The Return of Magic: Part Three

In Part Two I suggested that the one big think limiting science is the consciousness of scientists. It was for this reason that, two years ago, I initiated the Galileo Commission. Its purpose is to suggest ways of expanding science, so that it can accommodate phenomena it currently cannot, or will not, accommodate. This includes all paranormal experiences, such as telepathy and distant healing; and higher forms of consciousness, such as those obtained by certain kinds of meditation. It also includes the so-called “hard problem of consciousness” – i.e. the fact that science cannot really explain consciousness. Although these are still early days, the signs are encouraging. A large of number of leading scientists and thinkers have become involved, and the Commission’s first report was published in October. You can download a summary at

In the document that set the Commission in motion, I wrote that “science will expand only when scientists expand. Above all, this means expanding their consciousness, as well as the range and depth of their perception.” I wrote this because, at present, science uses only one form of consciousness and perception to explore the world – the physical form. In other words, science relies almost exclusively on evidence obtained through the five senses, and extension to these senses, such as telescopes and microscopes. All scientific instruments are, in effect, extensions of our physical senses. It should therefore come as no surprise that the world scientists see is wholly physical. Indeed, a fundamental belief in science is that the universe, and everything in it, including ourselves, is physical, and only physical. It follows from this belief that everything, including consciousness, can ultimately be understood and explained in terms of the physical. If it cannot, as in the case of paranormal phenomena, then it usually ignored or denied.

It should be obvious, but perhaps it needs to be stated, that what you think the world is largely depends on the “lens” you use to view it. If you wore red spectacles, then everything would look red. Similarly, if you only wear the “physical lens” – you only see the world through your five physical senses – then, of course, the world appears to be wholly physical. The problem, as you may have guessed, is that most scientists do not accept the existence of other (non-physical) forms of perception. If they did, and if they used other forms of perception to study the world and the human being, then science would change out of all recognition. It would be “science of the whole”, rather than “science of the part” (the physical part!) This is why the Galileo Commission is working to encourage scientists to develop and use additional forms of consciousness and perception, in addition to the physical forms.

If this happened, not only would science itself expand, that expansion would have significant consequences for society as a whole. For example, it would create a strong impulse to move us away from our current obsession with materialism, with all that this implies. And I am sure that it would also help people to accept and understand real magic. This, too, would have significant implications.

I said in Part Two that I would outline how to develop additional forms of perception and consciousness. I see now that this will have to wait until I write a little more!


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