Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beginnings are Dangerous Times

So this will be my first post under The Constant Fire which happens to be the title of my book. The blog, like the book, will be about science and religion. Actually, as I say in the book, I am not a big fan of the word religion in this context because it tends to point people towards the imperatives of institutions (scriptures, dogma, orthodoxies, real estate) rather than the experience of the world as sacred which is really what I am interested in. I like the term Human Spiritual Endeavor as a tag for what is, for me at least, where the interesting stuff in all this lives.

So as much as possible I will stay away from the old and rather boring debate about evolution and creationism. I am so very tired of watching people talk past each other on that one. I am a theoretical astrophysicist so for me the Theory of Evolution is no different than the Theory of Aerodynamics which I trust to keep the 5000 ton 737 I am flying home on in the air. Pope John Paul II had no problem with evolution and last i checked he was religious so why are we still locked up in this debate. Its time to move on.

Of course the organs of science can seem pretty blind to the full range of what happens in Religion too. Humanity has a 50,000 year history of encountering what might gentely be called "life's sacred character". That is a lot of thought and time an effort and it has not all been about beating the guy next to you over the head. All too often science as a cultural force seems to tell people that if they experience a spiritual dimension in their life they must just be too dumb or mushy headed to face up to "facts".

What a shame.

What is missing in the endless debates about evolution vs scripture and faith vs reason is elemental lived experience that people have, and have always had, of awe and wonder and reverence before the world. I argue that from these elemental experiences the impulse which becomes science or spiritual endeavor is born. It is all about the aspiration to know the true and the real which emerges from those experiences. Starting there will leads us in a very different direction.

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