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Critique by Swami Dharmananda

by Cooney, Pasachoff and Pasachoff


The first question this text addresses is "what is science?" This text states that after completing the first section of the book you will be able to explain what science is. But science as an isolated idea has no meaning. Without a philosophical context it becomes only a tyrant to enslave us. How we can understand the scope and relevance of science if we don't know how it fits into the larger picture. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? How should we fit into the web of life? Without a grasp of the larger picture, science itself becomes or provides the picture. When that is the case we are not in a position to use science. If we cannot see beyond science, if our vision is limited to what the master science provides, not only do we have no freedom, we cannot even understand the totality of our enslavement to science. It has then become the perfect or total tyrant. Only if we can somehow leave the worldview science provides us, and have some genuine experience from a more authentic way of relating to the world, can we hope to discover our total subjection to science.

To understand just how science relates to the human being it is helpful to first create a map of the human being. Mapping the human person helps to understand what a human is, what human consciousness is based on, and what direction the evolution of consciousness should be headed. Then we can see how and where science fits in and what it has to offer and what it cannot offer. Our culture believes in science to provide things that are out of the scope of science, hings it has no power to provide.

This text fails to address this issue. It therefore promotes the present reality where people do not use science for the purpose of serving any human values, but rather science uses people for its own ends of exploitation and runaway technology. Science has taken over the train of humanity and is speeding it down the tracks to tragedy. See appendix one for a look at where the train of humanity might go if science were not the conductor. Without a clear grasp of a map of human possibilities science can have no positive value.

Chapter One

Last year in Life Science the students learned to become more entrenched in the scientific approach to life, the approach that sees everything outside the recalcitrant ego as having no life, of being free of inherent value, as a thing to be exploited. They learned to understand life in terms of mechanical processes instead of in terms of being, or even of consciousness. This year as they study Earth Science they will learn to adopt the dogma of science that the earth is not alive, that it does not have consciousness, and certainly not feelings or moods. They will become entrenched in the belief that there is no consciousness outside the human ego, and certainly none in the inanimate forces of nature. Last year in Life Science they learned to see life as nothing more than a bundle of chemical reactions. This year they will learn in Earth Science that the earth is nothing more than a bundle of physical forces.

This view of the world as nothing but a bundle of physical forces is a very sacred dogma to modern science because it sets the stage to exploit anything and everything in nature for economic gain. That is what modern science is doing to the earth. And that is the purpose of all scientific research.

By osmosis the students will adopt the scientific attitude of disrespect for feelings. Research is to be decided with logic, to be conducted only with logic, and to be interpreted only with logic. A good scientist does not let feelings enter into scientific research. Science is the most wonderful thing, and has made us the greatest civilization ever to grace this earth. And if science continues its war on feelings and its prejudice against right brain functions and ways of being it will soon be the last civilization to grace this earth.

The opening statement lays claim to a belief that contradicts the teaching of almost every religion on planet earth. I grew up singing "This world is not my home. I'm just a passing through." But the scientific fact according to Cooney and Pasachoff is "The earth is our home…" This immediately reveals the nature of the text as one of religious indoctrination, indoctrination into the creed of science.

Continuing with the misinformation campaign it then shows an abbreviated timeline with the title: Technology in Perspective. It starts 6000 years ago with "evidence of flint mining." Why did they pick 6000 years ago. There is plenty of evidence of extensive flint use for hundreds of thousands of years. Perhaps if they admitted that modern man has been around for millions of years, as the fossil record indicates, then modern civilization doesn't seem so special. Perhaps the student won't see it with the same awe and submission.

Then in the 20th century "the computer allows scientists to analyze and store detailed information about all aspects of the earth." More misinformation. Their computers are not analyzing the earth's feelings. They are not programming the computers with the earth's love or wisdom. What about its purpose? Did it ever occur to them that maybe the earth has a purpose. No. They believe only people have a purpose (to buy technology). Computers only allow scientists to analyze and store logical, linear information about the earth. They can neither store nor analyze love. They cannot store an understanding heart. They cannot analyze feelings, or respect, or wisdom. They do not cultivate those values that promote an intimate relationship with nature, with the earth.

