MENTORN BARRACLOUGH CAREY

"TESTING GOD: CREDO ERGO SUM"

Programme 3

 

Testing God

Danteís inferno:

"In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, within a dark wood where the straight way was lost."

Commentary:

For many of us, the straight way has been lost. Not because we lack faith. but because science has taught us to doubt what we cannot prove.

Cosmologist:

The way to understand nature is through science, based upon experiment, not through some sort of revealed truth of any scripture.

Neurologist:

Science says we need empirical data before we can accept something to be true.

Commentary:

But does the primacy of proof, really reflect the world we live in, the people we are?

Jocelyn Bell Burnell:

I think it is central to the human condition of many humans that they believe in a god. Okay, there are some characters, and some quite noisy characters, who refuse to believe in a god, but I think for many people, many races, many aeons, they have felt the need to acknowledge something bigger and beyond themselves.

 

Credo Ergo Sum

Commentary:

Itís hard to know what to believe these days.

 

The old certainties of religion seem out of place in a material world. But the new certainties of science donít always fill the gap.

Maxi Jazz: Vocalist, Faithless

And we donít believe the scientists. We totally and patently donít believe the politicians. Our parents donít seem to know whatís going on, so thereís two ways to go. You either go hunting yourself for something that resembles the truth to you, to give meaning to your life. Every human being needs meaning to their life. If you donít have meaning to your life, you go and you sell crack, or you do something wild, because why not?

 

VATICAN

Commentary:

Time was when religion offered that meaning. The Vatican City is a monument to the capacity of past generations, to believe in God without proof Ė but often without question either.

Monsignor robert sarno congregation for the causes of saints

Faith Ė there is no proof for faith, there is no proof for Godís existence.

I mean, the end and the purpose of god is not to find out that he exists, because while itís a basic premise that god exists, I mean, when we face god after this Ė after this life, heís not going to say, did you believe that I exist?

 

Even in his own time, the people of Christís time said to Him, give us a sign, give us some proof so that we can believe in you. By what authority do you say and do what you do? And Christ said, this is an evil generation that asks for a sign. No sign will be given it, but the sign of Jonah. As Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, so the son of man will be in the belly of the earth for three days. So, in other words, "the sign" with a capital THE, capital SIGN, is Christís resurrection. That is the sign.

Andy Clark:

Our strong tendency to believe in god is part of our drive to tell stories, to make sense of what would otherwise be gaps in our experience.

Commentary:

Andy Clarke is a cognitive scientist, trying to understand the nature of intelligence. He has a different certainty: that God is simply a by-product of activity in the human brain.

Andy Clark: Philosopher & Cognitive Scientist University of Sussex

Think of us as resource limited creatures, so we donít have infinite amounts of brain-power, and we donít have infinite amounts of time. We have to make our decisions on the hoof, and we have to make decisions on the basis of very limited information, and limited processing time. Add to that the fact that weíre social creatures, that we spend a lot of our time trying to deal with problems that we encounter in social situations, what that yields, I think, is a kind of intelligence that when it comes up against a spot where it canít make sense of how this gave way to this, it tends to interpose between the two things, a kind of will. Somebody wanted that to happen, thatís why it happened. And when we have events that we canít make sense of, I think we interpose a kind of unseen willer. So, to begin with, maybe you saw, you know, sunrise is often followed by sunset. We donít know why. Oh, but I know, I have this explanatory schemer in the back of my mind, when two things are systematically linked, but I canít see why. So I think that god is just part of a good story for making sense of a lot of things that otherwise wouldnít seem to make sense to us.

Commentary:

For most of our lives we can defer the choice of what to believe. But as we grow older, the questions often resurface, still unanswered, but now more pressing.

Robert Sarno:

There is nothing more horrific than knowing that we are going to die. If Iím going to die, and that Iím going to cease to be, then I kind of personally fall in to a total black hole. Then what is anything for? Where does anything have meaning? Where does anything fit?

