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Friday, August 29, 2008

Who is this Kauffman?

I just found this sitting on my hard drive, and thought it worth putting up...not endorsing, of course, but a number of great thinking points are raised by K. (not the K of Kafka's novels, of course :-o ).

" "If no natural law suffices to describe the evolution of the biosphere, of technological evolution, of human history, what replaces it? In its place is a wondrous radical creativity without a supernatural Creator. Look out your window at the life teeming about you. All that has been going on is that the sun has been shining on the earth for some 5 billion years. Life is about 3.8 billion years old. The vast tangled bank of life, as Darwin phrased it, arose all on its own.

It is important to the Western Hebraic-Hellenic tradition that the ancient Greeks relied preeminently on reason to seek, with Plato, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. The ancient Jews, living with their God, relied more broadly on their full humanity. The ancient Jews and Greeks split the ancient Western world. The Jews, as Paul Johnson wrote in his History of the Jews, were the best historians of the ancient world, stubbornly commemorating the situated history of a people and their universal, single God, our Abrahamic God.

Is it, then, more amazing to think that an Abrahamic transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient God created everything around us, all that we participate in, in six days, or that it all arose with no transcendent Creator God, all on its own? I believe the latter is so stunning, so overwhelming, so worthy of awe, gratitude, and respect, that it is God enough for many of us. God, a fully natural God, is the very creativity in the universe. It is this view that I hope can be shared across all our religious traditions, embracing those like myself, who do not believe in a Creator God, as well as those who do. This view of God can be a shared religious and spiritual space for us all.

I believe it is important that this view is wrong. Science itself is more limited by the un-prestatable, unpredictable creativity in the universe than we have realized, and, in any case, science is not the only path to knowledge and understanding. Science cannot explain the intricate, context-dependent, creative, situated aspects of much of human action and invention, or the historicity that embraces and partially defines us. These, however, are just the domains of the humanities, from art and literature to history and law. Truth abides here, too.

The French existentialist philosophers struggled with the same issue, the view that the real universe is devoid of values. Our lives are full of value and meaning, yet no single framework offers a secure place for these facets of our humanity to coexist with fundamental science. We need a worldview in which brute facts yield values, a way to derive ought from is, just the step that Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume warned against. Agency, values, and “doing” did not come into being separately from the rest of existence; they are emergent in the evolution of the biosphere. We are the products of that evolution, and our values are real features of the universe. " "