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A colleague posted an otherwise interesting piece on Facebook about science as spirituality (despite the misleading conjunction “and” in the title). The author of the article makes claims like the following, which should be seen in the light of his overall reductionist argument–so here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/09/10/347422469/science-and-spirituality-could-it-be

“[W]e must, first and foremost, eliminate the connection between spirituality and spirit, in particular, of spirit as a supernatural manifestation. The starting point of my argument is that only matter exists. There is only the natural. In its awesome complexity, from electrons to proteins to butterflies to stars, natural forms express the wealth of interactions between the basic material constituents and the forces that bind and repel them.”

“So, we must rid spirituality from its supernatural prison, make it secular. Spirituality is a connection with something bigger than we are, seducing our imagination, creating an urge to know, to embrace the mystery that surrounds us and the mystery that we are.”

Having taught an undergraduate course on Religion and the Sciences for years, I cannot help but be bothered by such suggestions. The problem with so much of this trend is the inability or lack of know-how to accommodate different languages, their different impulses, manner, objectives, expressions, and foci. It relays a bewilderment framed by one particular language reducing the richness of experience to that language. It’s no wonder you get the cacophony of opinions expressed at the end of the article. No one, except the homeless reductionist, really buys it since the wonder expressed by science is not on a par with that expressed in poetry, religion, philosophy, etc. This is not to say, however, that these languages can’t complement one another. It is to say that we still have loads of work to do! I feel as if I must side with philosopher Richard Rorty on this one, against my better judgment.

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