science superstition religion 1992

December 2, 1992
Larry Calloway, Albuquerque Journal (

Dear Mr. Calloway:

As you pointed out in your column yesterday, there are federal (as well as state and tribal) environmental laws against pothunting **. These secular sanctions need to be publicized better.

It is incorrect, however, to state as you did, that the supernatural sanctions which seem to apply to those who behave without respect toward those who came before, ancestral Pueblo people, are “superstitions.” It is further incorrect to suggest, though many do, that the spiritual or supernatural realm is anti-Science.

Religion and Science are two ways of knowing the world. Science is appropriate for knowing natural phenomenon while religion is appropriate for knowing supernatural phenomenon. The world, the environment —within which people act and of which people are an essential part since the time of knowing —cannot itself be holistically learned of without the complementary epistemologies of Science and Sprituality.

Science cannot be good Science (done well) without relying in part on the knowledge of experts, especially Science of complex, non-linear dynamic systems (i.e., people and their cultural, physical, biological environment) nor by ignoring an entire realm of acting phenomena. The way to that realm is Spritiual.

Thus, Science done well cannot know the world by itself, in the absence of the Spritiual. Science and Spiritual can’t be antagonists or opposites. They are complements. And knowledge is never ignorance (superstition).


from Calloway’s column

MORE WEIRDNESS: The lead story in the current issue of High Country News begins with a similar letter. After picking up some pottery pieces at Chaco Canyon, a young man wrote, he pulled his shoulder while wind surfing, had his Southwest books drenched by a malfunctioning washing machine and started having fights at work.

Another, last June, returned Chaco pot shards with this confession: “The guilt has been a great punishment and it feels good to return the artifacts. Incidentally, I would have returned the items to the park the day we left, but we had two flat tires about 20 miles south of the park.”

Without an exact location where they were taken, the fragments are of little archaeological value. But the letters have been posted, too, at Chaco Culture National Historical Park as warnings.

The implicit message from our government here is superstitious.

Steal a shard and the Gods will get you. The government message goes against Science (unless guilt psychology is a science).

Still, government is always supporting Science. It’s a major activity of government to support Science and its industrial, agricultural, medical and military applications.

Superstition is largely ignored. It is a victim of discrimination. It is homeless. Superstition needs a program. Superstition needs a federal grant.

** pothunting

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One response to “science superstition religion 1992

  1. The week of 2006july03, Native America Calling had a caller who mentioned the story about Chaco Canyon and pilfered artifacts.