A ‘spirituality’ query

I recently got a short email interview on the subject of science and spirituality. Now I should warn you: “spirituality” is one of those words that sets my teeth on edge and triggers a reflexive reach for my kukri. It’s an empty buzzword that some people use as a placeholder for “deep feelings of connectedness to the universe”, but that I read as “mindless blithering; brains on the fritz”, so I respond to questions like that with an immediate rejection of the premise. The writer seemed like a nice person, though, and the questions are well-intentioned, so after barking out my answers I thought maybe the gang here would like to take a stab (or a slash, or a poke, or a bludgeon) at them, too. Go ahead, answer them yourselves in the comments, or on your own blog.

1.) Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?
2.) We hear time and time again of the disputes between the scientific and religious communities, what is your response to the phenomenon of scientists exploring their own spirituality?
3.) Dr. Charles T. Tart established an online journal dedicated to scientists who wish to share their own personal transcendent experiences in confidence, known as TASTE. Many feel that they would be shunned by the scientific community if they shared their experiences with their colleagues, are you surprised by this?
4.) Do you feel that a scientist can be spiritual? Why is this?
5.) What do you say to some scientists who claim that a strong sense of spirituality and morality are essential in your line of work?
6.) Do you think that this phenomenon could pose a threat to the scientific community, when one considers the current religious climate in the U.S?
7.) Finally, have you ever had an experience that you could not scientifically explain? If so, what was it?

I’ve put my answers below the fold. Warning: there is a little profanity (I told you that ‘spirituality’ irritates me.)

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Astonishing weirdness

The IDists under Dembski have set up this truly cringeworthy site called “Overwhelming Evidence” that caters to the younger set—and if you think the pronouncements of the mature followers of the Blessed Designer are batty, you ought to read what the characters on that site write. I find myself running away, my fragile sensibilities fried, but it looks like Matt of Pooflingers Anonymous is made of sterner stuff. For instance, I found it nearly impossible to read the praise of Kazmer Ujvarosy, who seems to be operating on a wavelength of about 0.9 Timecubes. This is a guy who thinks ID is the secret to discovering the Higgs boson, tapping vacuum energy to power our space vehicles, and giving us mental telepathy, as defined in the Bible.

We’ll be able to read the minds of others, just as Elijah was able to read the mind of the king of Syria, and tell the king of Israel the words Syria’s king spoke in the privacy of his bedchamber (see 2 Kings 6:8-23). This form of ESPionage will make the traditional methods of intelligence gathering obsolete.

Matt was able to actually read the whole thing and still comment cogently on it. Really, you’ve got to check it out. It’s primo wackiness.

Listen and be disillusioned

You can now download the interview by Karl Mogel of Ken Miller and me. You’ll want to listen to it first of all for 1) Ken Miller, 2) the music I suggested, and lastly and leastly, 3) me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with Miller’s explanation of his comments in Kansas against atheists—it would help if he could make a defense without relying on straw-man mischaracterizations of prominent atheists. The sound track is Roger Waters’ music for “The Body”, which has a nice biological theme, but also makes a sneaky dig at Intelligent Design creationism—it’s got fart sounds in it.

Now there is another problem that came up. As usual, whenever I slither out into the real world and actually meet people or talk to them, I get these comments: “You sound so mellow.” “You seem to be a nice guy.” “You’re like…a college professor.” “You sound wimpy.” It’s terrible. I need an image makeover. I’m looking for suggestions, and here are a few ideas:

  • Hire James Earl Jones to dub over everything I say.
  • Eyepatch. Pegleg. Hook. Parrot.
  • Get tattoos, wear black leather, arrive for appointments on a Harley.
  • Develop maniacal laugh, cackle horribly at inappropriate times, acquire reputation for unpredictability.
  • Vomit blood occasionally.
  • Get elocution lessons from Lewis Black.