When electricity flows around a circuit, it is the flow itself that makes the light glow. A light switch can be placed at any point and stop the flow with a very small break in the circuit, a break that is in the words of the great Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, "a rut any frog could straddle."
It seems to me that the schism between religion and science is such a rut. In fact, I stole the quote from an essay about Christopher Hitchens's atheism. His close friend and fellow essayist Martin Amis used it to describe the relationship between his own agnosticism and Hitchens's avowed hatred of religion.
Amis may not only have been right, but the quote could aptly be used to describe the apparently large gulf that lies between the world of science and the more spiritual perspective of those with religious beliefs. That the gulf is a lot smaller than people think, and that is only the mulelike stubborness of the two parties that prevent it from being bridged. It is also absolutely necessary for our survival that it is bridged.
I often use the the story of Galileo's experience before the Papal inquisition in 1616 to be the point where the great split between science and religion occurred. It is a perfect mythological moment in History. The Pope spoke for God, or at least the people thought he did, and science, an upstart, in the shape of one of its founding fathers, was ordered to Rome to talk to Papa.
This is the scene straight out of the movie East of Eden where James Dean tries to please his dad and instead incurs his wrath. In the movie, Dean's character rushes out of the room with his love for his father changed into undying rage and hatred. Or at least, that's the way it appeared on the surface of things. In reality, the love remained, but it was the the rejection that drove the son out into the world bent on revenge.
It is a little known fact, to today's world, that many of the great scientists of that age held deeply religious beliefs, Newton and Descartes to name just two. Newton spent the last three years of his life trying to reconcile his religion with his views on determinism.
Angered by what they considered insolence, the Church threw down a rather dangerous gauntlet to those who held with Copernicus's vision of an earth that revolved around the sun: Espouse that shit and be branded a heretic. Be branded a heretic, get your ass cooked on an open flame. Science was told in no uncertain terms by the very voice of God that scientifically proven truth was not to be allowed.
The Pope, you remember, spoke for God, and God stated unequivocally that it was the other way around. The Church blew it by disdaining to lower itself to even consider that the other side might have some valid points that might actually be used to explain the whys and wherefores of life on Earth.
There were some theological concepts that they could have used to defend the existence of a man centered universe. For example, If I go outside naked, plant my two feet firmly on the ground and stretch my arms up towards the heaven, I am, in a very real sense, the center of my own universe as I stand between infinity and mortality, between the macrocosm and the microcosm, between life and death, and between the subconscious and the material world. This is probably some of the meaning behind the picture drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci of Vitruvian Man.
Outside man is circled by the horizon and underneath the center of the domed sky. At any point he stands, the axis of the earth runs through him and out towards the center point of that dome. That shit has to mean something. The arc that defines the relationship between that axis and the axis the runs through Earth's poles exists and therefore has meaning.
And actually, I don't have be naked to do that, but I thought the image might get a rise.
The ancient Greeks recognized this state of being between things and called it Metaxy. They referenced it as the diametric opposition between the gods Apollo, the god of the Su and lines, angles, and materialism, and the god Dionysus, the god of wine, song,creativity, poetry and the subconscious. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, served as the interface between the two.
If some of these people would get their heads out of their asses long enough, they might notice that this opposition that the Greeks referenced has a direct correlation with the structure of our brains with the analytical left brain, creative right brain, and the corpus callosum that helps them both function at maximum efficiency.
It has more than one religious correlation too. The Holy Trinity, for example, has more than a passing resemblance to this concept. So does the concept of sacred numbers. If the universe is actually one thing (and it is), all things within it are one big thing too. Yet, our existence in a material world lies in being defined against this uniformity.
For example, to give anything a name, you not only look at all the qualities that make that thing what it is, but must you also rule out all of the things that it is not. If there is something that creates a walled off existence from the whole, there also has to be an interface between the two. In other words, the universe can be described by the following formula, This- the whole, That - the separated entity, and the Other - the interface. And this is the primal relationship that underscores our life on this planet.
