Thursday, March 10, 2005

Can Theology Converge with Physical Reality?

Courtesy of the Claremont Institute:

A $1.5 million Templeton prize for progress in spiritual knowledge was awarded to UC Berkeley physicist Charles Townes, 89 (Larry Stammer, LAT).

Townes, winner of a Nobel prize and co-inventor of the laser, argues that science and religion are converging:

"If you look at what religion is all about, it's trying to understand the purpose and meaning of our universe," he said in a telephone interview from New York this week. "Science tries to understand function and structures. If there is any meaning, structure will have a lot to do with any meaning. In the long run they must come together."

Townes said that it was "extremely unlikely" that the laws of physics that led to life on Earth were accidental.

Townes’ argument supports the intelligent design research of the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute. His views are likely to draw strident criticism. Consider the Feb. 7 NY Times op-ed by biologist Michael Behe, which argued for intelligent design, a conception of life that opposes Darwinism. Note as well philosopher of science Stephen Meyer’s work on DNA and intelligent design.

All of these approaches attempt to expand the narrow scientific rationalism which dominates investigation into physics, biology, and the material side of our being. The biblical account of these grand themes would of course not require confirmation by science. What is important here is that our thinking about nature—regardless of our religious beliefs—be enriched by the notion of what Aristotle called final causes, that is, purposefulness. Just as Aristotle’s Politics never loses relevance, so it is with Aristotle’s Physics, his discourse on nature, which discusses the four causes or origins of motion in the universe.

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