Monday, January 29, 2007


From a post on Pharyngula, my answers to the questions PZ was asked.

1.) Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

No. While some say that the word "spiritual" does not necessarily have a supernatural connotation, too many do see belief in the supernatural to be part of being "spiritual," and I would most certainly not consider myself a spiritual person on those terms.

2.) We hear time and time again of the disputes between the scientific and religious communities, what is your response to the phenomenon of scientists exploring their own spirituality?

Scientists have the right to do whatever they want as long as it's legal and doesn't affect their work in a negative way. I'd rather all scientists were rational and used reason and critical thinking to disabuse themselves of such notions, but I don't have the right to demand or expect it. But I do have the right to argue with them that they should!

3.) Dr. Charles T. Tart established an online journal dedicated to scientists who wish to share their own personal transcendent experiences in confidence, known as TASTE. Many feel that they would be shunned by the scientific community if they shared their experiences with their colleagues, are you surprised by this?

I suppose I am, to an extent. I've never worked in the science field, as such, but in engineering, where I have worked, theism seems to be rampant, despite engineers seeing themselves as rationalists. I was shunned, on occasion, in fact, by engineering coworkers due to my atheism. So, yes, it does surprise me that the science field is on the opposite end of the spectrum.

4.) Do you feel that a scientist can be spiritual? Why is this?

Clearly they can. See my previous post on the subject.

5.) What do you say to some scientists who claim that a strong sense of spirituality and morality are essential in [science].

Morality and ethics are required in every field. Spirituality is required in none.

6.) Do you think that this phenomenon could pose a threat to the scientific community, when one considers the current religious climate in the U.S?

Only to the scientific community actually in the US. If the US decides not to pursue new and exciting fields of research, like stem cells and cloning, it won't stop the scientific community at large from continuing to work and make breakthroughs in those fields. It just means the US and the scientists here will lose out.

7.) Finally, have you ever had an experience that you could not scientifically explain? If so, what was it?

Assuming that by "scientifically explain" the question means "explain without resort to supernatural explanations," then the answer is no. There have been times when I wasn't sure what the explanation was, but never an experience that I felt was inherently unexplainable without resort to the supernatural.


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