May 16, 2008

Stuart Kauffman: Reinventing the Sacred

Check out Stuart Kaufmann's new book, Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion.

Book Description:
Consider the woven integrated complexity of a living cell after 3.8 billion years of evolution. Is it more awe-inspiring to suppose that a transcendent God fashioned the cell, or to consider that the living organism was created by the evolving biosphere? As the eminent complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman explains in this ambitious and groundbreaking new book, people who do not believe in God have largely lost their sense of the sacred and the deep human legitimacy of our inherited spirituality. For those who believe in a Creator God, no science will ever disprove that belief. In Reinventing the Sacred, Kauffman argues that the science of complexity provides a way to move beyond reductionist science to something new: a unified culture where we see God in the creativity of the universe, biosphere, and humanity. Kauffman explains that the ceaseless natural creativity of the world can be a profound source of meaning, wonder, and further grounding of our place in the universe. His theory carries with it a new ethic for an emerging civilization and a reinterpretation of the divine. He asserts that we are impelled by the imperative of life itself to live with faith and courage-and the fact that we do so is indeed sublime. Reinventing the Sacred will change the way we all think about the evolution of humanity, the universe, faith, and reason.
Kaufmann is also the author of At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity.


Anonymous said...

Soory, they lost me at "As the eminent complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman explains in this ambitious and groundbreaking new book, people who do not believe in God have largely lost their sense of the sacred and the deep human legitimacy of our inherited spirituality.".

Presuming I have no sense of sacred simply because I find the complexity of cells, the gas-jets of a pulsar in deep space, or the wonderful complexity of gestation and birth more beautiful, awe inspiring and, yes, sacred than any bronze-age sky fairy myth could ever hope to be is the height of arrogance.

Spirituality and the devine =/= faith in God. It's too bad such an otherwise noble thesis had to be ruined by a failure to understand and try to inject religion into a perfectly good worldview. Science IS sacred, we don't need myth to tell us that.

Religion had it's place, it had it's time; it's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

That Kauffman's “reinvention” is but a slightly “modernised” version of the old good pantheism, “equivalence between God and nature”. The great “novelty” proposed by the “eminent complexity theorist” is but a relatively “new” word , “complexity” including equally verbal “emergence”, “self-organisation”, “edge of chaos”, etc. and formally attached to the millennia-old “new view”. There could be something more in it, if those “officially eminent” sages could at least provide a universal and rigorous definition of the main subject of their study, complexity. But neither Kauffman, nor other bureaucratic science leaders don't do it, providing instead practically unlimited verbal hype and meaningless computer “simulations” within canonical, strongly reduced “models”. The only “new” result of that “interdisciplinary” rubbish is further degradation of the scientific method, so that now everything, every senseless and “ideologically” driven word play becomes possible under the label of “rigorous” and “advanced” science. The worst is that the truly universal and rigorous concept/definition of real system complexity does exist and solves real, not “model”, problems (thus confirming its properties), but how can it ever be accepted (or even politely mentioned!) in a “self-organised” system of fruitless “research” that favours and generously supports open intellectual parasitism? Pity that those destructive tendencies in science development seem to find their special refuge in Canada, an otherwise very nice and efficient country profiting from real-life complexity of its people and environment.

Anonymous said...

Kauffman was speaking about this book in Toronto some weeks back. Not sure if got a chance to catch it or not, George.

He went out of his way several times to say that he was still an atheist and that he wasn't giving in to the dark side. But, honestly, I wasn't very impressed. I *think* he's trying to encourage people to have the same sense of wonder at the universe as it is, that you see in one of Richard Feynman's more famous quotes. But there was absolutely no coherence to what he was saying, so that's just a guess.

Anonymous said...

Dustin, that's precisely what this book is about, the beautiful complexity of the universe. This is precisely what Kauffman believes is sacred! He asks us to drop the Creator God and embrace the creative beauty of a self generating universe.