How do the students of Earth Science study the earth? Do they go different places in nature and try to feel the earth with their hearts? Can they not feel the mood of the earth at dawn? Can they not feel the mood of the earth at sunset? How has this "civilization" been able to cultivate such unawareness of feelings that they can miss the feelings of the earth? The earth is alive and has feelings. This is obvious to anyone who has not had their heart mutilated with the scientific indoctrination that has no place for the irrationality of feelings.

Earth Science has not taken humanity into a closer more intimate relationship with the Earth or the natural world. It has not given us the ability to be more honest with ourselves or with each other. It has not helped us understand the purpose of life. It has not given us greater control over our senses, our bodies, our desires, or our minds. It has not taught us to love, forgive, and live in mutual understanding and respect with the rest of humanity, let alone with the other living beings that share this planet. What is it then that science is trying to give us?

Where is Science Trying to Lead Us ?

Under the influence of science, progress has come to be regarded as technological progress. But this technology is only a technology of manipulating the external environment, the apparent material world. What about progress for the human experience? Where is the technology for improving the inner consciousness of people? Which modern technologies can improve compassion, patience, peace of mind, or non-attachment? Progress is no longer thought of in human terms. Technology is no longer thought of in terms of the evolution of consciousness.

Manipulating the external world does not necessarily mean there has been any progress. All this building, no matter how technologically sophisticated, is totally useless as far as humanity is concerned if it does not contribute towards self-control, towards non-violence and the other virtues.

So what is all this science and technology being used for? Those who have failed to understand the third level in our map of the human being (see appendix) are abusing it. They are seeking power, and they are seeking it at the expense of nature, at the expense of other creatures we share this earth with, and at the expense of other people.

The primary means used for gaining power is through the manipulation of information. With the advent of computers and the information age the potential to manipulate information in order to gain power and money (which is just stored power) has greatly increased. One of the means used to gain power through the manipulation of information is called advertising.

Billions of dollars are poured into advertising because it is so effective in altering the behavior of people in this society. I cannot imagine an educated person being vulnerable to advertising. Are there any truly educated people in this society? Why are we all slaves to advertisers and their endless caravan of toys? Are we that empty? Like an abandoned ship with no captain, no rudder, no compass, and no plotted course. We float helplessly without a goal or purpose in life. All the advertisers must do is move in and take over the helm. Their only competition is not the ship, its crew or captain, but other advertisers.

We have no gods of our own so we readily bow to the gods of science and technology. hey give us pleasure, entertainment, and, if we are lucky, some security and power too. But we remain utterly without freedom. We are bondslaves to desire. They have us by the tail of desire. As long as we are immersed in desires we cannot escape our slavery to the endless caravan of toys and entertainment provided by modern science. Worst of all, we lack the time, energy, perspective or intelligence to realize our own predicament.

Science neither understands the purpose of life nor does it concern itself with such questions. Those who look up to science also tend to abandon concern about the purpose of life. Their purpose becomes to be entertained, to create desires and get them fulfilled.

Science Defines the Universe
in Chapter 20

This chapter is about the universe. It starts with a very disturbingly inaccurate definition of the universe. It claims that the universe is everything that exists. Not only is this wrong, it is totally preposterous.

First, for all we know, there could be an infinite number of universes, the one modern scientists study being just an insignificant one among countless universes.

Second, and more important, this is a statement of religious dogma, the dogma of materialism. Most religions of recorded history have been convinced that there is a Being that exists that transcends the universe. In some this being is seen as the creator of the universe. In some the universe is seen as Its dance. In some the universe is seen as eternal and therefore not in need of the Supreme, Transcendent Being to create it; but this in no way lessens the reality of the transcendent Being. In others the universe itself is seen as not existing in reality. In these worldviews the universe only appears to exist because of our limited and faulty perception. If our perception were unlimited and correct we would perceive only the Transcendent Being. In some worldviews the very consciousness or essence of people was found to transcend the universe.

