It is scarcely appreciated that much of scientific knowledge is also occult!
|Summary: Occult knowledge is a taboo in scientific domain, having disreputable association with knowledge of Supernatural (unreal). But it is hardly realized by the majority that much of scientific knowledge is also occult knowledge even if it strictly pertains to nature and its phenomena. Therefore, the desired course of action is to evolve mental faculty to differentiate occult knowledge about natural phenomena from occult knowledge about supernatural (unreal) phenomena rather than wrongly rejecting any piece of knowledge by labeling it as ‘occult’.
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to "knowledge of the hidden". The terms esoteric and arcane can have a very similar meaning, and the three terms are often interchangeable. The word has many uses in the English language, popularly meaning "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to as science. By the eighteenth century unorthodox religious, scientific and philosophical concerns were well defined as 'occult', inasmuch as they lay on the outermost fringe of accepted forms of knowledge and discourse." This position holds good even today.
In accordance with literal meaning of the word ‘occult’, all knowledge that is not amenable to direct sensory perception is classifiable as ‘occult’. But by this yardstick the word ‘occult’ has wide connotations. It embraces not only knowledge of the ‘supernatural’ or unreal but also knowledge of the ‘natural’ provided it is not amenable to direct sensory perception. Therefore it embraces not only direct or perceivable truth about natural phenomena but also indirect or non-perceivable truth about natural phenomena and truth about natural phenomena perceivable only with the help of instruments.
Each and every thing and event in nature has indirect truth or occult associated with it. Gross description of natural things and events is often insufficient. Almost nothing can be completely known by mere gross narration and description. Quite often, it is the hidden knowledge that carries much greater significance than the knowledge gained by direct sensory perception.
In information technology, back end of each and every web page carries much more significance than the front end. So, undoubtedly front end is significant but it is the back end that is vital. Similarly invisible Meta tags and Meta descriptions are vital to the purpose of a web page. But all this hidden knowledge that is vital to functioning of IT based products is nothing but ‘occult’.
Likewise, in the domain of natural sciences, all the knowledge that can be perceived only with help of instruments and all the theoretical knowledge about scientific principles and scientific theories is nothing but ‘occult’ knowledge. Therefore it is not surprising that in the Middle Ages, magnetism was sometimes called an occult quality. Newton was even accused of introducing occult agencies into natural science when he postulated gravity as a force capable of acting over vast distances. Newton's contemporaries severely critiqued his theory that gravity was affected through "action at a distance" as occult. Likewise, in the contemporary world, scientific theories such as Big Bang theory, String Theory, M-Theory, Darwinism are nothing but examples of ‘occult’ scientific theories.
Keeping all above in view, it is clear that in pursuit of knowledge, dealing with ‘occult’ or hidden knowledge is inevitable.
The real cause of concern is the ease with which knowledge of ‘supernatural’ creeps into knowledge of ‘natural’ which leads us astray into a universe which is just not there. Such knowledge is of no use except for the purpose of writing science fiction, for example, time machine etc. Such knowledge only builds castles in air. Therefore scientific community must strictly guard against polluting of scientific knowledge by knowledge of supernatural.
Hence, over the past few centuries definition of Science has evolved from knowledge of measurable to the definition given below:-
“Science is comprehensive, consistent, coherent natural explanation of natural phenomena”
Therefore, in pursuit of scientific knowledge, conducting isolated experiments and drawing mathematically-logically perfect conclusions is not enough. These conclusions have to be comprehensive and consistent with rest of scientific knowledge. Therefore conclusions drawn have to meet tests of ‘rationality’ and ‘plausibility’ in order to be scientifically valid. This is the only way to prevent creeping of knowledge of supernatural into science so that in due course of time science does not develop a mythology of its own.
Summing up, it must be appreciated that ‘occult’ is unavoidable in scientific domain but it is valid only so long as it is consistent with natural phenomena, directly or collaterally.
Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only book which deals with origin of nature and universe from null or Zero or nothing. Second chapter of the book is about ‘Truth’. I have used excerpts from Wikipedia for writing this article.