Science, Religion and Consciousness Oh My!
The scientific revolution has changed humanity in many ways. Advancements made by science in fields such as medicine and technology has enabled us to extend the quality of our lives. However, because of it’s justified and rigorous adherence to the scientific method¹, ancient knowledge pertaining to experience and consciousness have been marginalized and relegated to the sidelines of scientific discourse. Specifically religion whose function in part was to direct, train and systematically expand not only our individual consciousness but our collective consciousness. Only now is science beginning to tackle the question of consciousness. By combining empirical and experiential data, science is making inroads into this realm. The exploration of consciousness is an interdisciplinary field consisting artificial intelligence, psychology, neurophysiology and many more. To this list, religion viewed through the lens of a cultural anthropologist should constitute an important sub field in the scientific exploration of consciousness. Practices and traditions that have co-evolved with humanity hold the key to expanding not only our understanding of consciousness but consciousness itself.
¹Experiential data is subjective in nature and the scientific method mandates objective means of measuring experimental data. However by combining empirical data such as from fMRI and subjective data such as asking what the subject was thinking during a fMRI session, it becomes possible to conduct experiments in an objective manner that is consistent with the scientific methodology.