Saturday, November 19, 2011
“The search for the ‘one’, for the ultimate source of all understanding, has doubtless played a similar role in the origin of both religion and science.”
—Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), Nobel Prize winner for physics
When, as a teenager, I first began engaging intellectually with the world, I often perused the philosophy sections of bookstores and libraries, avidly inspecting books for pearls of wisdom. If a philosopher dared to mention spirituality or God, I would consider the book misplaced and not relevant to my philosophical questions – it should have been in the religion section, an area for individuals with weaker minds and weaker stomachs. I was, for some time, an avid atheist, embracing the modern scientific and philosophical trend that has become quite pervasive.
My how things change.
I have realized in my own personal journey that examinations of God and spirituality are part and parcel of philosophy – if we define philosophy as the broad endeavor to understand the universe and our place in it. There are many functions of philosophy, to be sure, but this is as good a definition of philosophy as I have found.
Any rational inquiry into the nature of the universe – which includes science as a more specialized form of philosophy – and our place in it must face one of the most basic questions: How does complexity arise? It seems that it must arise from simplicity – this is, at least, the phenomenon we see all around us: Simpler constituents generating more complex forms through combination, separation, and emergence. What place should God have in this story of simplicity producing complexity? Can’t we explain the universe in terms of merely matter, energy, and space? In a word, no.
The modern trend has generally been to whittle away God’s role in the world and in philosophy. Modern science, with Galileo, Newton, Descartes, etc. began this trend by defining the scientific pursuit as rational inquiry into God’s work. This inquiry was, and is, all about discovering the rules that govern the world.
Read the rest here.