All of these religious and philosophical worldviews which see most of what exists as transcending or outside of the universe are contradicted by the dogmatic claim of this science book. Science has never disproved any of these religions or worldviews. Indeed, if it has taught us anything, it should at least have taught us how very limited our perception is. Science at least gives some credence to the findings of some that the appearance of the universe is only an appearance that arises due to our limited and faulty perception of the universe-transcending Reality. Then, of course, it is no longer a transcendent reality because there is no universe for it to transcend.

The claim on page 474 that "scientists understand much about the universe" demonstrates a religious fanaticism about science that many, and perhaps most, scientists fail to share. Scientists know almost nothing about human history, less about the earth's history. Less yet about the consciousness of the other life forms who share this planet. Less yet about life on the billions upon billions of other planets in the universe.

I was just watching the Discovery channel. They claimed that after 20 years of intense research on lightening scientists still understand almost nothing about lightening. They don't understand what causes it. They don't know when, where, or why it will strike. Even something as close to home (kills about 100 people a year in America) and as common (average about 100 bolts per second) as lightening remains a mystery to scientists.

Instead of claiming that scientists understand much about the universe, an obvious attempt at proselytizing, they should admit that scientists probably understand nothing about the universe. What scientists used to believe they no longer believe. What they believe now they will no longer believe in the near future. In spite of the extreme dogmatism of science, which makes change slow, they do, with slow certainty, reject beliefs that become worn out and adopt new ones.

Understanding is really not even in the realm of science. Science is more closely connected with the concept of pragmatism. Pragmatism does not seek to understand anything in the pure sense of the word. It seeks not truth but what works. What works of course depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Science has found many things that work, but only for what they are trying to do. Perhaps they are trying to do the wrong things. So what is science trying to do?

Science tries to harness the natural environment to satisfy desires. What they have done seems to work for that; but there is one serious problem, which I will try to explain later.

Harnessing the physical environment to satisfy desires may have been the wrong objective for science. What if instead they had been trying to live in harmony with the natural environment? What they would have learned would have been totally different. Scientific knowledge, beliefs, and worldview would have been totally different.

The point is that understanding is not really even a goal of science. Science is really only trying to develop a certain pragmatism. What they learn and what worldview they develop depends entirely on what goals and objectives they apply in their pragmatic approach.

In the science we have in the modern world the primary objective is to harness the physical environment to satisfy physical desires. This is the limit of their paradigm. It is an artificially small world. It relates to such a small aspect of life that it can never hope to gain any real understanding of life.

An even greater handicap of modern science is the parameters of its approach. It is called empirical. It is perhaps the most limited and artificial approach to life yet developed. But it is an approach that does have validity considering their goal of harnessing the physical environment to satisfy physical desires. In their empirical approach they look only at sense data and, using a linear, intellectual approach, they try to break things down into their parts in order to find a way to make them serve their objectives. Life is not linear in nature. It cannot be adequately represented with intellectual thought, which is linear in nature.

The purpose of the mind is to process sense data. This is only a small part of "life." (Actually it is not part of life. But scientists are very confused and in the dark about what life is. This is unavoidable because their approach is limited to their binary system of the mind and sense data. The constellation of human life extends far beyond this binary system.) Life is really not even in the universe. Scientists have defined the universe as the totality of matter and energy, including the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole. The universe is that which is contained in space and is composed of matter and energy.

Space itself is really only a perspective created by our system of relating to the universe. Matter and energy are "contained" in space according to this system. Life is subtler than matter or energy. The mind and sense data are a system that is oriented to matter and energy. When your system of approach to understanding necessarily limits itself to a certain aspect of life, exclusive concentration on that aspect of life inevitably causes one to explain all life in terms of those aspects. Science may use instrumentation to extend the powers of the senses, but it still limits its universe to sensual knowledge. And it limits its interpretation of that experience to linear processes of the mind often called reasoning.

