Earlier this week I attended a guest lecture by Stuart Kauffman, who is an experimental-theoretical biologist known for his work on the self-organizing properties of complex systems and the origin of life. It was a thought provoking talk given by someone with a most impressive mind. In his recent book, Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion, Kaufmann argues:
the becoming of the universe, biopshere, economy, and culture cannot be sufficiently described by natural laws, but are creative and open, that we not only do not know what will happen, but do not even know what can happen. Thus, reason is an insufficient guide to living our lives forward and we must reunite our entire humanity, find a sharable sense of the sacred, and a global ethic to undergird the generative coevolution of our 30 or more civilizations.
Although Kaufmann contends that this argument is “radical,” I had the distinct feeling that I have heard similar things before. Given the vast scope of Kaufmann’s work, it will take several posts simply to unpack his ideas and comment on them. Expect to see such posts in the future.
In the meantime, you can get a sense for Kauffman’s thinking over at the NPR blog, Cosmos and Culture, where he is engaged in a running dialogue with some of his colleagues. It will elasticize your mind.