Untestable hypothesis

Off round the blogs again, this time to Galileo Unchained, a Rationalist site. When I said I have certain experiences which might be explained supernaturally, a commenter replied,

 But they might ALSO be interpreted naturally, right? And is that what you prefer to do, or do you get kind of a thrill out of thinking you’ve somehow plugged into the great unknown spiritual realm? Or is it just possible that you’re willing to shrug and say “Who knows? Hard to tell.”

Another useful quote from the comments here is:

“Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

 —Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptic Society

A good variation on the Curse of Intelligence: clever people can make all sorts of screwed up ways of being in the world almost work, so that we do not improve on them.

At one point, I would have used Scott Peck’s four stage theory of personal growth to think, “I am more mature than they”- Rationalism is his third stage, explaining everything, and Mysticism is his fourth, involving inter alia living with things as they are without needing Classifications and Understanding. But then I found the wonderful Rationalist site Less Wrong, where much of the Maturity stuff I was taking in was espoused on a Rationalist basis. Oh well.

I could impute worse motives than thrill-seeking to myself, for imagining myself plugged into the Spiritual Realm. Hucksterism and charlatanry: I know, really, that there is no “spiritual” explanation for my Healing, and so I wilfully suppress that knowledge so that I can, in the long run, make money from it.

I know that God and Spirit is the Untestable hypothesis, which can be used to explain everything from the movement of the planets in the sky to the movement of the human heart, until a better explanation becomes available. And yet, I have my experiences, which are beautiful, and it feels to me possible that Spirit/ Lifeforce/ Whatever is involved. So I retain the possibility in my mind, along with the possibility that there is no God, and me waving my arms about in a particular way is something people might be willing to pay for.

And- I think that explaining things and distinguishing things and describing things and causal links with language is extremely important and can go a long way- and when I can go no further with that, I have to relate and perceive, and be open to possibility and different perception. And it is tempting to classify and describe when one does not have the knowledge to do so accurately, yet always necessary to push the boundaries of what is describable. Though I think many Rationalists realise this too.

3 thoughts on “Untestable hypothesis

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