 

The moment of death is the par excellence shocker in which you are confronted with the end of your existence, the meaning of your existence, the meaning of your life, of your person. It kind of really pushes us up against the wall, and says, you know, okay, now from here on where are you going to go?

Commentary:

For science, death is so certainly the end, that anything which argues against it can be nothing more than a comforting story. But there are people whose faith in something beyond death is based not on religious teachings but on what they feel is a direct and undeniable experience of God.

Heather Sloan:

When they opened me up, Iíd actually had a massive haemorrhage. I was actually pregnant. I had a pregnancy in the fallopian tube, and the tube had ruptured, and I was haemorrhaging internally from this incident.

 

I found myself standing beside the bed, but it wasnít me standing beside the bed, it was a shadow of me, I suppose youíd say, I donít know. And you then realised well, thatís a drip-stand and, oh, yes, thereís a tube and thereís some blood in it, and you realise itís attached to you, and you realise then itís you in the bed. So I was a bit confused. And I could hear somebody saying, you know, donít be too concerned, just come with me, but I didnít see anybody. And there was this really, really the most amazing bright light.

 

You are brought to meet this Ė the most amazing being, oh, boy. Power, love, compassion, absolutely profound being, and suddenly you think, well if this is heaven and Iím in front of who I think I am. Iím not really worthy to be here. Itís just this most overwhelming feeling of compassion and love. I think that is the thing that stays with you the strongest.

Commentary:

Conventional science says experiences like Heatherís are a sort of illusion, which must occur either when the person is losing consciousness or regaining it. But definitely NOT when clinically dead. Peter Fenwick is a neuro-psychiatrist who has been studying Near Death Experiences for over twenty years. He thinks there are problems with this conventional explanation

Peter Fenwick: Neuro-psychiatrist Institute of Psychiatry

Well, we know a lot of what happens when the heart stops, and what happens is that the brain rhythms are normal for about six seconds, and then they rapidly decay and you get a flat EG. Now a flat EG means that all those cortical structures, which create our world for us, are not working. So, if it doesnít occur as youíre going down, and if it doesnít occur while youíre in the depth of the experience, because it canít in our science, then it has to occur as youíre recovering? Now if you deprive the brain of oxygen and you recover from it, then your thinking is all over the place. But the thing about the near-death experience is itís highly lucid, and itís very clear. So it canít be in the confusional arousal, so when did it occur?

Commentary:

But no matter that we still do not understand when or why they occur; no matter how sincere people are when they say something real happened to them, mainstream science still insists the experience of God has no external reality.

Andy Clark

Thereís a lot of psychological research about this, just showing how we make things up, but we donít know weíre making them up. We find ourselves doing something, and we tell a story to make sense of it, and we honestly believe our own story. The thought is that thereís a bit of your brain and its job is to make sense of things, a bit like in a big firm, or a government. You have a public relations department, whose job is to make sense of what the firm does. Unfortunately, no-one in the firm tells them anything really, so they have very limited information to go on. But they have to tell a good story.

Bart Kosko: Electric Engineer University of Southern California

We are pattern recognition creatures. Weíre always looking for patterns and finding them even when they are not there. This is a case whereby its very construction we have four ink blots on the page, as the thing in itself, and yet our minds impose on that something that simply is not there, which is a square, with these illusory boundaries and contours. And I suspect, as weíre finding increasingly in the way brains process signals, this occurs throughout our reasoning systems: The desire to put in black and white boundaries without sufficient information to do so. God himself may simply be a kind of illusion, an artefact of our neural wiring as is the Kurnitzer square. We have a sense of shadow, a sense of seeing footprints without any concrete evidence.

Heather Sloan:

I could never have dreamed up that experience. Yes, your mind could create something, yeah, but Iím just one of thousands and thousands of people in the world, in this present time and through time, thatís had this experience and relates it. How did I come up with the same story, when Iíve never read it before or heard anything of it before? How does one quantify that?

