ago science as we know it did not exist. Our understandings
of the earth and cosmos were grounded in philosophy and
religion. The tenor of the mind was set around cycles of
the sun, moon, earth and planets, all guided by Divine Providence.
Astronomers sought truth alongside philosophers and holy
men, believing authority was derived from a living world
created by God to benefit human life.
in the 16th Century Copernicus questioned the prevailing
belief in the fixed, central position of the earth. At first
his formulations were considered heresy but over time a
new worldview about the nature of truth emerged. The "scientific
revolution" of the 1500s shifted the source of
ultimate authority from tradition to observation and experiment.
No longer was grace considered a cause as hotly debated
theories of evolution took center stage.
the accepted thought was that the universe was imbued by
divine purpose, with wo/mankind standing in the middle of
a Great Chain of Being between angels and animals. The known
world was a unified whole. After the "scientific revolution"
came to define reality, the universe was essentially inert,
influenced by laws and mechanisms that acted upon it. Some
schools of science held to holistic thinking that included
nature, gnosis, and metaphysical principles. But over the
centuries, conventional science banished all tinges of divinity
and theories split the body from the mind, the heart from
the soul, the person from their God.
scientific pursuit of truth pointed to proving the validity
of hypotheses through mathematical formulas and "unbiased"
laboratory test results. Science was driven to dispel mystery,
squeezing it into rules and categories. We came to expect
scientists to discover all there is to know.
in the 21st Century we are experiencing a new revolution.
Even with, and perhaps because of, the sophistication of
technology, scientists are beginning to acknowledge their
limits. Along with a greater ability to look deeper into
the unknown comes a discovery of more that cannot be explained.
is a shock to many who have felt secure in a reality defined
by science. It reminds me of how as a child, I believed
my father knew absolutely everything. And though a man of
few words, what he knew determined the expanse of truth
I counted on. As I grew, I was quite surprised, and even
afraid at times, to find there was much he didnt understand.
I expected him to have answers to all my questions. And
when he didnt, as a man of faith, he taught me about
the wonder and mystery of a reality that was unable to be
mystery became a bridge between science and spirituality,
for mystery is fundamental in the life of the spiritual.
In looking back reclaiming the awe of mystery was vital
for my spiritual growth. Yet not as a child given over to
the infallibility of a father, but as an adult with respect
for learning and the vastness of the unknown.
of todays scientists are coming to understand that
what we cannot know may define the nature of reality more
fundamentally than what we can know. Research on prayer
and meditation, studies on consciousness and mystical phenomenon
are conducted with scientific rigor. Our maturing sciences
are beginning to recognize there may be basic unfathomable
features of the universe. They are breaking out of their
competitive, separate corners, sharing common discoveries
across disciplines and acknowledging gaps in theories and
measurements. Scientists are making room for the mystery,
the unknowable and even the impossible.
and religion/spirituality are in essence not at odds with
each other. Rather they can be complementary ways of knowing
what it means to be human. This partnership of perspectives
brings substance and depth to our personal quests for revelation.
The other day I spoke with a doctor about his laboratory
research. I listened to details and methods for studying
an aspect of biology I knew nothing about, yet curiously
was completely engrossed. After several hours we both admitted,
no matter how meticulous the investigation and dedicated
the researcher, the results could provide only a peek at
a greater, unfolding mystery. Still, the careful process
of searching was exhilarating.
this new Century we are invited to join a revolution full
of the spirit and liveliness of exploration. And through
bringing the discipline of a scientist to the zeal of our
spiritual seeking the Unknown
calls to us to respond, not with fear but with fascination.