Life Is a Miracle: An Essay against Modern Superstition

Article excerpt

Life is a Miracle: An Essay against Modern Superstition. By Wendell Berry. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. 153 pp. $21.00 (cloth).

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the relationship between science and religion, science and the humanities, science and the arts. Much of the writing has come from the scientific community, perhaps because there are few who have not been trained in the sciences who feel bold enough to venture into this realm. Wendell Berry, writer, poet and farmer, is one who ventures in boldly. In Life is a Miracle, he calls for a "conversation out of school" among the sciences, religion, and the arts-a three-way conversation between equals. "It is clearly bad for the sciences and the arts to be divided into `two cultures.' It is bad for science to be working without a sense of obligation to cultural tradition. It is bad for artists and scholars in the humanities to be working without a sense of obligation to the world beyond the artifacts of culture" (p. 93). Berry's contention is that religion should not dispute what science has proven and science should not claim to know that which is unknowable; rather they should acknowledge and respect the strengths and limitations that each brings to the conversation and work together as equal partners, for the good of all.

Berry devotes a sizable portion of the book to a scathing critique of the essay Consilience by the Pulitzer Prize-winning sociobiologist E. 0. Wilson. Wilson proposes a plan to unify all branches of knowledge, which Berry most effectively exposes as nothing more than a proposal to resolve the tension between science and the other disciplines by giving preeminence to science and to the culture of global capitalism from which it has become inseparable. …

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