The Spiritual Universe

In this essay, Lightman offers an epistemological study of science and religion, in which he wonders about the boundaries between their different kinds of knowledge. Espousing his devotion to the physical realm illuminated by science, he admits to moments in his (and everyone’s) life that defy reason, physical reality, scientific law…any explanation period. These moments are ineffable, otherworldly…or as he comes to posit, born from and belonging to the (or a) spiritual universe. Religion and science, in their purest forms, are driven by wonder. They just tend to different universes. Lightman, despite his scientific leanings, seeks to leave room for both. He admonishes the likes of Richard Dawkins, who expend needless energy trying to dispel any redeeming qualities of religion, and he asks simply that we admit to the possibility that what we currently know is limited, not only as it relates to the physical universe, which science will always work on, but to the spiritual one as well. Neither science nor religion may ever be able to give us the answers, but they each invite important questions, and we shouldn’t discredit one because of the other; they aren’t mutually exclusive.

Indeed, Horatio, there are always more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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