If scientific observation and linear reasoning can give any understanding they should at least be able to reveal that life and the universe are nonlinear in nature and that they cannot be adequately represented or understood with a linear approach no matter how sophisticated and elaborate. The first step in any authentic search for a true understanding of life and the universe must be to learn to transcend the limits of the mind. The mind is necessarily limited and linear because of its reliance on sense data, which is linear.

Modern culture makes people a slave to their senses. It is a culture of slavery. Without sense slavery all the "benefits" of modern science would be meaningless. They all cater to the senses. They are supposed to make life easier and more enjoyable. Even if it has done this is questionable because of how devastating it has been to the quality of our food supply and our physical health.

The booming entertainment industry is proof enough that most the people our culture produces cannot even live with the state of their own consciousness. They must constantly be distracted by one form of entertainment or another. It's not just movies and music. Recreation is often sought as a source of entertainment. TV's are on most the time in most homes. Advertisements must be designed with the need for entertainment even above the need to inform. Even the news is selected and presented with its entertainment value in mind. Education is now sometimes retooled to make the learning objective a byproduct of entertainment. Perhaps it started with Sesame Street, but now "educational" software with entertainment as the primary objective is universal.

We use entertainment to "relax." We us it for recreation, for education, for news. We even eat for entertainment. Even the process of procreation has, through the use of birth control methods, been extracted from its object of perpetuating the species and made to serve our insatiable need for entertainment.

When will we awaken to the depth of our slavery and fight off the tyranny of this bad science that so dominates our culture? Why have we allowed this bad science to so totally tyrannize our lives?

The tyranny of desires

Now back to the problem with harnessing the natural environment for the purpose of satisfying desires. A proper understanding of our relation to the environment and how we are tyrannized and destroyed by desires is of greater value than all the wealth and technology science will ever produce.

In a physical sense, we come from the environment, the environment sustains us. She is a mother to us. All that we are comes from the environment. We are part and parcel of the environment. The environment is a part of us. In reality there is no dichotomy between the environment and us.

We use all our science, pitting ourselves against nature in a desperate effort to subdue and conquer her, to bring her to her knees and make her serve us. But she is a part of us. We are a part of her. When we pit ourselves against her we are fighting against our self. When we try to conquer her we are trying to conquer our self. When we try to force her to serve us we are enslaving our self. When we fail to respect nature we fail to respect our self.

We can never have true self-respect without true respect for nature. We can never understand our own needs or how to satisfy them without understanding the needs of nature. And we can never understand nature as long as we see her as something separate from us, as something to be exploited.

We think we are alive, we are conscious, we are the subject. Nature is dead and without consciousness; she is the object. And so we set about to exploit our mother and make her our slave. You will never win a mother's love that way. We will never discover the true potential of the mother-child relationship that way.

As long as we think nature is something to be exploited to satisfy our desires we will never understand the most elementary things about the nature and purpose of life. We think our consciousness is so great we think it must be the crowning glory of the universe. It is our insensitivity that is great. It is our numbness and blindness to the consciousness in everything around us that is so great.

Nature is like an infinite ocean of consciousness. Our self-consciousness is like a few molecules of condensation in some dry seeds in the middle of the desert. If the seed of our life is ever to grow to its potential it will require much more consciousness than the meager amount that can be produced by self-consciousness.

Until we learn to connect to the consciousness of the ocean of nature around us we will not even be able to germinate. We think we are so great in our conquest of nature, and we are only dry seeds that have not even begun to sprout. One reason we fail to see our own problem is because the tyrant desire has enslaved us. We are so busy serving the tyrant desire we have no resources left to discover what is really the source of our problems.

