S is for Science and Spirituality
Also Symbiosis and Significance
S = Science, Study and Discovery, the Scientific Method.
See also: Scientific Method and Knowing how to Know
sci·ence (sīʹəns) noun
Abbr. sc., sci.
1. a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena. c. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
2. Methodological activity, discipline, or study: I’ve got packing a suitcase down to a science.
3. An activity that appears to require study and method: the science of purchasing.
4. Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.
5. Science Christian Science.
[Middle English, knowledge, learning, from Old French, from Latin scientia, from sciēns, scient- present participle of scīre, to know.]
Science (Latin scientia, from scire,”to know”), term used to denote systematized knowledge in any field, but applied usually to the organization of objectively verifiable sense experience. The pursuit of knowledge in this context is known as pure science, to distinguish it from applied science, which is the search for practical uses of scientific knowledge, and from technology, through which applications are realized.
Origins of Science
Efforts to systematize knowledge can be traced to prehistoric times. The oldest written records of protoscientific investigations come from Mesopotamian cultures; lists of astronomical observations, chemical substances, and disease symptoms, as well as a variety of mathematical tables, were inscribed in cuneiform characters on clay tablets. Ancient papyrus documents have been discovered in the Nile Valley, containing information on the treatment of wounds, on the distribution of bread and beer, and on finding the volume of a portion of a pyramid.
Rise of Scientific Theory
Among the first Greek scholars to seek the fundamental causes of natural phenomena was the philosopher Thales, in the 6th century BC. The mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras established a movement in which mathematics became a discipline fundamental to scientific investigation. At the Academy of Plato, deductive reasoning (see Deduction) and mathematical representation were emphasized; at the Lyceum of Aristotle, inductive reasoning and qualitative description were stressed. The interplay between these two approaches to science has led to most subsequent advances (see Logic).
During the so-called Hellenistic Age, foundations were laid for mechanics and hydrostatics, botany, trigonometry, and anatomy and physiology. In the 2nd century AD the geocentric (earth-centered) system, advanced by the astronomer Ptolemy, and the medical works of the physician and philosopher Galen became standard scientific treatises.
Medieval and Renaissance Science
During the 13th century, Chinese innovations led to European processes for manufacturing paper and gunpowder, and the use of printing and the mariner’s compass. In 1543 the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus revolutionized astronomy, and Belgian anatomist Andreas Vesalius corrected and modernized the anatomical teachings of Galen. Vesalius’s work led to the discovery of the circulation of the blood.
Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo led the development of modern scientific methods by systematic verification through planned experiments, using new instruments such as the telescope, the microscope, and the thermometer. In 1687 English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton published his universal law of gravitation. The invention of calculus led to today’s sophisticated level of science and mathematics.
Confidence in the scientific attitude inspired the so-called Age of Enlightenment. Scientific developments during the 18th century paved the way for some broad generalizations in science, including the atomic theory of matter, theories of electromagnetism, and the law of the conservation of energy (see Electromagnetic Radiation; Energy; Thermodynamics). Charles Darwin put forth evolution, the most comprehensive biological theory of the time. But as biology became more firmly based, physics was shaken by the consequences of quantum theory and relativity.
Throughout history, scientific knowledge has been transmitted chiefly through written documents. Since the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century) the fostering of scientific activity has been shared by universities and scientific societies. Governmental support of science led to the founding of the Royal Society of London (1662) and the Académie des Sciences de Paris (1666). During the 18th century academies of science, many of which publish journals, were established by other leading nations. Since the late 19th century, communication among scientists has been facilitated by the establishment of international organizations. The unions hold international congresses every few years, the transactions of which are usually published. Numerous major industrial firms also have research departments, some of which regularly publish accounts of their work.
Fields of Science
The pure natural sciences are generally divided into the physical sciences and the biological sciences, both of which can be subdivided. The principal physical sciences are physics, astronomy, chemistry, and geology; the chief biological sciences are botany and zoology. All classifications of the pure sciences, however, are arbitrary. In the formulations of general scientific laws, interlocking relationships among the sciences are recognized. These interrelationships are considered responsible for much of the progress today in several specialized fields of research, such as molecular biology and genetics. Several interdisciplinary sciences, such as biochemistry, have arisen. Advances can be the result of research by teams of specialists representing different sciences, both pure and applied.
scientific method (sĪ´ən-tĭfʹĭk mĕthʹəd) noun
The principles and empirical processes of discovery and demonstration considered characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation, generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual’s inner life; spiritual experience includes that of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.
Traditionally, many religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience. Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to a broader view of spirituality. The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed; compare James‘ 1902 lectures on the “Varieties of Religious Experience”.
Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others:22, aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world, without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being. Spiritual practices such as mindfulness and meditation can be experienced as beneficial or even necessary for human fulfillment without any supernatural interpretation or explanation. Spirituality in this context may be a matter of nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that everything in the universe is mutually dependent; this stance has much in common with some versions of Buddhist spirituality. A modern definition is as follows:
“Spirituality exists wherever we struggle with the issues of how our lives fit into the greater scheme of things. This is true when our questions never give way to specific answers or give rise to specific practices such as prayer or meditation. We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is “spiritual” when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life.”
Symbiosis (from Ancient Greek σύν “together” and βίωσις “living“) is close and often long-term interaction between different biological species. In 1877, Bennett used the word symbiosis (which previously had been used of people living together in community) to describe the mutualistic relationship in lichens. In 1879, by the German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary, defined it as “the living together of unlike organisms.”
The definition of symbiosis is controversial among scientists. Some believe symbiosis should only refer to persistent mutualisms, while others believe it should apply to any types of persistent biological interactions (i.e. mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic).
Some symbiotic relationships are obligate, meaning that both symbionts entirely depend on each other for survival. For example, many lichens consist of fungal and photosynthetic symbionts that cannot live on their own. Others are facultative, meaning that they can, but do not have to live with the other organism.
Symbiotic relationships include those associations in which one organism lives on another (ectosymbiosis, such as mistletoe), or where one partner lives inside the other (endosymbiosis, such as lactobacilli and other bacteria in humans or zooxanthelles in corals).