Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose

Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose

Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose

Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose

Synopsis

"This stimulating book offers candid reflections on the question of cosmic purpose written both by prominent scientists and by scholars representing the world's religious traditions. Examining the issue from a wide variety of perspectives, this is the only current book to deal with cosmic purpose from an interreligious and inter-disciplinary perspective." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Until the advent of modern science, human visions of reality were shaped by cultural and religious myths, most of which attributed an overarching “purpose” to the universe. In this age of science, however, many scientists and philosophers claim that our new knowledge offers little support for the existence of cosmic purpose or “teleology.” Some even suggest that natural science confirms the pessimistic view that the universe is essentially “pointless” and hence indifferent to humanity’s ageless quest for meaning.

Not all scientists share this view, however, and some would even argue that contemporary scientific knowledge is remarkably consonant with a religious sense of purpose in the universe. At the very least, scientists and scientific thinkers are now more willing than ever to converse with theologians and religious scholars on the question of whether the cosmic visions of the world’s great spiritual traditions can be reclaimed in an age of science.

The conference “Cosmology and Teleology” that led to the essays presented here is an example of such a conversation. Cosponsored by the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Program on Dialogue between Science and Religion, the conference deliberately sought out prominent scholars representing a wide range of perspectives on both cosmology and religion. Our objective was to have them candidly address the question of cosmic purpose from within their diverse disciplinary fields or in the context of distinct cultural and religious traditions. Although several participants were understandably reluctant to address this difficult question head-on, they nonetheless provided perspectives that must be taken into account whenever we ask today whether scientific learning plausibly permits a retrieval of the substance of classic religious and philosophical teachings about cosmic meaning.

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