A clever way to convince yourself or others your religion is true is: claim that it’s science.
Spinning sciency sounding jargon into book titles or language doesn’t necessarily make it scientific.
Calling something “science” or “scientific” when it isn’t is misleading, maybe even unethical. Why?
When the word science is used in marketing copy we associate the product with our ideas of sterile laboratories, petri dishes, test tubes, verified facts, clinical experiments, and approvals from bona fide scientific communities of spectacled, PhD geniuses wearing lab coats. When “science” is used we are led to believe the product being promoted has been verified by scientific method.
What genuine science is able to say about the benefits of meditation is interesting. I spend hours each week reading articles, scientific- and scholarly-texts, and examining the intersection of science and meditation.
Red flags should go up immediately when we see the word “science” used to promote products or worldviews that aren’t really scientific. This would include 98.9% of meditation, Buddhist, and spiritual products that use science.
Paramahansa Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship (in whose monastic order I was formerly ordained) flaunt the word “science” in these yoga-meditation book titles:
- The Science of Religion
- The Holy Science
- Scientific Healing Affirmations
- The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India’s Universal Science of God-Realization
- God Talks With Arjuna — The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization
In The Science of Kriya Yoga, Chapter 26 in the Autobiography of a Yogi1, Yogananda makes the hard sell that his version of yoga meditation is “science”. These are only a few of the glaring examples when “science” is used to sell products and promote a religious worldview.
Buddhist authors are no less guilty of spinning science into their marketing copy and product titles:
- The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet
- Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (Buddhism and Modernity)
- Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge
- Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
- The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
There’re 2000+ books under Buddhism Science/Religion & Spirituality books on Amazon.
Type these search terms into Amazon’s Religion & Spirituality catalog: science, quantum, scientific, and physics. You will find tens of thousands of sciency-sounding religious products.
I don’t blame sincere Yogis, Buddhists, and Spiritual-seekers for believing their religion or practice is true. Sincerity doesn’t make claims true, ethical, nor scientific fact. It’d serve Seekers to do objective, independent research before they buy these “scientific” products. Would you buy a car just on the car salesman’s word? You verify before you buy that what is being sold is a reliable vehicle. You research Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book, and ask your mechanic to check under the hood. I now do my homework and plenty of skeptical inquiry before buying anything important.
Weaving sciency-sounding jargon into marketing copy no longer tricks me. I wish earlier in life I’d known the difference between genuine science, pseudoscience, and marketing using “science”. I probably would not have bought, consumed, and committed so many hours and years to highly questionable products. Granted there can be some helpful advice and inspiring ideas in them. Wishful thinking makes me want to believe and hope for miraculous enlightenment. But, I now realize wishing or calling things “science” doesn’t make them true or real.
Question for readers: When would use of “science” NOT be misleading in spiritual-product marketing?
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