Monday, November 15, 2010

The Narrative Texture of Nature - a quotation from J. Haught's "Deeper than Darwin"

Thought provoking reading from Deeper Than Darwin: The Prospect For Religion In The Age Of Evolution

Celebrated academicians, for example, often think of the cosmos as a pointless swirl of mindless stuff on which a patina of life and mind glimmers feebly for a cosmic moment.5 The narrative texture of nature still lies largely unacknowledged. However, once we develop the habit of thinking of the cosmos as a story-as geology, biology and astrophysics now demand that we do-the universe again becomes something to be read, possibly at many levels of depth. We not only now find in nature features analogous to codes, alphabets, grammars and information. We can also make out the outline of a dramatic adventure. But shall we be able to find a "meaning" written there also?

Not if we persist in our literalism. Like all texts and stories, nature is susceptible to shallow readings that fail to get to its inner substance. Today, it seems to me, evolutionary materialism is a kind of "cosmic literalism" stuck on the surface of nature, satisfied with groundless claims that there is simply nothing beneath the "fundamental" laws of physics and natural selection. Just as biblical literalism remains content with a plain reading of scripture, the modern decision to understand the universe and the evolution of life as "merely material" is essentially a literalist flight from the depths of nature.
Today, we are all painfully aware of religious literalism and its sometimes hideous consequences. Literalism, of course, is one of the side effects of literacy.

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