Synopses & Reviews
Consider the woven integrated complexity of a living cell after 3.8 billion years of evolution. Is it more awe-inspiring to suppose that a transcendent God fashioned the cell, or to consider that the living organism was created by the evolving biosphere? As the eminent complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman explains in this ambitious and groundbreaking new book, people who do not believe in God have largely lost their sense of the sacred and the deep human legitimacy of our inherited spirituality. For those who believe in a Creator God, no science will ever disprove that belief. In Reinventing the Sacred, Kauffman argues that the science of complexity provides a way to move beyond reductionist science to something new: a unified culture where we see God in the creativity of the universe, biosphere, and humanity. Kauffman explains that the ceaseless natural creativity of the world can be a profound source of meaning, wonder, and further grounding of our place in the universe. His theory carries with it a new ethic for an emerging civilization and a reinterpretation of the divine. He asserts that we are impelled by the imperative of life itself to live with faith and courage-and the fact that we do so is indeed sublime. Reinventing the Sacred will change the way we all think about the evolution of humanity, the universe, faith, and reason.
"Kauffman, a complexity theorist at the University of Calgary, sets a huge task for himself in this provocative but difficult book: to find common ground between religion and science by redefining God as not a 'supernatural Creator' but as 'the natural creativity in the universe.' That creativity, says Kauffman, defies scientific assumptions that the biosphere's evolution and human activity can be reduced to physics and are fully governed by natural laws. Kauffman (At Home in the Universe) espouses emergence, the theory of how complex systems self-organize into entities that are far more than the sum of their parts. To bolster the idea of this 'ceaselessly creative' and unpredictable nature, Kauffman draws examples from the biosphere, neurobiology and economics. His definition of God as 'the fully natural, awesome, creativity that surrounds us' is unlikely to convince those with a more traditional take on religion. Similarly, Kauffman's detailed discussions of quantum mechanics to explain emergence are apt to lose all but the most technically inclined readers. Nonetheless, Kauffman raises important questions about the self-organizing potential of natural systems that deserve serious consideration." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A compelling and sweeping argument that complexity theory can build a bridge between science and religion
About the Author
Stuart A. Kauffman is the founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics and a professor of biological sciences, physics, and astronomy at the University of Calgary. He is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His books include The Origins of Order and At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. He lives in Calgary, Canada.