Sunday, January 4, 2009


'A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it'

Max Planck

This quote is really sums up what we are talking about when it comes to moving beyond the traditional debate between science and religion. The point is not to get Richard Dawkins and Jerry Falwell (or whomever) to agree. They aren't and never will. Religious fundamentalists will never see their scriptures as anything other than literal revealed Truth. Funde-atheists will never see anything but human suffering and intolerance in anything that touches the domains of the sacred. Ok. Whatever.

But what about all the rest of us? Based on my experience there are a lot of people who simply are not literalists of any persuasion. They may be scientists who have never been part of any organized religion and don't hold a belief in a Deity. They may church-goers who have spent their lives trying to understand their experiences within a particular tradition. They may be people who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious". For all those who respect the open ended nature of life and inquiry literalism just doesn't satisfy when compared to the richness of what actually happens. For all these people I think its possible to move in a different direction. Let the media hype the yelling and screaming of the old battle, maybe the rest of us are ready to do the work of moving on.

Given the state of affairs and the challenges we face on the planet I don't think it is really an option to keep the old debate going. We will need narratives of the sacred to motivate our collective will and we need science to tell us how to put that will into action.

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