Proceeding from the last edition, we will this week be combining Science and Philosophy for the fact that followers of this discourse are anxious about what one has to offer on Religion and Spirituality.
I can only plead for understanding because if we don’t consider what we have been discussing as necessary, we wouldn’t be wasting time on them. Notwithstanding, I am unwavering with the conviction that we must know a bit of everything to free ourselves of ignorance. Furthermore, it is trite that knowledge is neither wasted nor lost.
I am accordingly starting off with Science, which could be defined as: “An intellectual, practical activity embracing systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world, through observation and experiment.”
Plainly, this definition states that science is the study of the external world. Science therefore comes into purview because man is made of the body, mind and soul.
Science being of externalities attempts to cushion our stay in this world, by making life comfortable for mankind, for us to have a healthy body, housing a healthy mind and a divine soul. It is instructive that we can’t really think of worshipping God if our body is unhealthy or ravaged by disease.
Similarly, we must make our body to always be conducive for the soul to inhabit. Once our body becomes enervated by ill health or old age, the soul will find it not conducive and will invariably depart the body. This is what generally happens during the state when we regard the body as dead. This brief explanation should suffice for the reason why science fits into the discourse for the liberation of our soul.
Science, an instrument of the intellect, has stopped at nothing in making the world our ideal Utopia. We must give kudos to countless astounding feats brought about by Science. The only thing science has not been able to create is human being. No doubt about it, science has tried to make the ambience more comfortable to the world by means of artificial contraptions.
At the base of all scientific achievements is MATHEMATICS. Hardly do we have any scientific invention that is completely devoid of mathematics. We must therefore acknowledge the earliest mathematicians from Archimedes (287-212 BC), Euclid (325 BC -265 BC) and of course Pythagoras (570-495 BC), who was most famous for his concept of geometry, pythagorean theorem of turning the five regular solids, the theory of the proportions, the sphericity of the Earth and the identifying of the morning and evening stars as the Venus.
Upon the foundation laid by those worldly acclaimed mathematicians, we must yield the floor to Hypocrate, born 460 BC in Greece. He was regarded as the greatest physician of his time, who based his medical prowess on observations and acute study of human anatomy.
Next was Charles Babbage who was considered to be the father of computing after his concept and later the invention of Analytical engine in 1837.
Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was widely acknowledged to be the father of modern aeronautics. Following Cayley were Wilbur Wright (1871-1948) and his senior brother Orville Wright. The duo were recorded with the feat of flying in 1903 inside Kitty Hawks, their first powered aircraft that flew for 52 seconds and covered a distance of 852 feet. Ever since, the world has considerably developed on aerodynamics.
Michael Faraday, a self taught scientist, excelled in chemistry and physics to become one of the foremost influential thinkers in history. He was called father of electricity along with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Faraday discovered laws of electromagnetism, invented the first electric motor and built the first electric generator-paving the way for our mechanised age.
Guglielmo Marconi invented radio and television by adapting the newly discovered phenomenon of radio waves to telecommunication. He originated the first wireless telegraphy system using his adaptation.
Karl Benz, born 1844 in the South of Germany, was credited for having invented a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine that worked as modern day cars do, although some earlier inventors had experimented on steam powered vehicles as far back as 1700. Karl Benz took the shine of them all. Henry Ford came much more later in 1896 with a quadricycle with buggy frame on four bicycle wheels.
We cannot acknowledge the greatest scientists in the world without mentioning Albert Einstein (1879-1956), Einstein was a theoretical physicist cum philosopher who propounded a lot of theories and chiefly among them is: “Two things are infinite, Universe and human stupidity; I am not sure of the universe.”
Most of what we are enjoying in the world today were brought about by Albert Einstein. He laid the scientific foundation for paper towels, lasers and other products. Einstein was particularly famous for devising his theory of relativity, which revolutionised our understanding of space, time, gravity and the universe.
One thing that stands out Science is the humbling of our self-importance. How could we continue to be haughty when science has revealed that the Universe is about 15 billion years old, and encompassing over 200 billions of galaxies and several trillions of planets, while our earth is a mere speck in the creation?
If the earth is nothing but a speck, what would an overweening individual among over 7.5 billions of humans populating the earth be then?
In effect: Our self importance doesn’t stretch beyond the length of our nose. The world had been here for eons of time before we arrived unto it. It is going on now that we are in it and it will continue to go on after we have departed. We are so inconsequential that the world wouldn’t miss a mingy fraction of its heartbeat when we shed the mortal coil.
