Lord Rees, president of the UK’s premier scientific organisation the Royal Society, has just made a provocative public statement in a Sunday Times (UK) interview, featured in an article by Jonathan Leake in that newspaper on 13.06.10. He ‘suggests that the inherent intellectual limitations of humanity mean we may never resolve questions such as the existence of parallel universes, the cause of the big bang, or the nature of our own consciousness.’
Rees, who is also professor of cosmology at Cambridge University, is ‘one of Britain’s most respected astrophysicists’. His warning, reports the article, is ‘partly prompted by the failure of scientists working on the greatest problem of modern physics – to reconcile the forces that govern the behaviour of the cosmos, including the planets and stars, with those that rule the so-called microworld of atoms and particles.’
To read this fascinating article by Jonathan Leake, which is bound to stimulate heated debate, click ‘D’oh, we may never decode the universe’
I found it heartening: to read about such an eminent scientist exhibiting some humility was most refreshing. It was also timeous from a personal point of view. I have now been running ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ for nearly two years, its mission statement being ….
…. to support, encourage, inspire and entertain open-minded people who, like me, are exhilarated and amazed by the beauty, mystery and complexity of the worlds we human beings inhabit – and for those writers and readers who share my preoccupation with questions of meaning, pattern and purpose….
It has been wonderful to make contact with so many open-minded folk like myself, who share my great appreciation for contemporary science and cosmology for revealing over the last few centuries the fantastic cosmos we know we inhabit thanks to the truly mind-boggling achievements of science. But we are very aware now of the shadow side of scientific progress which has immeasurably improved the lot of much of humanity but has also – in the hands of we all-too-fallible humans – wreaked havoc and destruction on our beautiful, fragile, tiny planet.
In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has just admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.
We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of The Big Why.
So my Really Big Why is this: WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?
The great and ancient art and science of astrology has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from “The Sleepwalkers”:
“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”
So I find it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, and concentrate from now on what unites us – rather than what divides us.
At this point I would like to hand over to my friend and colleague from New York, fine astrologer, Renaissance woman (check her Bio on her site!) and keeper of The Inner Wheel blog Dawn Bodrogi, my latest Guest on “Writing from the Twelfth House”, who has just written a deep, well-informed and eloquent piece on the very theme which has been preoccupying me even more than usual of late! Over to you, Dawn…..
The Measurers versus The Metaphysicians
Dawn says : ” I don’t often get angry if I meet folks who find astrology incredulous, or even ridiculous. I find their worship of science and technology as the answer to everything faintly ludicrous, and am happy to agree to disagree about fundamental life views. I know my method makes sense, they know theirs does, we’re all happy. Science is a system which proposes to impose meaning on the random and chaotic. So does astrology. The mandate of astrology is that life has an underlying pattern we are trying to discover. So does science. Astrology declares that there is an underlying direction that can be discerned by understanding astrology’s laws. So does science, with its laws. Both are based on mathematical principles. Looked at through a slightly skewed mirror, astrology and science have a lot in common…..” To read the rest of this article, click HERE
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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dawn Bodrogi 2010
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