How Mystics and Scientists differ from Priests

For both the mystic and the scientist, experience matters more than belief; but for the priest — well, he thinks he’s accomplished something when he believes in God.

4 thoughts on “How Mystics and Scientists differ from Priests

  1. Very nice quote.
    I have a question though.
    It seems to me that the majority of scientists operate like priests. They learnt the rules young and then trundle along in the familiar paradigm for the remainder of their time.
    Am I mistaken?
    I think many of those scientists who are the source of great leaps might be labelled mystics.

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  2. Thanks, Stephen.

    “It seems to me that the majority of scientists operate like priests. They learnt the rules young and then trundle along in the familiar paradigm for the remainder of their time. Am I mistaken?”

    I don’t know, Stephen. I haven’t seen any studies on that subject, and I would not trust my personal impressions because they are almost certainly biased.

    “I think many of those scientists who are the source of great leaps might be labelled mystics.”

    I myself would not call someone a mystic merely because they had made “a great intellectual leap”. Great intellectual leaps are impressive, but they are not what I would call mystical experiences. But maybe that’s just me.

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  3. How do you “experience” particle physics? Answer: You don’t. Elementary particles do not, for us, exist in any sense that we could sense them. Your “experience” of patterns causes you to assume a generality of physical phenomena, and this assumptions conditions your “experience” of the laboratory results that support one generalization over another, and at base a theory is simply a generalization about the world. Read Woolgar, Kuhn (Structure of Scientific blah blah blah), Bloor, or Feyerabend (3 Dialogues on Knowledge): You will discover afresh what your heart already knows, that scientists may as well wear cowls and chant from their prayerbooks. Even Plato knew this: Concept is prior to percept.

    The only true empiricists are mystics, until some goofball scientist tries to organize a religion around their experience.

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