Across his life the bio-chemist Joseph Needham moved from orthodox Christianity to a more universalist spiritual stance, much influenced by the tranquillity of Confucianism. At the same time he retained faith in what he called “creatureliness, the unescapable inclusion of humanity in space-time, subject to pain, sorrow, sadness and death” [Time, The Refreshing River, 1943, p.65].
Monthly Archives: August 2016
Needham on “The Great Amphibium” and the “Numinous”
In his book of 1931, The Great Amphibium, the scientist and historian of Chinese science Joseph Needham complained that science and materialism neglected issues such as God, Freedom and Immortality: “It is worthwhile to persist in trying to communicate the incommunicable and to speak the unspeakable”. He described religion as “numinous experience”: “Not how the world is, but that it exists at all in the form which we know, is the mystical. Scientific thought stands completely helpless before that profound element of arbitrariness which characterises the world… the world itself is at bottom alogical, arbitrary, inscrutable, affording no possible answer to the question why it should be as it is and not otherwise”. Does this seem like Zen to you?
Creator of Narnia on Mystical Experiences and God
C.S.Lewis and Religion Click here
C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderfully readable autobiography called Surprised by Joy, in which he describes mystical experiences he had had, and describes his journey from atheism to belief.
Great Church Historian on our Age of Secular Despair
Alec Vidler. Click Here.
That wonderful man Alec Vidler was an influential thinker in Anglican circles in the 20th century. Read Paul’s essay about his life and ideas about Christianity and rising secularism.
Pundit to Pilgrim: Malcolm Muggeridge
Malcolm Muggeridge. Click here. Paul discusses Malcolm Muggeridge’s life and critique of capitalism, communism and religion.
Are Socialism and Religion Compatible?
Tawney. Click here. One of England’s greatest Labour theorists R. H. Tawney argues that Christian ethics should underlie Socialist thinking.
Toynbee’s Great Study of History
Toynbee and Religion: Read Paul’s essay on Arnold Toynbee’s views on Religion and History. He wrote a famous bestseller “The Study of History”, which compared the world’s great civilisations.
The Illimitable Dazzle of the Universe: Priestley
J.B. Priestley was not religious, but he yearned for a deeper and richer reality in life.
“I happen to believe there are levels of being in this universe far higher than ours, which at its best is probably near the bottom of all lists. I can imagine, if only vaguely, that highly conscious love may exist on such levels of being in blazing magnificence. But only after aeons of conscious effort…[We might do better to] imagine ourselves among indifferent stars and terrible dark spaces, so many helpless little creatures – but still capable, if we choose and try hard, of creating unwavering, unshakeable conscious love. To create it and sustain it, against heavy odds, may be what this universe is all about, may fit some secret pattern behind the illimitable dazzle of its particles”
[“Over the Long High Wall”, 1972,p.32].
A New World Order? One Pioneer
Lionel Curtis Lionel Curtis was an imperial statesman and advocate of a peaceful world order well before the UN and the EU. He used Christian ideals to support this cause. Click on link.