Commentary:

Peter Fenwick knows there is no objective proof for what Heather has been through, but he believes it would be unscientific to ignore the fact that thousands of unconnected people from different cultures have had the same experience.

Peter Fenwick:

You come back to the fact that these experiences are part of the range of phenomenon that you can experience. You have to look at these experiences then, and see what value you are going to put on them. And the value youíre going to put on them are going to be two types. They're going to be cultural, in other words, our science says they don't exist, so it must be madness. Or they could be defining other aspects of reality, and you have to keep your mind open. I like that view any rate. Iím a wider viewer person rather than a narrow view person.

Commentary:

And it is not just Near Death Experiences which persuade Fenwick that so-called subjective experiences might have more reality than science recognises. There is also what he considers tantalizing evidence coming from prayer studies as well.

Peter Fenwick:

What weíre now finding is that subjective experience can directly affect the world.

Now, intercessionary prayer, where you pray to a god and a god produces changes in the person whoís being prayed for, I donít think is a good way of looking at it.But if you look at it as a specific mental intent, in other words, what one person is doing to influence another at a distance, and take prayer that way, and then ask your question, if I pray for something to happen, direct mental intent at a distance, does that work, then the answer is yes.

Commentary:

In the Vatican City, that answer is not a surprise. In a centuries old vault they keep records of what they call miracles: astonishing cures that have no scientific explanation and therefore can be attributed to the power of prayer.

Robert Sarno:

In order to arrive at the conclusion that a particular case is indeed a miracle, one must totally exclude any possible human intervention or human explanation of the case. Therefore, what happens is, these cases have to studied by the scientists involved in that particular specialization of medicine, and tell us beyond any shadow of a doubt, the cure was instantaneous, total, complete, perfect, lasting and scientifically inexplicable..

Commentary:

Fenwick is not trying to validate a role for God and the saints like the Vatican. But heís monitored several clinical studies in America, which appear to show that hospital patients being prayed for recover more quickly than those not being prayed for, regardless of their beliefs.

 

INTERCESSIONARY PRAYER

Peter Fenwick:

Now, all those studies show that intercessionary prayer produces an effect, and you canít deny it. The question is, was the trial conducted properly? In other words, did the people know that they were being prayed for, because then itís a placebo effect, and, as such, it becomes of much less interest. No, they were done properly. The major problem with prayer is that it is completely outside our current neuro-science.

 

Yes, it is heretical, but not really, because weíre dealing with scientific data. I mean, the data - if the dataís right, it needs explaining, if itís wrong, let us do the studies again until we get it right. But if there is really an influence of mind outside the brain, then one cannot argue any longer that mind is just the shuttling of chemicals within the neuro pile. You have to argue that mind may be a quite different animal from that. And if you accept that, then youíre going to have to look again at the fundamental structure which underpins our neuro-science.

 

HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT

Commentary:

Maybe Fenwick will never prove that there is an objective spiritual reality. But heís not alone among scientists in hesitating to write off as illusions the very things our experiences tell us are real.

 

"RIVER TO PRAY"

Commentary:

For scientists who thrive on a diet of objective proof, the problem of God is easy. He exists only in our minds. But not all scientists think like that these days.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell:

One of the things that I can never answer is whether my feeling that there is a god is simply some kind of neurological pattern in my brain. I have no answer to that, I just do not know. But the evidence would lead me to think otherwise, because Iím not the only person who feels this, who has the same experiences. And I can recognise what I call god in other people as well, itís not just in me.

Commentary:

This is where the battle for belief is being fought. Can something be called true if it is incapable of being proved true?

Andrew Newberg: Neurologist Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Religion often will supply answers through mystical experiences, where science says well, we need empirical data before we can accept something to be true. So thatís the real distinction between science and religion.

Commentary:

To find an objective cause for our sensation of the spiritual, brain scientists are trying to discover whether there is a part of the brain which is responsible for us and making us believe.

