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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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This wonder is different in quality from contemplative wonder, which does not undo but lets be. It involves a conception of science that extends knowledge but admits its limits. Some things are beyond its comprehension and remain intrinsically mysterious. Consciousness, morality and existence itself are obvious candidates - the things that the artistic, religious and moral imagination are so well equipped to ponder.
This difference between intrinsic and contemplative wonder echoes a great divide in the history of science. When the pre-Socratic natural philosophers speculated about the nature of the world, they were contemplating the nature of the gods too: when Pythagoras discovered his theorem it seemed obvious to him to find an altar and sacrifice an ox.
This changed with Francis Bacon, the author of the modern scientific method. He believed that science has the empirical world at its fingertips. Moreover, he thought God had given man the right to unpick and exploit it. "The secrets of nature are better revealed under the torture of experiments than when they follow their natural course," he wrote.
However, he also knew that this magisterium of experiment did not overlap with the magisterium of religion, which "extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value", in Stephen Jay Gould's famous formulation.
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