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Science and scientists: Transitioning to a new paradigm
Eden Wang, Ph.D
Science is an art. It is a creative process for understanding the truth and laws that govern the human body, life, and the universe. Thus, the knowledge we gain through science is powerful, and this makes some scientists very proud. They equate knowledge with money, power, and fame, using and abusing science to bring in immediate profits to meet our ever-increasing human needs. Indeed, the boundary between science and technology has blurred. As scientists try to outsmart nature, they send a misleading message to the public that they can make magic bullets to conquer all forms of infections and diseases.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, are scientists who humbly look within and gasp with awe at the profound laws in this universe. For them, science is not a way to gather knowledge and manipulate nature, but instead is an art form through which knowledge is turned into song from the depths of one’s mind and heart. It is humbleness that allows them to recognize the limitations of any new knowledge gained; and it is the realization of these limitations that allows them to make continued breakthroughs in establishing new paradigms and in welcoming others to break these paradigms.
Many old paradigms in science are now being challenged, but the birth of new paradigms is nonetheless experiencing much difficulty. Old paradigms exist on the foundation of separated and isolated systems. The world is first separated into the physical and the spiritual world. The study of the physical world is separated into different schools, different fields, different areas, and different specific physical subjects at different levels. The study of the spiritual world is also separated into different religions, different philosophies, and different practices. The studies of the physical world and the spiritual world are viewed as totally incompatible.
However, the science of living phenomena, such as biology and medicine, is harder and harder to keep within the boundaries of either pure physical or pure spiritual aspects of living phenomena, especially those of human beings. Nobody can deny the experience of the body, the mind, and the spirit. Nobody can deny the intimate connection between the body and the mind. Biology is making steady progress to reveal the phenomena of life at more and more microscopic levels, which now further confirms the interaction between mind and body, even at the molecular level. The practices of medicine also demonstrate more and more clearly the power of one’s mind on the healing and disease of a human body. The surprisingly high contributions of placebo effects to known healing powers behind some so-called miracle drugs, the costly failure of pure chemical compounds in treating complex diseases (cardiovascular, metabolic, auto-immune, and cancer), the apparent link between human behavior and these complex diseases, the apparent link between lifestyles deeply colored by human morality, and several forms of vicious microorganism-based human diseases all call for a more holistic approach to study life’s phenomena. Here, the knowledge gained from studying one molecule, one pathway, one type of cell, one organ, or one body in separated systems, time, and space will be seriously challenged. The many old paradigms established from separate systems will be challenged. Fundamentally, the scientists whose minds are used to thinking within these separated systems will be challenged, and the systems that help to maintain and promote the separation of scientists in their isolated fields will be challenged.
Facing challenges and new territories, the most common human response is fear – the fear of losing fame, money, and power that has come together with the establishment of an old paradigm, the fear of losing a sense of intellectual superiority. Out of fear, some scientists retreat from truth about themselves and about the world. In seeking an easy way out, some scientists hold onto the old paradigms and treat the new paradigms with animosity. In self-protection of fame established from an old paradigm, some act without integrity.
But the magnificent force of the world seeks its own manifestations. No matter how one chooses to face such a force, the force will find a way. True scientists are in a unique position to be so closely in touch with such a force. With the humble spirit of one who seeks truth, the upcoming challenges become a blissful ride to a new world.
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