Science and the Search for Meaning

Perspectives from International Scientists

Edited by Jean Staune

Foreword by Philip Clayton

As the organizer of some of the most important meetings in science and religion in Europe, Jean Staune is in a core position to report on the dialogue between science and religion, primarily from the views of scientists. In this book, the translation of a recent French edition, he presents "audacious and rigorous" articles by fifteen renowned leaders in the field, of whom four are Nobel Prize winners. They represent nine countries and seven religions.

"At no other point in the history of modern science have so many distinct debates converged upon a few central questions," points out Philip Clayton in the foreword. He identifies these questions as:

Is the world studied by science the only reality, or does it point to a deeper reality? Is nature a random and chance process, or a project with purpose? Can people be fully understood in terms of the natural sciences, or is there a transcendent dimension to human existence?

Each of the authors in this volume responds in a different way, addressing naturalism, materialism, the nature of consciousness, reductionism, and the quest for meaning.Two paradigms emerge, with those who say that God (or direction) can exist in the universe because we can understand certain things, while others say that God exists because we cannot understand the universe altogether. Their reflections on the accessibility and the mystery of the world show the extraordinary abstract revolution that took place in science during the twentieth century and the way this establishes a bridge between science and religion.

Contributors are Nobel Prize winners Christian de Duve, Charles Townes, Ahmed Zewail, and William D. Phillips; as well as Paul Davies, Bernard d'Espagnat, Thomas Odhiambo, Ramanath Cowsik, Jean Kovalevsky, Thierry Magnin, Bruno Guiderdoni, Trinh Xuan Thuan, Khalil Chamcham, Michael Heller, and Philip Clayton.

Foreword / vii
Philip Clayton

Introduction / 3
Jean Staune

Part I. Science with Philosophy

1. Revisiting the Paths to Meaning / 15
Bernard d’Espagnat

2. Glimpsing the Mind of God / 27
Paul Davies

3. Mysteries of Life: Is There “Something Else”? / 38
Christian de Duve

Part II. Science, Spirituality, and Society

4. Essence and Continuity of Life in the African Society: Its Evolving Nature / 61
Thomas Odhiambo

5. Einstein and Gandhi: The Meaning of Life / 79
Ramanath Cowsik

6. Dialogue of Civilizations: Making History through a New World Vision / 90
Ahmed Zewail

Part III. The Convergence of the Approaches

7. The Convergence of Science and Religion / 109
Charles H. Townes

8. Science and Religion / 120
Jean Kovalevsky

9. Moral Philosophy: A Space for Dialogue between Science and Theology / 137
Thierry Magnin

Part IV. Agreements and Conflicts between the Two

10. Modern Cosmology and the Quest for Meaning: A Dialogue on the Road to Knowledge / 163
Bruno Guiderdoni

11. Science and Buddhism / 174
Trinh Xuan Thuan

Part V. Personal and Scientific Search

12. Ordinary Faith, Ordinary Science / 193
William D. Phillips

13. The Other Outlook / 209
Khalil Chamcham

Part VI. Synthesis

14. Science and Transcendence: Limits of Language and Common Sense / 225
Michael Heller

Contributors / 237

Index / 243