Andrew Newberg:

Some people try to find what they call like the god module, or a particular part of the brain which is involved in these experiences. Usually people look at the temporal lobe as the main area, because when you stimulate certain parts of the temporal lobe, you get hallucinations and visions.

 

Some would even go as far as to say that thatís really all these spiritual experiences are, theyíre just manifestations of different types of brain function.

Commentary:

This was the great hope of reductionist neuro-science, to explain God away as nothing more than a chemical phantom.Newburg decided to use the most reductionist technique, brain scanning, to investigate a different possibility, that spiritual experiences were real.

Andrew Newberg:

When people have spiritual experiences, you sort of have a blurring of that sense of your self and the rest of the world. A sense that the personís self sort of becomes one with something else.One of the functions that the brain does help us with is to orient ourselves with regards to the world. So we started out looking at people doing Tibetan Buddhist meditation. We scanned their brains at a resting state, and then during their quote, unquote, "peak of meditation".What we found in our work so far is that there is a relative decrease of activity in the area of the brain that does orient ourselves. So we think it makes a lot of sense that people would have the feeling of no space and no time, the feeling of oneness with something larger than themselves, and that that would be a very common way to express a spiritual feeling or a spiritual experience that they would have.

Commentary:

So it seemed that a sensation of God could be identified with a slowing down of activity in part of the brain. But that didnít prove God had no existence or that the experience was unreal.

Andy Newberg:

Neuro-science kind of takes us up to a certain level, at which point we can say this is what happens in the brain when the person describes such and such an experience, but it doesnít necessarily speak to the reality of those experiences. As an example, if we were to take an image of somebodyís brain while they were, letís say, looking at picture of an apple pie, well, we could show activity in the visual cortex and in the parts of the brain that would recognise it as an apple pie, but it doesnít tell you whether or not there really is an apple pie out there in reality.

 

In other words, if somebody has an experience of being close to god, or being one with god, we canít use brain science, per se, to say whether or not there was truly a joining with god.

 

FAITHLESS

Rollo:

The spiritual stuff exists between the lines, between the cracks of life now. But I think it definitely exists as much as itís ever done.

Sister Bliss: Faithless

Wasnít brought up spiritually in any way, I suppose, but my mother was an artist, and the way that she sensed the world wasnít in an organised way, it was a very sort of tactile, aesthetic sensibility, the colour of a sky, the pattern of the rain on a window. I think the way I perceive the world is very similar, itís much more emotional rather than logical.And, for me, that happens in a musical situation, if Iím making music, or Iím DJ-ing to people, I know it kind of sounds laughable when you think of the kind of mass Hedonism, and itís not very important, but, for me, itís the one place where it kind of transcends science, it transcends ego, it transcends individuals, and you get that, perhaps, grander spirit that people identify as god.

Rollo

Sometimes when certain records are played. The whole club, maybe three or four thousand people, are unified in that amazing moment. And I think that is probably what churches were like.

 

FAITHLESS

Commentary:

These experiences are impossible to measure, impossible to prove. But does that mean that the pleasure of music, the smell of a rose, the sensation of God, are all unreal?

Andrew Newberg:

We have a very strong sense that the reality that we call our everyday baseline reality is, in fact, real. When we have a dream, sometimes dreams can feel very real, but when you wake up from them you say, oh, that was just a dream. So that type of reality doesnít carry with it the same sense, the same strength of the sense that it is real, so we say, okay, thatís not really real. Now, the problem comes in when you start looking at mystical experiences, and very, very profound religious experiences, because in those states people describe them as being more real than our everyday reality.If we start to try to make a comparison of different levels of reality, how can we use neuro-science to tell us which one is more real? Well, you canít.

Commentary

And this is the par excellence shocker for neuro-science. It cannot tell us what is real and what is fantasy. Inside our brain, everything is a real experience, whether it can be objectively proved or not.

