Biological reductionism asserts that every human experience is reducible to biological events, inlcuding human consciousness.  While I do not deny that our physical bodies influence conscious experiences in mortality, it is not true that our bodies are the fundamental source of consciousness - our spirits are.  

Before entering mortality we existed as conscious, sentient, learning, and agentic spiritual beings.  None of these spiritual characteristics were taken from us when we entered this life under a veil of forgetfulness.  In this life we still possess a sentient spirit.  Unfortunately, all too often the learning and truth acquiring capabilities of our spirits are brushed aside and often denied by modern-day biological reductionism.

God provided us with 2 major ways for acquire truth; they are both important to our quest for truth and happiness in this life.  They are the empirico-rational approach and the spiritual approach. 

The empirico-rational approach is the domain of science.  We learn by touching, smelling, hearing, and seeing the world around us and by thinking about the world in a logical fashion.  Good science involves observing and thinking about the natural world in a clear and objective manner.

The spiritual approach is outside of the domain of science, but it is no less important in the quest for truth.  According to the spiritual approach, we learn when the Holy Ghost and Light of Christ communicate with our spirits.  Good spiritual learning involves fine tuning our spirits to the frequencies of these two spiritual powers.  

In our material, science-driven world I am concerned that we underestimate the power of spiritual learning.  Here is a little exercise to demonstrate this point.  

Think back to a time when you had a powerful spiritual experience - a time when the Spirit communicated with your spirit by answering prayer, testifying the truth of a gospel principle, bringing peace to your life, or by enlightening your mind.  Ok, now think back to the birthday cake you ate and the presents you opened on your 18th birthday.  Which experience stands out more in your mind?  Which can you remember better?  Both events were meaningful to us, but which left a more lasting impression - the empirical or spiritual?

As time passes, empirical experiences turn to shades of black and white and tend to become clouded with uncertainty.  On the other hand, powerful spiritual experiences live on in vivid color and retain their brightness.  Why is this so?  I do not know all the reasons why, but one thing is clear: Spiritual learning is real, powerful, long lasting, and, more importantly, provides certain knowledge of things that the Lord communicates to us.  

In fact, spiritual knowledge is just as certain and real as empirical knowledge.  Moreover, given that our eyes, ears, and touch can deceive us but the Lord never will, spiritual knowledge is oftentimes more real and certain than everyday empirical knowledge.  I have experienced this in my own life.  On more than one occasion I have known the certainty of some personally important idea or event because it was made known unto me by the Spirit of the Lord.

So as we go about acquiring truth via the empirico-rational model of science, let’s not forget the spiritual model of acquiring truth.  The spiritual model is not solely limited to the religious domain; it can be applied in other areas as well, including science and secular scholarship.  One of the greatest scientific minds of all time was aided by the Spirit of the Lord in discovering a revolutionary scientific truth.  When asked how he discovered the mathematical laws of gravity, Newton replied: “I [kept] the subject constantly before me and wait[ed] ‘till the first dawnings open[ed] slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light.” 

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