Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Shortcomings of Science and Religious Fundamentalism

"One Side becomes nihilistic and can't really believe in anything at all, while the other side believes one thing no matter what evidence to the contrary might say, believes all the more because what it believes cannot be verified.  Each side tries to prove the foolishness of the other, yet each remains literalist in its own way.  These are two sides of the same concretized coin.  Each views the world with a single vision and can't quite open the eye of imagination or loosen the mind enough to become 'double-minded.'

Each side gains some surety at the cost of a tragic loss of imagination and a dramatic reduction in the sense of wonder at the immediate world.  Literalism takes the mystery out of life and eventually takes the life out of the mysteries.  From there, it's a short journey to expecting the whole thing to end at any moment.  Literalist attitudes in modern sciences and within mass religions lead people to envision an actual end to the created world, albeit for different reasons.

When simple belief replaces wonder and fear replaces the awe proper to seeing the beauty and surprise of life, then something essential has been lost.  The loss of wonder for the living world and awe at being part of it grows as part of the cost of literal thinking, be it scientific positivism or religious fundamentalism.  As wonder becomes reduced to the facts of the matter or restricted to fixed beliefs, the end of the world seems near indeed, either a fact to be reckoned with or a necessary evil to await."

- Michael Meade, The World Behind The World:  Living at the Ends of Time


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