I once wrote a satirical essay about the geographical relationship of a man's ass to his brain. I pointed out that it is thing and therefore contain some meaning that science is at a loss to explain other than by saying something lame like we need distance between our brain and our anus so that we don't get skidmarks on the back of head when we wipe our ass.
It is thoughts like this, a lot of them less humorous, to be sure, but existing and therefore demanding the extraction of meaning. Science is very ill suited for this purpose as the answers being sought are of an esoteric nature and science refuses to acknowledge their existence.
The scene with Galileo is so universal that it was predicted by the Bible and later used by Steinbeck to show its enduring truth. Freud made a big fuss over what it means to the development of the individual and Sophocles encoded it in Oedipus Rex. Yet, for the most part, Science ignores its import and will have to one day lose its eyesight from straining after the smallest data only to suddenly discover that it has no meaningful context and that all their work and efforts has only led them drunkenly into the bedroom of a painted whore.
That they could have come to agreement way the fuck back then, which would have saved the world a lot of problems, but that really wasn't what the fight was all about. Both sides were arguing for for their right to exist. Whoever controls the narrative of primal causes speaks as the voice of God. The Church usurped the role from Mythology, its own father, during the Middle Ages and used it to gain both great wealth and worldly power, but lost its own soul in the process.
Science sought and has become the one that gets to do all of the explaining. And while there is no arguing that the Scientific Method has resulted in a lot of great things for mankind, you also can't argue that millions have also died as a results of such social and technological gains. Communism is a result of rational thinking, as is fascism, the Atom bomb, carpet bombing, poison gas and machine guns. It has also caused great pain in millions of heart as it has removed the reason for existence and substituted in its place a poster of man in a white lab coat pointing at open grave with the words "Right as Fuck," written across the image with big block letters.
The worst thing about science, however, is the fact that it has gotten used to sitting in the Papal throne and using the megaphone that belongs to God. This has caused them to steadfastly deny anything that smacks of a spiritual outlook, ironically having reversed the roles of Galileo's inquisition.
If there was an actual face of science, it, strangely enough, would be two sided with one side looking like Walt Disney, and the other like the face of Adam Schiff only dressed in some of somber spooky looking clothes like Darth Vader wore in Star Wars.
The crazy thing is that science has hung its claims on the back of Isaac Newton's physics of cause and effect (Hell, even he argued against that). In so doing, they have ignored a lot of contrary evidence that should have been made public about Quantum Physics, the mists of potentiality, synchronicity, and other things which point to the idea that the thoughts of mankind creates the universe that he beholds.
The Theory of Evolution says essentially that organisms survive by becoming the best at what they do. They go extinct when they don't. How is that any different from what Christ says in the Parable of the Talents? The idea that organisms must improve to survive should at least give some credence to the idea that life has some creative purpose. Otherwise, why are these living organisms compelled to survive? In the world of cause and effect, there is no reason why the survival of life should prove so powerful and important that even a single blade of grass can force its way to the surface through a crack in solid concrete. Damn, what a metaphor you would miss by only thinking empirically.
It is the same message as what is embodied in all great literature where the main character has to overcome obstacles in order to bring about a fundamental transformation himself, a transformation that would improve not only the self but the community. Literature, like religion, sprang up out of mythology and may be in fact, be the way that the Great Myth has managed to survive in a era where the church wanted to dig up and destroy all of Christianity's connections to the ancient world.
And religion plays its own role in the perpetuation of the half truths. It has become so antagonistic to empiricism that it refuses to explore to the idea some type of evolutionary process might be the way that God acts in the material world preferring instead to attribute everything to divinely inspired intervention and miracles. Science fails to acknowledge the effects of force over great distance, and religion sees nothing else.
It is strange phenomena that there are so many things that would suggest that science and religion should be working together to the great benefit of all mankind. There are simple things that we often simply ignore because we are being blinded and misguided by the mindless blathering of one side or the other.
There is a much smaller gap between religion belief and science than they would have us believe, a rut so small that a frog's ass can bridge it.
And there's also a good reason that a frog's ass is a perfect size for the job. A human ass is much too big and way too prideful to perform such a humble task.