We can go on and on. I have introduced this brief to indicate what man has achieved with science. Science, although beneficial and has considerably improved our stay in the earthly field, some argued it has moved us further away from the Creator.
We can’t frown much at such perception because evidence abounds to support the assumption. The addictions of Science are many. Worse of them all is the Information Technology. At times, we wonder how the world survived without IT, but today it is setting families apart from each other. Children are attached to their mobile phones, while couples don’t have time for early night conjugal duty anymore because of obsession with the TV. Women particularly watch Indian movies all day and up till the wee hours these days. So much for Science!
It would amount to an injustice to discuss philosophy without mentioning Prodisco (465-395 BC), who was of the first generation of Sophists. He actually inducted Socrates into Philosophy. Socrates was known to have pronounced the “music of the spheres” in reference to the creative Word of God. His legacy was turning critical thoughts towards humanity. His theories about the soul and his virtue were lasting contributions to humanity.
In the same vein, we had Aristotle who was a disciple of Plato. Aristotle repudiated to a large extent what was taught by Plato and made pioneering contributions to the fields of philosophy and science.
Charles Darwin propounded the theory of the biological evolution and according to him, all species of organisms arise and develop through natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual ability to compete, survive and reproduce. From Darwin’s theory, Herbert Spencer coined the phrase: “Survival of the fittest.”
We must also appreciate great philosophers like Galileo, Issac Newton, Francis Bacon, Renes Descartes and a host of others too numerous to be listed in this précis.
Still and all, from Germany we encountered Immanuel Kant who was honest to admit that absolute reality could never be known through pure reason. According to Kant, what we know by means of intellect is phenomena. He propounded that causation, time, space, substantiality, uniformity of nature – all are merely categories of the mind’s sensibilities and are, so far, subjective. Thus, Kant admits in so many words that pure philosophy can never find God or any other transcendent entity.
Hagel, the father of modern idealism, states clearly that reality belongs only to the whole. Hagel’s theory has also been set aside by the present day theory of new realism, advanced by philosophers like Russell who affirms that though things are not what they seem to be, they are not unreal as idealists hold, but real. Each one of them has distinct existence.
We cannot discuss all the theorems of the world’s acclaimed Philosophers in details. Even if we did, the bottom line shall remain that Philosophers have continued to contradict each other. What was true yesterday has become false today and may still change tomorrow
To sum up, the solutions offered so far by philosophy are unsatisfactory and, as such, philosophy can not give us a sure knowledge that is not subject to change.
The challenge has to do with the fact that the organ of philosophy is the intellect, which is a variable thing that changes its verdict with time and place, with mood and temper, with physical conditions and states, with environment, age and experience.
Further to all these, there are two ways of reasoning. They are deductive and inductive. The former gives no new knowledge, while the conclusions of the latter will ever remain uncertain and unreliable.
To wrap up on the findings on Philosophy, we must gives big kudos to the great Philosophers that have transversed the world. If anything, they have tried to give meaning to the world of phenomena. By this, they deserve our commendations for trying to make this world a better place. The drawback of philosophy is that the true picture of everything is completely beyond the Philosophers and we can’t blame them for such limitation. The maxim that comes handy on this shortcoming is: Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet. In other words, no one can give what he doesn’t possess.
Against this backdrop, it is comfortable to insist that as long as we remain at the level of the intellect, we cannot get over the fundamental duality of psychology. Our task is to rise above the plane of intellect and know the reality by becoming the Reality ourselves, if possible. What is clear and certain is: With the intellect instrument of Philosophy we can never discover absolute Reality.
This standpoint doesn’t deprecate the achievement of Philosophers. With philosophy, man has been induced to use his thinking faculty to great lengths. Bravo to our Philosophers dead and living. They have succeeded in developing the centrifugal tendency of the mind exponentially. This has given rise to great achievements of science, of hypnotism and all other worldly wonders, which are all within the powers of the mind.
Beyond the things of the external world, mind hits a brick wall thus: Philosophy takes a bow. What is needed to free ourselves from the shackles of the Negative Power whom Christ referred to as the Prince of the world, is the soul communion with the Overlord: The Supreme Being. This is far beyond the scope of reasoning, which is at the base of all mathematical thesis and philosophical postulations.
Would Religions fare better than Philosophy? The answer is for the readers to answer as we spread out the facts sheet on what religions across the world set out to achieve for mankind, beginning from next week.
. Aare Oyefeso is a businessman and philosopher based in Lagos, Nigeria.