Explanation and Experience

‘Science without Religion is lame. Religion without Science is blind.’

~Albert Einstein

The concepts old Albert was mentioning here go deeper than what is traditionally viewed as ‘Science’ and ‘Religion.’ He meant more than the formal intellectual honesty, the encyclopedia of knowledge, and the controlled experimentation achieved through Scientific inquiry. And he also meant more than the formal dogmatic structure, the organized institution, and the collective belief story of Religious perspective.

Albert may have been commenting on the complementary enrichment of life granted by intuition and theory taken together. Or in other words, experience and explanation.

Contrary to what many believe, intuition is constrained; to immediate experience, to the senses that feed it, to subjective memory. It is prone to the errors that afflict an imperfect brain.  And these errors can cement themselves as beliefs, recurrently causing frustration and struggle.

Someone with a purely intuitive view of the world is vulnerable to the insistence of peers, authority, and culture. This life lacks the foundation of knowledge on which critical thought, and thus accurate estimation, depends.

In this way experience is blind.

On the other hand, a life steeped in Science is dull. Explanation alone is cold. The world of facts adds little flavor to life. Without corresponding experience, theory stagnates idly and isolated in the brain. At best these unused truths languish as bits of quaint trivia, at worst; nuggets of wasted focus.

The privileged few who make it through higher Science education are not automatically bestowed the keys to a fully enriched life. Oftentimes, the cultivation of their intellectual minds diverts them from cultivating the softer, intuitive skills of emotional intelligence and social aptitude.

Also, Science graduates are often swept into the high-paying jobs for which they earned their degrees. All their knowledge finds its purpose in vocational aspirations, not intrinsic perspective. Opposite their intuitive counterparts, many of them never have the opportunity to develop [invaluable skills] never seen on a resume. Many of them never have the opportunity to experience the wonderful, crazy, diverse madness of the world, nor how beautifully and elegantly just a few learned principles weave everything together.

In this way, explanation is boring.

But explanation and experience combined? Wow.

Each feeds the other, together augmenting quality of life beyond estimation. Experience gives explanation purpose. Explanation gives experience conviction. No strait, no qualm, no abhorrence within the human condition can withstand this pair united. Self-mastery can be achieved through them. Acceptance of tragedy, and appreciation of comedy, are fostered by them. Indeed to employ these two dutifully is to become fully human.

Thank you for reading.

-C

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