"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But, thinking it through afterwards, you can always discover the reasons which have led you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it." - Albert Einstein
I’d like to address some unfounded and preposterous claims coming from militant skeptical circles. You may be used to seeing words such as “preposterous” directed mainly at religious believers and spiritually oriented people. However, the most hardcore skeptics are often just as guilty as those whom they find themselves in debates with.
The inspiration for this article arose from a conversation on a YouTube video page in which a user called me arrogant for using the word "soul" in a comment. The comment was meant to console the uploader during a crisis in her career. The resulting conversation became rather fruitful after a while.
There is a school of thought that assumes that we all have access to the same knowledge sources and that these sources come from normal waking consciousness. In other words: Touch, taste, sight, hearing, scent, the intellect, scientific methodologies and scientific machinery.
When someone makes a claim about inner guidance, intuitions that go beyond mere "gut" hunches, empathic information, etc, this school of thought proclaims "you have no way of knowing that."
In this vision, information coming from subtle and untraceable sources is no different than a consultation with a magic 8 ball or a coin toss. The assumption is that these processes are random. The bearer of such knowledge is shooting in the dark and has no right to make statements that mislead people.
To turn the tables around, the fundamental assumption behind this school of thought is exactly that - an unproven assumption that is taken as gospel truth.
On Thanksgiving, a woman told me a story about an intuition she had with a man who was walking toward her late at night. She "knew" without a doubt, through a flash of insight, that this man was an exhibitionist who was about to pull his pants down and show her his willy. She was exactly correct.
If you told this person that this flash was just a random guess and that she just happened to get lucky, like in Roulette, she probably would have a lot to say.
Albert Einstein, a self-taught amateur physicist, produced his greatest works after flashes of "knowing". He could not trace where the knowledge came from. Nor could he trace the process of its travels from the source to the conscious mind and intellect. This is how intuition works. It looks at the whole while the intellect pieces together the parts. Both are essential.
Einstein was not in a possible life or death situation, so he was able to get his ideas tested through math and science. Healthy skepticism was a luxury he could afford. He "knew" his model worked better than the quantum mechanics of his time. However, you can't just tell the scientific community to incorporate a new idea into the existing body of science without putting it through the scientific process. Furthermore, they won't be able to work with it anyway without structuring it accordingly.
What if the above mentioned woman doubted her knowledge, which came from a very holistic and subtle non-random source, in the case of a possible rape? Extending the logic of the religious wing of skeptics, she would have to have the permission of science first before placing trust in it.
It could be 100 years before science develops the means and methods to catch up to this anomoly. Anomolies that don't fit neatly into a prevailing scientific paradigm are usually ignored for a long time until a new generation of scientists starts to admit, at least, that the anomalies exist and that they don't fit the current mold.
Over time, the old guard dies out and there's less controversy. First, the mere admittance of a new possibility ceases to be a "hot potato" career ender that gets you laughed out of the field. Then, it becomes easier to design and obtain funding for studies that work with these things.
In Einstein's case, what if science did not have the means or methods to confirm his intuitions? Could it have been concluded that he was selling a Santa Clause story based on random chance of the imagination? He did have knowledge of quantum mechanics, so it wouldn't be COMPLETELY random of course. However, it still would have been quite a leap according to some. Many people would have called it a bunch of hooey or, to use a more sophisticated term, balderdash.
At the moment, studies of enlightenment are limited to methods such as the Functional MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. This is a scan that measures virtual real time activity in various parts of the brain. Science can conclude that "these advanced yogis have significantly more gray matter in the such and such lobe," and then try to speculate on what that means in terms of emotional health, etc.