Science and Falun Gong

Zhou Zheng

PureInsight | May 31, 2004

[] The reason that I decided to write this article is that because of the slanderous propaganda by the Chinese communist government against Falun Gong during the past few years, many of my good friends believe that Falun Gong is against science. The Chinese communist government has recently launched another massive round of attacks on Falun Gong in the name of science. Thus, I would like to share some of my humble views on the topic.

To clarify this issue, first we must understand what science truly is about. The Encyclopedia Britannica Online's definition of science is as follows: "Any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena, and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws." [1]

Then the next question is: what is Falun Gong? It is not a simple question to answer. After all, before the persecution of Falun Gong in China began, some people had never heard of Falun Gong. Besides, Falun Gong books in China have been either confiscated or destroyed. After several years of slanderous propaganda, many Chinese people have no way of knowing if Falun Gong really is the way the Chinese Communist government's propaganda has portrayed. During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government vivaciously attacked the teaching of Confucius and many Chinese classic novels such as All Men Are Brothers (also known as Water Margin). But at least, back then, we had Confucius' books and copies of All Men Are Brothers. We could read them and see for ourselves if what the government said was true or not. But now there are no Falun Gong books available to the general public in China. Of course this makes it much easier for the Chinese communist government to slander Falun Gong, because no one in China has access to Falun Gong books to verify the information about Falun Gong being broadcast as part of the government's propaganda. The general public in China has, therefore, little choice but to accept whatever the Chinese communist government's propaganda says about Faun Gong.

As a scientist residing in the United States, I have access to and read Falun Gong's books. All of them are actually available free on the Internet. [Note: people in Mainland China cannot access Falun Gong books online because the Chinese communist government blocks all Falun Gong web sites]. I haven't found anything in the Falun Gong books that isn't scientific or is against science. I will now explain some frequently asked questions about Falun Gong's attitude towards science.

One of the rumors is that Falun Gong does not allow its students to get medical treatment. Actually, this is just a misunderstanding. For example, some people will not resort to Western medicine when they have a cold, but would rather take powdered herbs for their cold. No one would say anything in this case. Why is that? Because there are many different types of medical treatments. In general, there is Western and Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine consists of herbal treatments, acupuncture, qigong and many other schools of medicine. It is a personal choice when it comes to opting for medical treatment, either Western medicine, herbal medicine, or qigong. Falun Gong is another alternative for people who seek medical treatment for their illnesses. Its exceptional health benefits are well known. [2] Besides, Falun Gong doesn't have a rule that says its students must not take medicine. This is just one false rumor that the Chinese communist government created to attack and defame Falun Gong in their propaganda.

Some people have negative opinions of Falun Gong because they find certain passages in the Falun Gong books hard to understand or difficult to accept. A genuine scientist would tolerate other scientists' theories even if they contradict with his own, because he knows that the purpose of developing science is not to prove others wrong, but to search for the truth. For example, an average Chinese person thinks that diarrhea is caused by exposure to cold and that drinking hot soup and dressing warmly is the cure. It is not something that an average American would agree with. Americans think that diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection. So they take medicine to treat the infection, which also manages to stop the diarrhea. Speaking from a broader perspective, mankind's understandings of the natural world have continuously changed and evolved. When we discover new things and reach new understandings, we may discover that some of our previous understandings are completely wrong. For example, scientists used to debate whether the sun revolves around the earth or the earth revolves around the sun. Let me give another example. It is a commonly known adage that the shortest distance between two points is the straight line connecting the two points. But in reality, from the standpoints of physics and astronomy, the straight line connecting two points is not the shortest path between the two points in a spatial distortion.

Newton and Einstein are thought to be the greatest physicists who have ever lived. They have shaped the modern science. But both of them found during their later years that religions provide answers for many mysteries that science couldn't explain.

