Joan Walton


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JSS 7.1

JSS 7.1 The significance of consciousness studies and quantum physics for researching spirituality

by Dr Joan Walton, York St. John University, York, UK
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 21-34

The purpose of this paper is to argue that researchers interested in studying spirituality may benefit from paying attention to the phenomenon of consciousness. Despite consciousness being integral to human experience, it is largely ignored in research into spirituality. Yet there is evidence to suggest that the study of spirituality, and explorations of consciousness, have much to offer each other. My contention is that the subject of consciousness has not received much attention within mainstream social and educational research, due to the prevailing, often unconscious, influence of Newtonian science, which assumes consciousness to be an epiphenomenon of the brain. However, developments in science, particularly in quantum physics, have shown that the world cannot be explained by Newtonian principles of separation and atomism. At the same time, a growing disillusionment with science has resulted in the emergence of a grassroots spirituality which challenges a materialist scientific paradigm. In science and spirituality, there is a growing realization of the interconnectedness of everything, with the quantum principle of ‘entanglement’ suggesting that differentiation between ‘objectivity’ and ‘subjectivity’ is an artificial one. Instead, there is a meaningful relationship between experiences of consciousness in inner and outer worlds, with neither existing independently of the other. I conclude by presenting a case for developing research methods which reflect a secular spiritual world view that creates harmony between science, spirituality and our experience of consciousness.

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