Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Cosmology and our View of the World


Intersection between Science & Mysticism, Lead: Donald Gagnon


Summary by Jared Troutman:

Science & Mysticism

Donald was the presenter of the "Intersection between Science and Mysticism" topic. He began by explaining that interplay may better describe the relationship of science and mysticism. For Donald, science is interested in how things work and mysticism is interested in why things are. He continued be explaining there is an underlying unity of science and mysticism, which is the state of reality, and the truth. To understand this point Donald used the analogy of a coin saying, "Science and mysticism are two sides of the same coin." Another way to understand this same point was pointed out later by an analogy to the Moebius strip. There appears to be two sides to the strip but its really only one surface.

The discussion took no time to get started after DonaldŐs initial presentation. The point of mysticism being a question of why things are was challenged. Professor Paul Brokelman provided a position in which mysticism was not interested in answering any questions. He explained that mysticism is concerned with encountering reality, not in answering any sort of questions. Prof. Brokelman passionately told the story of his first mystical experience when he was not answering questions, but rather, he was blown away by the wonderment that is reality. According to Prof. Brokelman, science can bring us to the mystery that is life, but when it forgets that feeling of mystery it makes a wrong move.

Prof. Brokelman followed this discussion by pointing out how revolutionary a discussion between "science" and "mysticism" is in this day and age. For hundreds of years, mysticism was considered mumbo-jumbo by the scientific community. Prof. Moebius agreed, and made a comparison between how Weber approaches science and mysticism from a new perspective in which they work together, just like how quantum mechanics gained a new perspective in which to have a theory of light as particle and wave.

Prof. Davis shifted the conversation by asking why it is always assumed that the ultimate explanation of reality is in terms of a unity. Prof. Davis didnŐt consider what he does as a biologist to be striving towards a unity. An analogy to a bricklayer was made to show how the bricklayer might not be striving for unity while laying brick. Despite this the bricklayer is involved in the unity of the building whether he or she is aware of it. An objection was made to the analogy because it implied that humans were constructing the unity, when in fact it may already be there. It has been the task of many academics in human history to look for the one in the many, or the unchanging within the changing. Prof. Davis fully agreed with the previous historical point and said that we have been imposing our psychological weakness on our descriptions of reality. In his view there is a strong possibility of a multiplicity.

April 30, 2002