By Stuart A. Kauffman
A really thought-provoking and detailed article about what God could be - but fatally flawed by a lack of consistancy and an anti-secular bias.
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kauffma ... index.html
Kauffman starts out by modestly stating that he’s out to ‘reinvent the sacred’ so that God is seen as the very creativity of the Universe. I cannot see that he’s on about much more than a romantic ‘New Age’ view of God wherein the only difference is that God didn’t actually create the Earth and everything we know in six days. Kauffman’s paper is mostly a lengthy and contived attack on reductionism in science.
My main problems with what he writes is what comes across as an anti-secular, and specifiacally anti-humanist, bias despite pretences to objectivity:
AndAbout a billion of us are secular but bereft of our spirituality and reduced to being materialist consumers in a secular society. If we the secular hold to anything it is to “humanism.” But humanism, in a narrow sense, is too thin to nourish us as human agents in the vast universe we partially cocreate.
Nice of him to grant the possibility of humanists having a ‘legitimacy of their own spirituality’.A third injury is that agnostic and atheist “secular humanists” have been quietly taught that spirituality is foolish or, at best, questionable. Some secular humanists are spiritual but most are not. We are thus cut off from a deep aspect of our humanity. Humans have led intricate and meaningful spiritual lives for thousands of years, and many secular humanists are bereft of it. Reinventing the sacred as our response to the emergent creativity in the universe can open secular humanists to the legitimacy of their own spirituality.
Nevertheless, his bias is repeatedly betrayed by his syntax, where for example he feels the need to ring-fence humanism and secular humanists in quotes, as above, and:
Today the schism between faith and reason ﬁnds voice in the sometimes vehement disagreements between Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, who believe in a transcendent Creator God, and agnostic and atheist “secular humanists” who do not believe in a transcendent God.
But as often happens with would-be ‘great’ men, he often gets the very basic things wrong in hurrying along to present his great thoughts. For example, where he contradicts himself by saying that we cannot predict the future before he asserts that something will never be possible:
Here he confuses the ‘pathway to truth’ with what ‘are true’:My claim is not simply that we lack sufﬁcient knowledge or wisdom to predict the future evolution of the biosphere, economy, or human culture. It is that these things are inherently beyond prediction. Not even the most powerful computer imaginable can make a compact description in advance of the regularities of these processes.
Science is not, as Galileo claimed, the only pathway to truth. History, the situated richness of the humanities, and the law are true as well.
That is once of several times when he takes a swipe at Galileo, mostly in the context of accusations that ‘science has driven a wedge between faith and reason’. Ironic that, when one considers that Galileo was one of the most notable victims of the unreason of faith. I have read over the past almost two decades in the wake of the ‘new crusades’ to Iraq, of many Christians who aver that because Christianity underwent its reason-based Enlightenment in the West, it is superior to Islam. The argument goes that what poor old-fashioned Islam needs is a process of Enlightenment and reason – but here we have Kauffman asserting that there is a wedge between faith and reason in the West… so which is it?
I really do wish that Kauffman had dumped much of the anti-secular and romantic New Age wooly thinking and stuck with his two most incisive observations:
Around those two observations he does lay out some interesting thinking, but so much more has not been worked out. In the end it amounts to another eminent writer clutching onto the comfort blanket of religion and unwilling to address what we can try to understand through rationality and reason about our place as a species in the universeI hold that it is we who have invented God.
A Creator God is not needed for the origin of life.