It would be fun to write a whole book siting examples of how each chapter in this text has been hijacked from the purpose of educating and is being used to indoctrinate the students into becoming good consumers. Alas, there is no time now for that. If careful reading of this short critique does not open one to the possibility that the worldview of science is not just wrong, but that it is also dangerous, then it is unlikely that a detailed discussion of the whole text will be of much good.

Appendix One

The map of the human being can be likened to an inverted triangle. At the bottom is a point. The separate point is a child of the time-space idea. Without the time-space idea there could be no separate point. The idea that I am a separate soul, a unique individual, is dependent on the idea of the separate point. The bottom point from which the triangle originates represents this separate point on which the whole idea of the separate, individual human being rests.

Only by change can we know of time. In perfect changelessness there is no time. And without time or change there can be no space. The idea of space cannot reveal time unless there is movement or change. Rhythmic movement, vibration, or what could be called primordial sound is thus inherent in the idea of time and space. These four then arise together: time, space, individual points, and vibration.

Four is best represented by a square. The point where the triangle originates contains the symbol of the square to represent the idea complex of time, space, individual points, and vibration, upon which the separate individuality of the person rests. From this primordial base the triangle expands.

This root idea expands into the idea of polarity. Vibration takes place between poles. Everywhere we look within this idea or realm of time-space there is polarity; there is a positive and negative pole. In the atom there is positive and negative, what scientists call protons and electrons. The moon waxes and wanes. The tide goes in and out. High and low, hot and cold, fast and slow, hard and soft. So in the realm of human experience we find these poles: happy and sad, love and hate, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, attraction and repulsion. Just as the moon ever waxes and wanes so human experiences ever flows back and forth between these poles. This is the second level of expansion along the triangle of the human being into the time-space idea.

Individuality is represented by a square because it is based on the four-sided idea of time, space, the separate point, and vibration. A crescent moon represents the second level of expansion into the time-space idea because it symbolizes the constant waxing and waning of human experience between the opposite poles, which make experience in the time-space idea possible.

When the inexperienced individuality encounters pleasure and pain it forms an attraction to pleasure and repulsion to pain. It does not realize that these are inseparable poles of the same vibration. Without pain there can be no pleasure. Without hot there can be no cold. Without sorrow there can be no joy. Forming as it does an attraction to pleasure and repulsion from pain it seeks ever to increase pleasure and avoid pain. This requires energy or power. Through the use of energy it is possible to alter the duration, sequencing, or pattern of waxing and waning between pleasure and pain, between the objects of attraction and the objects of repulsion. Through the mechanism of this energy of desire or personal power the realm of the time-space idea gains in complexity.

At the first level of the triangle, the level of the square, material desire blossoms for the purpose of increasing the perceived security needs of this separate self and the needs believed to sustain the existence of this separate self. At the second level, the level of the crescent moon, the blossoms of desire and activity are to bring pleasure and the objects that are believed to bring pleasure, and to avoid pain and the objects that are believed to bring pain and suffering. On the third level, the level of fire or the inverted triangle, desire blossoms for the sake of power itself. It can be likened to the person who first earns money to meet the needs of his family, and then, when these are met, begins seeking more money for its own sake.

First power is sought to increase pleasure, reduce pain, and to provide for the security of the separate self. Then power speaks to some sleeping aspect of the inner being, it is perceived to be related to something that is missing in the experience of the self. At this level in the individual's expansion into and captivation by the time-space idea, desire blossoms for all kinds of power. There is the energy in the muscles and nerves. There is the power experienced through imagination stimulated by such things as powerful cars, powerful machinery, powerful forces of nature, and the power observed through television and movies. Then there are forms of social and political power, of authority over other people or animals.

This explosive increase in the complexity, and therefore the seaming size, of the time-space idea from the great energy or power arising from the desire to increase pleasure and avoid pain and to gain power for its own sake can best be represented by fire. Fire, in turn, is represented by a triangle with point below and base above. As the triangle expands outward and upward from the point so fire expands outward and upward from its point of origin in the wood. The triangle is an apt symbol for another reason. As the triangle has three sides, so the nature of fire is based on three ideas. First comes the solid wood from which it arises. Next it is flowing or liquid. Finally it is gaseous or expansive in nature.

