Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion

Stuart A. Kauffman, Author
Stuart A. Kauffman, Author . Basic $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-465-00300-6
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-465-01888-8
Open Ebook - 337 pages - 978-0-465-01240-4
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-282-74747-0
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Kauffman, a complexity theorist at the University of Calgary, sets a huge task for himself in this provocative but difficult book: to find common ground between religion and science by redefining God as not a “supernatural Creator” but as “the natural creativity in the universe.” That creativity, says Kauffman, defies scientific assumptions that the biosphere’s evolution and human activity can be reduced to physics and are fully governed by natural laws. Kauffman (At Home in the Universe ) espouses emergence, the theory of how complex systems self-organize into entities that are far more than the sum of their parts. To bolster the idea of this “ceaselessly creative” and unpredictable nature, Kauffman draws examples from the biosphere, neurobiology and economics. His definition of God as “the fully natural, awesome, creativity that surrounds us” is unlikely to convince those with a more traditional take on religion. Similarly, Kauffman’s detailed discussions of quantum mechanics to explain emergence are apt to lose all but the most technically inclined readers. Nonetheless, Kauffman raises important questions about the self-organizing potential of natural systems that deserve serious consideration. (May)

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