Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Complementarity of Scientific and Religious Modes of Understanding

Scientific and religious approaches to comprehending reality are deeply complementary. I do not use the word ‘deeply’ for emphasis alone: the qualities that science and religion hold in common are anything but obvious. Viewed on the surface, science and religion often appear to be at odds. Details and dogmas frequently conflict, and misperceptions originating on either side can lead to rejection of the unfamiliar system. At the lofty level of philosophical abstraction, a satisfying reconciliation of science and religion will likely always remain elusive. At the level of personal experience, however, incorporating scientific and religious modes of understanding is not only possible, it is profoundly enriching. The impulses, methods, and themes that define both science and religion are strikingly similar. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to make sense of the world are qualities that are innate to human life; unsurprisingly, these impulses are the driving force behind bot h scientific and religious explorations. The means that facilitate such explorations are fundamentally alike as well: both science and religion are system-driven, with an emphasis on unflagging action in the pursuit of greater understanding. Finally, both scientific and religious modes of understanding inexorably return to a common set of recurrent themes, emphasizing the creativity, dynamism, and unity of the world we perceive. Curiosity is instinctive in humans. We are born knowing nothing but impatient to know all: where did we come from? Why are we here? How are we to live? Such questions represent more than a simple probing for objective "facts": they are attempts to derive meaning and order from the observed world. Responses to these questions often take t... ...we live in. Â   Isaiah 40: 3-8 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." The voice said, "Cry out!" And he said, "What shall I cry?" "All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it, Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower faces, But the word of our God stands forever."

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