Andy Newberg:

We can only talk in terms of how that reality is felt by an individual, so that if weíre going to believe in our everyday reality, then thereís just as much reason to believe in the very powerful mystical experiences that people have had.

Brian Goodwin: Biologist Schumacher College

Well, this is where we have to clarify something quite fundamental. In our culture since Descartes and Galileo, thereís been a separation of the subjective and the objective. And that for me is a very destructive separation

Commentary:

That separation of what could be measured and observed from what could not was the means by which post Renaissance science simplified, understood and took control of the world. But that very triumph has left us, according to biologist Brian Goodwin, with a phoney war.

Brian Goodwin:

The narrowing that occurred in the Renaissance, with respect to the way of acquiring reliable knowledge of nature, that is focusing on quantities and the mathematisable relationships between them, so that we can predict and control, has had a concomitant effect on our view of ourselves. Itís not just nature that is reduced to mechanism, we are reduced to a mechanism. And the consequence of that is that we now have a situation in our culture where we essentially split in two. Thereís the part which is objective and real and mechanical, the neurons and the cells and the metabolism and the stuff that science says is real, then thereís the subjective part, which is regarded as epiphenomenal, unreal, subjective illusion, and yet we live our lives primarily in terms of that domain,the things that we value most in our lives, our relationships with others, our feelings and our intuitions.

 

To have those denied is to actually enter in to a serious pathology, and I think that now has become one of the deep dangers of this cultural split, and it needs to be healed.

Rollo:

Why would he bother? Why would he bother this all knowingÖ

Sister Bliss:

But every - every question, every answer you receive you could say why. Why is the sky blue? You get the scientific answer and then go, ĎBut why?í

Rollo:

Yeah, but Iím just saying, in the idea of god, you know, if I was God Ė alright, so itís all very beautiful, and you watch, sort of, Richard Attenborough, or David Attenborough, or whichever the wildlife guy is, - you know Ė and heís finding these beautiful things and stuff. But you still think to yourself, yeah, thatís really funky, but you think this God ainít just powerful, heís all powerful, by definition. He knows everything. Heís omni-everything. Why bother creating humans, man, you know. Or flowers, or you know. I donít know what better things Heíd have to do. But I donít think, we are close in any way to the so-called, at least Christian Godís image. Weíre a million miles away.

Commentary

We are sceptical of God because we have been conditioned to look for proof.

 

But modern science finds there much more in nature than simply God which has eluded tidy scientific conclusions.

Bart Kosko:

 

The simplest thing is as soon as somethingís either true or false, black or white, one or a zero, itís a perfectly natural way to begin. The trouble is to take that too seriously, which has all too often happened, not just in science, but throughout Western culture. And our very thinking, youíre either my friend or not, youíre with us or against us. Thereís a kind of binary instinct that we have, and it favours action. If youíre going through an intersection in a car very quickly, you have to decide whether to slam on the brakes or not at some hard black or white point. So binary logic is a good place to begin, but we donít want to end there. And, unfortunately, a lot of Western reasoning, from philosophy to modern science, has tried to copycat simple mathematical reasoning.

Commentary:

Kosko is a pioneer of a new reasoning system called fuzzy logic. Which is at the cutting edge of making computers more intelligent. He believes that scienceís desire for objective certainty has deep and subjective cultural roots.

Bart Kosko:

We want something we canít have. We want certainty with our statements. We want to say that when the sky is blue, if that statementís as true as one plus one equals two, or the statement that all bachelors are unmarried men. If we look at the structure of Western philosophy and belief systems, it comes down to the Greeks, who first codified the logic chopping of either/or, black or white reasoning, something either is true or is not true.

Commentary:

For Kosko, the way forward is to look to those other cultures, like Buddhism, which do not share our obsession with binary, black or white, logic.

Bart Kosko:

Some of the parables of the Buddha, the way to insight is to break through the false black and white world of words, and see the world as it is, highly uncertain, transient, non-linear, in shades of grey, without things being artificially true or false, or this or that. In short, breaking every Santa Claus assumption that we make in modern science and mathematics.

