Malcolm wrote:Scientific methodology cannot verify non-falsifiable phenomena (such as karma, rebirth, God, etc.) because they cannot be tested and reproduced. Nonfalsifiabiluty does not render something false, merely untestable at present.
Yes, that is quite correct.
But a big factor is also what the terms mean.
For example, if karma is used to express some sense of cause and effect,
then that can be tested. if it refers only to some notion of
some continuity of behavior patterns or conditions from one lifetime to another
then, not so easy to test.
And, it depends on what you define as a 'lifetime".
if there is no 'self', how long is a lifetime?
Scientific instruments can map out where certain brain activities correspond to certain emotional experiences
and the typical scientist points to a monitor connected to a brain scanner and says
"you see...sexual arousal (or fear, or anger, or some other emotional event)
occurs right there where the part of the cortex is showing up yellow on the screen"
and that may the extent of their interpretation of what they see.
But we can take that a little further,
and I think the process of analysis (vippasana, perhaps) leads one in this direction,
and determine that
all that is going on in the brain is some charged up synapse activity
not appreciably different from stomach acids digesting food, really
except that brain activity is experienced directly as
emotions or thoughts
while stomach activity goes largely unnoticed, unless there is a problem.
Even then, the mechanics of that observance is in the brain.
but, it cannot be determined, scientifically , that brain mechanics or activity witnesses itself
because there is nothing in the molecules of fat, water, salt and amino acids
that can be shown, scientifically, to have any cognitive ability whatsoever.
In my opinion, asserting that "the brain thinks"
is not really any different from saying that rocks and rivers have spirits
(a concept most scientists would probably reject).
So, we have to theorize then that, either
awareness has another cause,
or that it is a causeless precondition in which everything else arises.
There is a lot that can be logically inferred
but you can't test out the unobservable
(for example, prayers helping to heal the sick)
because you can't rule out other unobservable factors
that would contaminate the data
(such as invisible unicorns in the same hospital,
giving people magical healing kisses).