Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Language of God

The meaning of human existence, the reality of God, the possibility of an afterlife, and many other spiritual questions lie outside of the reach of the scientific method. While an atheist may claim that those questions are therefore unanswerable and irrelevant, that does not resonate with most individuals' experience. John Polkinghorne (Belief in God in an Age of Science) argues this point cogently by a comparison to music:

The poverty of an objectivistic account is made only too clear when we consider the mystery of music. From a scientific point of view, it is nothing but vibrations in the air, impinging on the eardrums and stimulating neural currents in the brain.

How does it come about that this banal sequence of temporal activity has the power to speak to our hearts of an eternal beauty? The whole range of subjective experience, from perceiving a patch of pink, to being enthralled by a performance of the Mass in B Minor, and on to the mystic's encounter with the ineffable reality of the One, all these truly human experiences are at the center of our encounter with reality, and they are not to be dismissed as epiphenomenal froth on the surface of a universe whose true nature is impersonal and lifeless.

Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it possible.

- Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief


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