 

It simply wonít do as a cultural fiat to say that everything is black or white, just because thatís how early scientists proceeded. We can do better than that now.

Commentary:

Koskoís fuzzy logic is his way of doing better. The new system goes beyond conventional digital, binary logic to handle these uncertainties.

Bart Kosko:

Fuzzy logic captures how we reason with shades of grey, and outside of mathematics or politics, there are very few issues that are black and white. So if you want to understand the world and how we reason about it, youíre forced to confront uncertainty at the very level of truth, of something is 80% true and 20% false, that a pink rose is 80% red and 20% not red, for example.

 

We never have total information, what information we do have is highly uncertain, shot through with errors, safe to assume half of what we know is false. We donít know which half. What we do think is true, we donít know to what degree itís true. And weíre forced by necessity to work with the highly uncertain fuzzy data, and to that extent we reason in a fuzzy way. The more interesting question though is the world itself uncertain.

Joycelyn Bell Burnell:

One of the things that physicists have had to live with for the last 70 years is whatís known famously as Heisenbergís Uncertainty Principle. Itís touching at something very big and very profound, and itís saying that at the heart of physics, and therefore I would argue at the heart of everything, there is inherent uncertainty. You cannot know everything absolutely all the time, and thatís the way the world is. And you may not like it, and I know people who donít like it. I know people whoíve said that Heisenbergís Law should be taken off the statute book, because it ainít right, but it is right, it is there, and you either live with it, or you go mad.

Commentary.

And if there can be no certainty about nature, should we be surprised that there can be no final certainty about God? For George Steiner, one of the foremost literary critics in the world, living without certainty is a strength not a weakness.

George Steiner: Cultural Critic University of Cambridge

There is a great discipline for those who try to remain in unknowing, in not knowing. It is a discipline of, yes, of respect in front of what the questions really are. I would like to emphasise this. One possible definition of what we call god is the respectful acknowledgement of the extreme limitation of our own means of understanding. Could put it that way.This is also of the essence to me of philosophy. Heidegger makes a wonderfully simple, brutal distinction, why is science such nonsense, because it has answers. And that over-states it, but itís worth thinking about.

Commentary:

But after 400 years of scientific and cultural commitment to the ideals of a black and white clockwork universe, we face a revision of far more than just science. Proof as the mark of respectability is deeply embedded throughout our culture.

Bart Kosko:

In the old world of Newton, if we could zoom in close enough with a god-like microscope, weíd find everything fixed like atomic building blocks with perfect precision. We donít find that. The more we zoom in, the more the theory kind of falls apart at the boundary, more jagged the edges, the more uncertain the system.

Commentary:

According to the classical Newtonian world-view, uncertainty would always eventually be resolved in to certainty, every blurred boundary eventually sharpened to black and white clarity. And underpinning it, an elegant geometry of lines and predictability.But the uncertain universe, our universe, we are discovering, is underpinned by different geometries, geometries of strange and chaotic shapes, called fractals, where the boundaries between black and white are jagged, infinite and irresolveably complex.

Bart Kosko:

In the case of the fractal universe, or of the truly random universe, the more we zoom in it doesnít ultimately get flat, its just as random as when we first started zooming in. We may have some rough idea of the rules of the game, but weíll never know the exact pattern of the universe, just like the burning of a log. That flame is a unique pattern that will never occur again in this universe, and thatís a very simple kind of pattern. And the universe has so many variables connected in so many complicated ways that we canít imagine the novelty.So whether we experience our universe directly or model it inside of a computer with fractual related rules, we have a world thatís forever fresh. We never have to live in the same world twice.

Commentary:

If the universe itself is poised in the narrow strip of restless potential that is the boundary between black and white, yes and no, hardly surprising that our own experiences, including belief in God, are defined by the unprovable.

