Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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34 / Dialogue In the final analysis, it is apparently the metaphysical incompleteness of physics which prevents the erection of a comprehensive, self-consistent model of the universe. And this should make us skeptical of claims for both comprehensiveness and logical consistency in any other science, because physics deals with the simplest models and has the most formal mathematical structure of all the sciences. I have no intention of stigmatizing scientific knowledge as meager or unsatisfactory. On the contrary: the Schrodinger equation is also "a thing of beauty, and a joy forever." But we must eschew the scientific idolatry which attempts to define reality solely in terms of some particular set of collective representations or hypotheses, and learn, instead, to meet reality in all the levels and varieties of human experience. Once we acquire the intellectual and spiritual courage to discard our monolithic world-view, the metaphysical inconclusiveness of science ceases to appear as a threatening gap in our comprehension of nature. It offers, instead, the opportunity for laying new foundations in scientific thought—based on philosophy, art, and certainly on theology. In this way, we may also recover that feeling for the purposefulness of nature which was the special delight of the sophisticated scientists of antiquity. We need, finally, to understand clearly that the failure of ancient science was not rooted in its mode of consciousness, but rather in its attempt to achieve a complete world picture through a single mode of thought. With the shift away from participation in the phenomena and the consequent bifurcation of the universe into objects and observers, we have gained an understanding and control of natural processes of which the ancients could only dream. Yet Laplace made the same mistake as Aquinas. Therefore it is not the method of science which we must renounce, but the madness. To this end, we would do well to pray with William Blake: May God keep us From single vision and Newton's sleep.68 III. Problems and Prospects To recapitulate: We have drawn two major conclusions about science, based on the example of physics: First, that its methodology does not consist of prescriptions for "doing" science, but rather of rules of art, which are embodied in a tradition of practice preserved in and by a community dedicated to individual freedom and the pursuit of truth. Second, that physics, although it deals with the simplest and most fundamental phenomena of nature, is seemingly unable to give an account of these phenomena which is simultaneously complete and logically consistent, thus casting grave doubts on the ability of any scientific enterprise to do so. From these conclusions, I have inferred the possibility of a dialogue between science and religion, based on (1) their common interest in preserving moral and intellectual freedom for the scientific and religious communities; and (2) on the need of science for periodic infusions of categories and concepts not available in its own storehouse—a need which has frequently been met by theological, religious or mystical perceptions of the universe. In all of this, I have stressed the contributions which religion can make to the progress of scientific activity and thought. Since I have assumed from the be-