Enhancing and maintaining health is always a tricky issue. According to statistics from Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drug companies have substantially increased their research funding for developing new drugs, but the number of new drugs discovered has decreased. Moreover, mankind has not found effective cures for new epidemics such as AIDS, SARS, and avian flu. People are more than ever interested in finding better ways to maintain their health. More and more people in the West are practicing meditation as a way to relief their stresses and improve their health. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the U.S. has for years funded research in studying the relationship between one's spirit and health.

Traditional Chinese medicine treats an illness by eliminating its "root cause" while Western medicine treats an illness by curing its surface symptoms. Western medicine suppresses the surface appearance of a sickness, but it doesn't necessarily address the root cause of the sickness. Besides, a human body is a harmonious system. Many medicines have side effects. It's also difficult to identify the medicine's side affects. Of course when one gets sick one has no choice but to take medicine. But if people can restore health or prevent the sickness through traditional Chinese medicine or qigong practice, isn't it a better alternative?

There are several passages in Falun Gong books that address restoring health and even developing supernormal abilities through cultivation. Some people attack Falun Gong because of these points. In reality, the study of the human body is a field that still needs more exploration. Ignoring or disbelieving phenomena that science can't yet explain is not an attitude that a serious scientist should take. Let us look at the Chinese acupuncture as an example. It has been around for thousands of years and is based on the theory that there are energy channels inside of the human being. Even though modern western science has acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture, it has conducted little in-depth research into the energy channels in the human body. If we are able to utilize the energy channels that acupuncture is based on and improve them on a holistic level through practicing qigong and as a result suffer from fewer illnesses, wouldn't it be a better alternative?

In my opinion, any person who has an objective mind and a general understanding of traditional Chinese culture, traditional Chinese medicine, qigong and the Book of Changes should be able to accept most of the teachings of Falun Gong. That is probably the reason why those people with ulterior motives who started the persecution against Falun Gong decided to destroy Falun Gong books. If people in China have open access to Falun Gong books, then the truth about Falun Gong would speak for itself and there would be no way that the persecution against Falun Gong could be justified.

Not many people around me knew about Falun Gong or had known a Falun Gong practitioner prior to the persecution. Their impression of Falun Gong came entirely from the media reports from Mainland China and the Chinese Communist government's propaganda. During the past several decades, for political reasons, the Chinese Communist government had ruthlessly attacked many scientific theories that we now accept as the truth, such as Mendel's theories about genes, the quantum theory, and the theory of relativity. There is a Chinese saying, "A scholar cannot reason with a mindless thug." The ordinary masses in China knew nothing better other than blindly following the social current of the day and believing what the government told them.

From a scientific perspective, I think Falun Gong has provided people with an alternative way to improve their spiritual and physical health. Some people decide to learn it and others decide not to learn it. Either way is OK. On the other hand, attacking it groundlessly and denying people the chance to learn about it on their own is definitely not something that conforms to principles of science. What is even worse is that innocent Falun Gong practitioners have been slandered, persecuted and killed for their belief in Falun Gong. At the end of the day, who are the ones that are really against science?

Human beings will never cease their search for truth and continuously improve their understandings. The truth does not change to fit in with mankind's limited knowledge. It might appear that certain people with ulterior motives have temporarily succeeded in twisting the truth and misleading the general public with their political propaganda against Falun Gong. But those slanderous lies will soon prove to be garbage.

Finally, I would like to share a story that I heard when I was young. It appears to be a good analogy of the Chinese Communist government's persecution against Falun Gong. Once upon a time, an octopus lived in the ocean. One day the octopus saw a beautiful white swan flying in the sky. The octopus was jealous of the swan's beauty and freedom in flying in the air, and thus became overcome with mad jealousy and rage. "Why is the white swan allowed to be different from us octopus?" So the octopus discharged all the ink inside its ink sac and shot the ink towards the beautiful swan with all its might. It managed to cover the water around it with its own black ink. The octopus was very pleased with its attack. It thought to itself, "Now we are all stained in black ink." In the mean time, the beautiful swan flew away in the sky still looking as beautiful and majestic as ever.

[2] (Chinese only)

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