Bart Kosko:

The human condition is fundamentally uncertain. Our brains, how they operate are shot through with uncertainty. The world is shot through with uncertainty. And that uncertainty is like a cabinet with many drawers. One drawer is the probability drawer, another is the fuzzy drawer, another is the ambiguity drawer, And the closer we look at the universe, the more complicated it gets. And we try to make the best of it.

Commentary:

The glimmerings of a scientific answer to the question of how our brains negotiate this eternal uncertainty is coming from scientists who are trying to build intelligent machines.

Andy Clark:

Can you imagine a machine that spent all its time checking that everything that it currently assumed still remained true before it generated an action? That would be the super, proper, clear intelligent way to behave on one understanding, but it would never do anything at all. It would spend all its time sitting there, checking its assumptions, and that, of course, that wouldnít look like intelligence to us. It would actually look like a kind of cognitive deficit.

Commentary:

Clark has come to the unexpected conclusion that an intelligent robot could never be the Spock-like, super-rational being of science fiction. Belief without total knowledge, far from being primitive, is the very thing that makes them and us, smart.

Alan Clark:

Any machine, any intelligent machines will have to sometimes believe things on the basis of evidence that, in itself, is inadequate or insufficient, because otherwise you would just never get anything done. If we built a machine that believes some things that didnít seem well grounded to me, and I asked it about them, and it said, well, no, I just believe this, and it seems to be useful for finding my way around in the world, I would think, yeah, this looks more like an intelligent machine than anything that Iíve encountered so far.

Commentary:

The fact that a machine will need to believe in order to act then raises the question whether, ultimately, belief in God would be part of its intelligence.

Alan Clark:

I think that the notion of belief isnít far removed from the notion of faith. Any machine, any intelligent machine will have to start somewhere. So, I think that if we created something that we could recognise as intelligence, then it would have a strong tendency to believe in god.

Commentary:

And, so in the end, we believe because belief itself is written into the very fabric of this universe; as the only way of negotiating the complexities and uncertainties of life.

Brian Goodwin:

At the beginning of the 21st Century with a more mature science, what comes back is a recognition that we need to have a sense of humility again. And we need to take responsibility for our actions. What I think weíre learning is that with respect to living in these complex systems, we have to cultivate a different way of knowing, which is backed up by analysis. But instead of saying quantities and mathematics are the primary ways of knowing, I would say itís the other ways of knowing that are primary, and mathematics and quantities can be used to reinforce and back them up.We donít lose reductionism, we donít lose mathematics, we donít lose anything of value in Western culture, but we expand it in ways that allows it to heal these pathologies that have been generated by its own limitations.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell:

Iíve come to think that weíre meant to live with lack of proof and so on, as a reaction to what some of my fellow scientists believe. If you work with people who want everything sewn up exactly, everything in black and white and crisp, you begin to realise that youíre losing quite a lot of the texture of life. Lifeís not black and white, there are tones of grey and thereís different degrees of speckellediness, and thereís glory in that, and in dappled things too. And so I have become suspicious of the neat package, something that is sewn up perfectly. I think we have to work with unknowns and unsolved and unresolved. I think thatís where the art of living is.

George Steiner:

The Torah, Jewish holy books, have no answers, they have only questions. If you had ask me to define the very essence of the difference from other religions, itís that constant dialectic of questioning. All you can do is ask and keep asking. In the very last moment, at the point of your death, in Kafkaís great parable, you whispered, you idiot, the answer was always there, but, of course, it isnít given to you, it isnít given to you.

Weíre an animal that goes around asking questions. Questioning is the absolute duty of the soul, the human spirit. Whereas there are sensibilities which rejoice in the certitude of an answer, ours is, I think, on the whole, afraid of what might be the terrible boredom of paradise, the unimaginable. Iíve never believed, for a minute, that Adam and Eve didnít know what they were doing. They couldnít stand another day in that Swiss sanatorium, and by being banished in to history, in to the agony of the world, life became enormously interesting.

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