Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Nature of Claims that Cannot be Verified

Science has an approach to unverifiable claims which is again neutral. It is the likelihood of the truth value of a claim that determines whether it can be taken seriously or dismissed as one without any value. I must quickly add that there is a difference between a claim with a false value and a claim without any value at all either because it has not been verified as true or false or it cannot be verified at all. If this is the case then a person with a scientific outlook will not feel convinced to take any position on the subject proposed. Discussing this matter and building arguments around the claim with such a person will rightly lead to an impasse.

There are many people who seem to claim that God exists and make claims about the nature of past life experiences suggesting that they are real. They say that science is limited and such experiences cannot be refuted by scientific minds as they belong to what they call "reality of a sublime order". On the one hand they adopt scientific ways of proving their claims and on the other hand they reproach scientific minds for being sceptical about their experiences. This dyad is ill-maintained because 'a scientific mind' may not necessarily be a scientist. It could be anyone in any field interested in genuine inquiry and the gaps that separate truth values of claims and objects of the world. Seeing these differences, such a mind cannot understand how it is that despite them, only some gain rights to spiritual knowledge which is thought to be beyond science and scepticism. For example; the subject of hearing divine voices is not understood at present and one that is very difficult to account for. It is true that not all who hear voices are ill. But it is quite possible to maintain sanity and yet have the brain play tricks on us. While falling asleep hypnagogic hallucinations are not uncommon. You may hear a friend or a family member calling you only to find out that there was nobody calling. They are possibly associations with the past recalled by memory. Perhaps they interact with the preoccupations of the present and manifest as hallucinations when the conscious mind is not quite alert!

The workings are very similar to those of a dream. They are by no means connected with sanity. When there are so many layers of explanations possible it would be hasty to give any verdict. It would not be possible to say that it is mystical, science-proof or abnormal. They may simply be experiences that are undoubtedly rare in occurrence or frequency but nevertheless they are subject to myriad explanations. This is not acknowledged by spiritual and religious adherents. It seems to me that there are two kinds of people, a person with a scientific mind argues with and they are- 
1. The people who make claims.
2. The people who accepts their claims.

The people who make claims are the ones who use arguments that sound scientific to the untrained ear. People who accept their claims may get convinced by the arguments which are governed by a subtle fallacy but because of lack of training they may not notice it. There are those who accept their claims unquestionably on account of the simple fact being that they are spiritual masters. They have no real argument to support their beliefs.  When you begin to refute the claims, they slip away into other forms of justifications that do not serve them well in proving their claims. At this point argumentation is abandoned and what is pursued is propaganda. This falseness independent of the claim is what can be exposed by the scientific mind. There are many identities which get revealed simultaneously in their arguments when in fact there should have been only one. The motive behind the arguments is what you eventually get to see when the arguments falter and fade away into darkness.
In the case of a valid argument what you would eventually see is the conclusion which validates the hypothesis. In the case of a strong argument there is temptation to yield because it sounds quite convincing. It is valid only when all the gaps are filled and you are thoroughly demystified. 

The pursuit of knowledge is motivated by emotions. Passion and curiosity are at the heart of intellectual pursuits. Passion gives you maximum capacity to obtain truths and not the object or even the medium through which it is obtained. If you have the slightest doubt, you cannot be made to accept a claim just because it is made by a scientist or a religious thinker.  

The scientific outlook transcends the limitations of science and the scientist. It is beyond scientific rigour. The scientific outlook is a solitary conviction, prepared to walk the thin line between scientific temper and religious experience even if it appears contradictory to antagonists of the twine.

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