Monday, August 15, 2005

The Church of Coincidence

I realize that when someone talks to a "new age" person like me, they must get frustrated with my answers to the big questions.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" they ask me.
"Because it's not about being good, it's about being better," I answer.

"Do we have free will or is God in control of everything?"
"Our lives are programmed, but we have the free will to jump to the next higher dimension anytime we want, by doing things that are positive and uncomfortable."

You can see what I mean. I'm a frustrating person to have these discussions with.

But even more frustrating is a discussion with a reductionist. I use the reductionist term to apply to someone who feels that science conquers all, that religion and spirituality will eventually be explained away using modern science.

Technically, a reductionist is someone who feels that anything can be explained by taking it apart. You can see how a machine works by taking it apart into its components and analyzing it, then putting it back together. (True.) You can see how the human body works by taking it apart and analyzing each component and system and then you'll understand it fully. (False.)

Reductionists were dealt a serious blow by the discovery of quantum mechanics in the early 1900s. I know several reductionists who still do not believe the well-known facts of quantum psychics to this day.

Let's play "Ask a reductionist:"

Question: "Why did I get cancer?"
Answer: "Because you smoked and the tar from the cigarettes caused a problem in the DNA of your lung cells which caused cancer."
Follow-up Question: "But why me?"
Answer: "Coincidence!"

Any line of questioning with a reductionist will eventually end here. Now, in medical science, we can add one more step before the "Coincidence!" line comes up. The reductionist will say "Genetics!" and then when you ask why you got these particular genes he'll be right back to "Coincidence!"

I heard Andrew Weil say he got into an argument with a reductionist medical doctor who said that he disliked holistic health because "It seems like it always comes done to the same advice --- Breathe!" (Which ain't a half-bad thing.)

For reductionists, though, it means worshipping at the church of Our Lady of Coincidence. No reductionist has an answer for "Why?" anything without using their favorite crutch --- "Coincidence!"

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