condemnation and ridicule of them. Suppression/oppression of ideas continues, just pointed in a different direction.

If intuition is shunned in the name of science, then those who value intuition might feel inclined to find something ‘scientific’ to shun— skepticism and analytic mind go on the chopping block; intuition gets elevated to kingly status. Backlashes beget backlashes; the cycle of suppression continues.

People love simple answers, absolutes, and they love having enemies. Like that last sentence? The sentence itself touts absolutes, pushing a simple answer (that we are incapable of being comfortable with complexity), and making an enemy (of our desire for simplicity). It is too pat.  A world full of nuance robs us of our desire to peg others as unequivocally wrong, and therefore us as unequivocally right. Reality is complex.

Intuition is an important mode of perception; but it is no panacea— just as noses are terrible at sight, intuition is no good at math; but math is not what intuition is for. Skepticism helps us refine our own notions and throw out the ones that don’t work. Analytic mind has enabled us to live longer, more comfortably, and get to the moon.

Each of these modes of thought can also be abused; analytic mind builds more efficient ways of killing, skepticism can be a crutch to avoid uncomfortable ideas, and intuition can lead to navel gazing. These modes of thought are not the problem; the problem is our tendency to abuse them to support our own belief systems.

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