If you have not yet, watch this video for context.
Rupert Sheldrake begins his Talk by saying how the biggest problem in the world of science today is that scientists believe that everything they think they know about science is correct and therefore are not willing to consider any other possibilities. (This is a generalisation of course) Rupert likens that trust in science to a belief system. He goes on to describe the difference between science as a method of inquiry (research, reason, evidence etc) and science as a belief system or world view, and how science as a world view has restricted the development of science as a method of inquiry.
This phenomenon that Rupert describes can actually be seen in many different areas of our life. We get stuck in our ways of thinking and living and will actually sometimes become defensive when another perspective is offered to us. It is as if we have anchored our entire self definition and self worth in our beliefs and opinions, and when someone comes along and talks about something else, something that challenges our views in any way we act as if we are defending our young from hungry predators. Because we hold on to our views so tightly we do not give ourselves the opportunity to consider or explore what other possibilities exist. This is at the very least a shame and at the very worst a crime against life.
Consider this point within the context of the economy, or international state of affairs, or inter religious state of affairs - everyone is trying to get on top of the mountain called "I am right" and will do so at any cost it seems. How many wars have been started because of one or more groups of people trying to impose their beliefs or opinions on one or more other groups of people? How much of our economy is based on ideals and infrastructure developed decades, or even centuries ago? How much do we hold on to that could actually be altered or overhauled for the better?
I am not saying that everything that Rupert says is correct. This isn't even about being right or wrong. This is about being open to the possibility that there is always more to investigate, discover and improve upon. If we were to open ourselves to considering and investigating everything, and keeping what is good, no matter what area of life, life on earth would explode with potential. Even a belief as simple and common as "It's just the way it is" would be forced out - because we would question WHY it is that way and what can be done to change it to benefit everyone.
We are not defined by what we believe - not really. We are defined by our thoughts, words and actions. We are defined by what we create in this world as well as what we allow. Sure, often our beliefs will determine to a great extent what it is we will create or allow - but we have reached a point of awareness where it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to live by rules that are not actually bringing about the best possible life for everyone - we are the ones who must determine what will create the best possible life - and this can only be done through the open and unbiased investigation of all possible avenues. Investigate everything and keep what is good.