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The banquet where science dines with religion

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    The banquet where science dines with religion

    I found this incredible article while poking around on my computer-

    Why Would a Catholic Priest Blog About Science?

    In the current debate between science and religion, Plato’s Symposium has a lot to offer. Not because the philosophers at the event talked about science in any modern sense (they didn’t), nor because the discussion was invested with a proper dose of academic gravitas (it wasn’t). On the contrary, it was a drinking party, and everyone was having a good time. In fact, that is what symposium actually means in the original Greek. And this has much to teach us. First of all, it reminds us that we should exhibit the good fellowship and enthusiasm of brothers and sisters (OK, they excluded women in those days) and of kindred explorers of the boundless marvels of the universe. Allied with this, it proposes that reality is a banquet (a frequent alternate translation of “symposium”)—unbelievably tasty and enormously filling. The image and implication of intoxication is a telling one since one can and should be inebriated and delighted by the splendor of the real, as opposed to sinking into the dour servitude of gouty dogmatism of whatever flavor.
    If we adopt this stance, we discover that not just love but also truth is a “many-splendored thing.” That is a primary lesson we need to grasp before proceeding any further in the debate between science and religion. We need to stretch our minds and hearts and let them roam free outside of the narrow prisons and blinkered perspectives in which we tend to incarcerate them, and let ourselves embrace and be braced by the currents of reality around us. When I was in college, a little-known work by Jacques Maritain was my secular bible and vade mecum: The Degrees of Knowledge. To return to the metaphor, this volume spread out the full, sumptious repast of reality, from electrons to the empyrean, with dazzling epistemological virtuosity, illustrating in detail how each level of our experience of the real, from empirical science to mysticism, has its own rules of exploration. It taught how to savor everything on the table, and to escape the inevitable indigestion or starvation that would result from eating only dessert or appetizers.
    So, as we enter the dining hall, let us begin by establishing our rules of etiquette, our epistemological table manners, so to speak. Those who prefer appetizers (science, let us say—no value judgment implied!) have every right to their tastes, and they may refrain from dessert, if they wish (religion, let us suppose). Others may leap right to the dessert, and skip the appetizers. Many will say, perhaps rightly, that both groups are missing out on something tasty; but, what they eat is their own decision. What we cannot allow is a discourse in which one group chastises the other as idiots or hypocrites because of their particular preference. De gustibus non disputandum. So, both science and religion beware!
    Last edited by Acarson; 10 Oct 2007, 3:17 PM.