Appendix - World view differences

In the chapter “Philosophical base of religion vs. Practical implementation” I argued that philosophical base of religions has little to do with how religious institutions function, and how the people who rally around those institutions behave. There is a remarkable similarity between the attitudes of different religious institutions towards matters of governance. For example almost all religious institutions oppose abortion, but either support or silent about capital punishment. If we try to trace these attitudes towards the core philosophy of different religions, we’ll figure out that these are not really based on religious beliefs, but they are typical to “conservative institutions” of any kind.

 

In private, (in public, now that I stated it here) I dismiss any philosophical tangents along the core-philosophy of religion, as “intellectual chewing gum” that feel good to chew on but has no other useful outcome. However, in a scholarly forum, I cannot use my chewing gum argument and bail out. I thought it is necessary to acknowledge the existence of counter arguments based on worldviews that are different from that of mine.

 

I do understand that my arguments are not absolute, but relative to the knowledge system and the worldview within which I operate. The concept of “separation” is often attributed to the worldview of classical physics (pre-quantum), where the methodology of study is to reduce complex systems to the interactions of its constituents. This is perhaps the only methodology available to the science until the turn of the 20th century. With the advent of quantum theory -and specifically the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics- the scientific worldview changed! The quantum theory dictates that we cannot separate the observer and the observed and treat them as separate systems. They are part of the same system, and every observed phenomenon is influenced by the act of observation. At the sub-atomic level, this concept has remarkable and non-intuitive implications, as demonstrated by the famous “double-slit” experiment. In the double-slit experiment, the behavior of a subatomic particle (like an electron) tends to vary in a remarkable manner when not being observed vs. when being observed. The results of this experiment shook the very base of classical notions such as "particles", "waves", "location", and "movement from one place to another".

 

Despite the implication of quantum theory, when science is taught in classroom, students are forced to think within the classical framework and use the classical methodology of reducing complex systems to the interactions of its constituents. In Sri Lanka, the likes of Professor Nalin De Silva, has been very vocal critiques of the “Sri Lankan intellectuals” who were taught within Cartesian spatio-temporal worldview and who does not seem to be aware of any other worldviews outside of it.

 

While acknowledging and commending the good old professor De Silva for his contributions to the Sri Lankan intellectual discourse; I have my concerns about the tendency of the professor and his disciples to label things “eastern” / “western” or “Judeo-Christian” /”Buddhist’ and oversimplify the complex issues (or overcomplicate simple issue,, depending on how you look at it); and by doing so contradicting their own stances based on their own teaching. (Please find more on this topic, posted by a fellow secularist here)

 

I am not going in to details as to why I think the concept of “separation” as discussed in this article cannot be dismissed as a rhetoric base on outdated Newtonian classical mechanics. I just like to acknowledge the existence of different worldviews, and the fact that my arguments are relative to the worldview that I entertain, and the knowledge system that I care for, and then move on.


The methodology of separation and methodology of wholeness has to complement each other. The extreme adherence to any one of these is not going to help us. The intuition driven wholeness approach, and rationality driven separation, are two methodologies we unconsciously use in our daily lives. When a newborn baby cries, mother takes quick intuitive decisions rather than analyzing the situation, which is the most appropriate methodology in that situation. The day-to-day moral decisions that we make are mostly based on intuition, rather than analysis. The practitioners of traditional medicine use a mix of analysis and intuition. Practitioners of scientific (western?) medicine are supposed to use analysis mostly, but they also tend resort to intuition based on the scenario (which is perfectly acceptable). However, I have seen examples of MBBS medical doctors who overuse intuition (due to their cultural upbringing) when they should actually use analyses. For example the environment factors that influence a patient can be temperature, humidity and air quality. Western medicine suggests that we isolate and understand the influences of these elements separately. However, in our culture, elders often boil down all these three factors to just one vague “Air” element. An MBBS doctor who heavily influenced by the culture is at a disadvantage here being unable to isolate an incident of ‘pollen allergy’ affecting a patient.

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