Good Lord preserve us from fundamentalism

June 18, 2008

One can get very depressed flicking between television channels early in the morning in the US. I’ve ended up with a very scary documentary about Jerry Falwell who died a year ago. In parallel I have been reading Stuart Kaufmann’s new book Reinventing the Sacred which reminds me a lot two Jesuit philosophers who profoundly influenced my early thinking, namely Teilhard de Chardin and Karl Rahner. Now none of the three would agree, but all are seeking to celebrate and understand the creativity that we encounter in the natural world. Kaufmann, one of the founders of complexity theory and a leading if controversial biologist provides a wonderful antidote to the fundamentalism of Dawkins. He challenges Hume’s famous dictum that you cannot derive ought from is and his agenda is to find a “third way” between a meaningless reductionism and a transcendental Creator God which preserves awe, reference and spirituality – and achieves much more. The contrast with the primitive, doctrinaire and commercial (check their web sites, they both sell T shirts) fundamentalism of Falwell and Dawkins could not be greater.

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