Reinventing the Sacred

3 January 2009 at 7:13 pm 1 comment

I’m always reading so many books at once that I am reluctant to start another one…. But there are so many to be read, and they all sit around staring at me, asking “When?”  Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

One that falls into this category, Stuart Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion, looks like it might be one of the most important books on the planet, and those are always calling for my attention.  The book flap says that it “proposes a new understanding of a natural divinity based on an emerging, scientifically  based world view.”  Kauffman wants to redefine God to represent the “natural creativity in the universe.”  As a complexity theorist, Kauffman’s work on thermodynamics and life leads him to conclude that there should be a “fourth law of thermodynamics” that recognizes how life seems to oppose entropy.

The concern of this book is to make an appeal that unites disparate religions and belief systems in a common, shared understanding so that we as a species can begin to take control of our collective destiny–and the destiny of the biosphere which we are close to damaging beyond repair.  In his concluding chapter, Kauffman writes:

If these lines of discussion have merit and stand the test of scrutiny over time, we will transition to a new view of ourselves, our humanity, and this, our world that we partially cocreate.  In this view, much of what we have sought from a supernatural God is the natural behavior of the emergent creativity in the universe.  If one image can suffice, think that all that has happened for 3.8 billion years on our planet, to the best of our knowledge, is that the sun has shed light upon the Earth, and some other sources of free energy have been available, and all that lives around you has come into existence, all on its own.  I find it impossible to realize this and not be stunned with reverence. (282)

It is this last sentence that strikes a chord with me.  All the science I read about leads me to this same “stunned reverence.”  This leads me to think of the fourth principle of Unitarian Universalism:  “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”  This principle invites me to learn as much science as I can, not to ignore it as so many other denominations of Christianity do.  Kauffman offers a way of integrating the most current theories of science into a coherent religious framework, one that can serve our planet at its time of greatest need–when we need to grow up as a species and take responsibility for our actions.


Entry filed under: books, complexity theory, energonomics, philosophy, science, Unitarian Universalism. Tags: , , , , , , .

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