Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

https://clanton1934.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/09-wave.m4a10277582_1409440619343153_5070792898527382842_nImage courtesy of the artist: Urscia Mahring

“With malice toward none, with charity for alll, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all about  which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”(1)

For at least  three thousand years, people have been debating, and sometimes fighting wars because of conflicting views on the same subject. (2) For about the last one hundred years, in  The United States, a major debate has been between people  who find truth in faith vs. those who rely the objective findings of scientific scrutiny.  (3) 

 I was reared by the first group and I have spent most of my life doing research, teaching and practicing in the second group. With the following discussion, I am going to risk challenging both schools at the same time.  I realize this places me in small constituency; small but essential. Just as Lincoln needed to talk to disparate groups, I want to bridge the gap between “the faithful”  and “The scientists”.   I have found support for this by Jeremy English (4)  and Albert Einstein.(5)

The Renaissance man should not be unusual but be the goal of the common man; I challenge you to “walk a mile in one another’s moccasins”.

I believe that these diverse schools can be compared to men who have varying qualities of color-blindness (e.g. green/red or yellow/green). Each group looks at the same idea and because of the incomplete visual fields of each, those observers of life describe it differently.  (6)

Consider the parable of the blind men describing the elephant:  This analogy has been useful for millennia.

“The story of the blind men and an elephant originated in the Indian subcontinent from where it has widely diffused. It has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies; broadly, the parable implies that one’s subjective experience can be true, but that such experience is inherently limited by its failure to account for other truths or a totality of truth. At various times the parable has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behavior of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.” (7)

It is a parable that has crossed between many religious traditions and is part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. The tale later became well known in Europe, with 19th century American poet John Godfrey Saxe creating his own version as a poem. (8)

If I may state the obvious, both viewpoints see components of the truth. The reason each school of thought  is telling it differently, is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.

I propose that each of their fields of vision have significant blind spots. I yearn for a day when these two groups with blind spots, will find that their part of the elephant is only part of the whole of TRUTH.

There is a prominent man who is championing a similar vision whose name is Jeremy England.  He has been described as the man who has “one upped Charles Darwin”  and has credentials in both schools of faith and science.  (4)

“For his part, England believes science can give us explanations and predictions, but it can never tell us what we*should*do with that information. That’s where, he says, the religious teachings come in. Indeed, the man who’s one-upping Darwin has spent the past 10 years painstakingly combing through the Torah,*interpreting it word by word much the way he ponders the meaning of life. His conclusion? Common translation are lacking.  Take the term  “creation” England suggests we understand it not as the literal making of the Earth but rather as giving Earth a name. All throughout the Bible, he says, there are examples of terms that could be interpreted differently  from what we’ve come to accept as standard.”

In addition, a scientific icon, Albert Einstein, repeatedly was an advocate of subjective and spiritual components of human life. (5)

“The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary objects of human endeavour—property, outward success, luxury—have always seem to me contemptible.” AE

All life is one.  There is no them; there’s only us.

(1) Abraham Lincoln, The Second Inaugural Address. 1865

(2)  Herodotus, Histories,440 Bc

(3) The Scopes Trial 1925 www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/08/2/l_082_01.html
PBS

(4)  Jeremy Englandhttp:// http://www.ozy.com/rising-st…p-darwin/39217Jeremy England, the Man Who May One-Up Darwin
By Meghan WalshAPR 202015  OZY

(5) Albert Einstein, rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/EinsteinQuotes.html

(6) Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 2United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado

(7) Wikipedia

(8) http://www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/blind_men_elephant.html
Feb 2, 2008 – Jo

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