Back Transdisciplinarity and the Unity of Knowledge: Beyond the Science and Religion Dialogue

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Alena Govorounova
Revelatory Spirituality and Science—an Oxymoron? Examining Revelatory Transcendental Discourses on Self and Personhood at the Intersections of Science, Buddhism and Christianity


The present paper addresses the developments on the “science and spirituality” discussion within the context of the contemporary “science and religion” dialogue and the most recent critique of mind-body dualism (specifically under the Templeton project on Global Perspectives on Science and Spirituality). Today, at the height of epiphenomenalism, physicalism, and dialectical materialism, “human spirituality” is gradually becoming indistinguishable from “consciousness”; while religion, deprived of the sense of supernaturalist “beyondness,” becomes redefinable as doctrinal philosophy and/or humanistic morality. For the clarification of terms, the present paper attempts to examine overlaps and differences in approaches to personhood, human essence and the nature of consciousness inherent within materialist-dominated scientific discourses and Buddhist and Christian religious traditions. It argues that whilst Buddhist and scientific paradigms of “transitory self” obviously largely contribute to the exploration of human psyche, with psyche understood as a natural extension of human body—they both fail to acknowledge and to analyze the tout autre transcendentalist phenomena of pneuma and pneumatological experiences inherent in Christianity. For the adherents of the Christian faith, the experience of being “born-again,” understood as an acquisition of the supernatural divine substance articulated as “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” often implies a renewed understanding of the self as a coherent entity—both in theological and experiential terms, which comes in a striking contrast with the experience of the self as a disconnected, disintegrated psyche of the “natural man.” Such spiritual quests towards oneself as a transcendental spirit are often sustained through the prophetic pneumatological experiences referred to as “gifts of the Spirit” in Christian parlance. In attempting to elaborate the framework for the study of pneuma as personhood, the first step would be to acknowledge that these long-neglected revelatory phenomena exist; they actively shape the lives of religious communities and must be scientifically examined. Apparently, it is through the prism of transcendental human spirit and revelatory spirituality that the ongoing controversy between science and religion may be best analysed. As long as our current “science vs. spirituality” debates whirl around psycho-healing effects of religious experiences or positive impacts of religious ethics on society, we will encounter no significant epistemological gaps. However, when the discussion concerns the existence of transcendental human spirit and revelatory phenomena, the clash of the worldviews becomes inescapably evident. In summary, the present paper will highlight the reductionist tendencies seen in attempts to create a psychophysical paradigm of human spirituality and argue that the discussion on human personhood must include the reality—and vitality—of revelatory (pneumatological) spirituality and transcendental human spirit.


Dr. Govorounova is currently a research associate at Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture at Nanzan University in Japan.  She is also employed part-time as a Russian language instructor at Kansai University and as an English language instructor at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, Japan.  She received her PhD in Language and Culture at Osaka University, Japan.  Her disciplinary concentration was in philosophical theology and comparative religion (with the focus on Christianity, Buddhism, and Shinto).  In recent years, most of her research and publications have been in the intersections of science, philosophy and religion. 


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