New (Scientific) Definition of Spiritual

Carl Sagan presented an interesting re-defining of “spirit” and “spiritual.”

Though I’m pretty close to letting go of both these slippery terms, Sagan offers an intriguing way through.

“In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe.  The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. . .

‘Spirit’ comes from the Latin word ‘to breathe.’  What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin.  Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word ‘spiritual’ that we are talking of anything other than matter. . .or anything outside the realm of science.  On occasion, I will feel free to use the word.  Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.  When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. . . .  The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”


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