As the ego, the idea of being a separate individual, continues to develop and expand. It sends its roots ever deeper into the ever increasing complexity of the time-space idea. It becomes ever more social and involved in the lives of the countless other individuals who have arisen from the idea of individuality or multiplicity born of the time-space idea complex. This social development is the fourth distinct level of involvement in the time-space idea and brings with it the development of such qualities as empathy, compassion, service, and sacrifice. Although this development involves reaching out and becoming more involved in the time-space complex; at the same time it represents a whole new development. This empathy and compassion is based on identification with other separate individuals.

The very basis of the whole time-space complex is individuality, and the first level is devoted to developing and protecting the separate individual identity. Identifying with and sacrificing for other individuals is now a movement in the opposite direction. It is working to erase the separateness of individuality. This requires adding a new aspect to our map of the human being. The fourth level becomes the base of a new triangle facing the opposite direction. At the fourth level one is both moving into much greater involvement in the time-space complex through involvement and identification with others; and by this very movement is also bridging the gap between individuals, thus moving toward a unity that is beyond or free of the bonds and chains of the time-space complex of ideas.

The fourth level in our map then rests in the middle of two interlocking triangles and its apt symbol is then two small interlocking triangles. The fifth level is the final degree of expansion into the time-space idea and thus forms the upper line of the lower large triangle. It is the increasing freedom from the time space idea made possible by the fourth level of identification with others that allows the development of the fifth degree of involvement in the time-space complex of ideas.

Increasing identification with all life brings increasing freedom from the deafening demands and blinding addictions of the first three levels of development into the time-space idea. This allows the dawning of an increasing understanding of the nature of the universe and its bases in the time-space complex of ideas. A black egg represents this fifth level, the world of ideas and understanding. In the fifth level the understanding develops that the whole universe is hatched from the egg of the world of ideas. The egg is black to represent emptiness because the universe has no objective existence but exists only as a development of the ideas that are realized in the development of the fifth level.

To avoid confusion the point must be made of the difference here between thoughts and ideas. Thoughts are little, ephemeral bursts of consciousness usually sparked by contact with the sense ideas. Ideas are the stable realities behind the appearances in the phenomenal universe. Awareness of ideas generally precludes the activity of thought. The unfortunate marriage of science to thought hijacks it from any direct purpose or ability to understand nature.

The next level in the development of the human being no longer involves any kind of greater involvement into the confines of the time-space play of ideas and so in the map is above the inverted triangle. In this aspect of the person, having already grasped the ideas that create the apparent separation between souls, she realizes or experiences all life as the same continuous life of her self regardless of the idea of the form it is associated with through the play of ideas in the time-space complex. An apt symbol for this level is a white sphere with two petals or wings. The two petals represent the two poles merging in the sphere of unity. White is the union of all colors and a further symbol of unity. Alternately the two wings represent the embracing of all life.

The idea of being a separate individuality cannot be completely relinquished or neutralized if there remains some hope that is not satisfied, some expectation that is not fulfilled. The seventh and last transitional stage before total freedom from the time-space play of ideas could be called the seventh heaven, for here one finds the satisfaction of all desires and the peace of perfect fulfillment.

Finally comes complete realization of the true nature of the Self in the point at the top of the second triangle where the time-space complex of ideas no longer exists and one is totally freed from bondage to laws and limitations within the ideas of time, space, and causality. This is the Reality. Here is freedom. Here is the source of all value and meaning. The point at the bottom of the first triangle is the basis of individuality, of expression. The point at the top of the second triangle is the basis of life, of being. When a person incorporates this life, this transcendental being, into her consciousness everything becomes sacred, all expressions become saturated with divinity. Everything has meaning when one connects with this spiritual dimension of the human universe.

This is the big picture. With this map of the human being in mind it is now possible to look objectively at science, its nature, and scope.


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