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The Beauty of Explained Miracles

Ville Kokko

Posted on December 2, 2018 14:02

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Sometimes, people are motivated to resist any explanation of that which they find spiritually important and uplifting. At other times, it is the explanation that creates the spiritual beauty.

There's this idea that science takes away the wonder and beauty in the world by explaining it.

But there's also this idea that science reveals the beauty of the universe by showing more of it. I'm definitely in this latter camp myself.

Some see this revealed beauty as that of God's design. Others do not. I think it works either way – and adding God hardly makes it all any greater than it already is.

A number of authors have expressed this idea, though it seems as though it always remains no more than the view of a large minority. For example, consider this quote from the blurb for Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman:

Consider the woven integrated complexity of a living cell after 3.8 billion years of evolution. Is it more awesome to suppose that a transcendent God fashioned the cell at a stroke, or to realize the truth: the living cell evolved with no Creator, no Almighty Hand, but arose on its own, created by the evolving biosphere? The truth is much more magnificent, much more worthy of awe and wonder, than our ancient creation myths.

Reinventing the Sacred proposes a new understanding of a natural divinity based on an emerging, scientifically based world view. Complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman does not propose somehow to insert “god” into a cold, lifeless universe. Instead he argues that the qualities of divinity that we hold sacred — creativity, meaning, purposeful action — are in fact properties of the universe that can be investigated scientifically.

The evolution of life is one particularly awe-inspiring aspect of the world. When Richard Dawkins is writing about his own area of expertise instead of attacking religion, you can feel the awe and the spirituality.

This does not mean his science is some kind of unscientific religious belief, of course. That's rather the point here – that real science can be a source of spiritual awe. Real science with real explanations.

Obviously, when you grasp an idea like evolution and see how it explains the world, you don't know how everything about life is explained in detail by evolution. In that sense, there is no absolute distinction between explained miracles and the awe at the thought of everything being part of a grand design by God. They are merely points on a spectrum.

Yet, some people sometimes seem more intent on preserving the miracles by not letting them be explained, whereas some at some times delight in the more detailed explanations.

I like my magic with understanding of how it works, because that allows getting in touch with it much better than saying it's a miracle. I have an example in mind that I might come back to next week, unless some other topic pushes past it.

Ville Kokko

Posted on December 2, 2018 14:02

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