Is Science Inevitably Opposed to Religion? The Case of A. S. Eddington

Those who generalise about history without actually knowing much about it often say that science and religion were enemies from the start. This is nonsense. A scientific genius like Newton e.g. was a man of deep faith. So too was the great astrophysicist A. S. Eddington (1882-1944). As a “modernist” Quaker he believed that religion had nothing to fear from modern science (including evolution). His whole theory was that both believers and scientists were “seekers” (a Quaker term) after the truth, wherever it be found. People had a deep need, a quest, for spiritual enlightenment, just as scientists explored the deeper meaning of nature and the universe. I will be saying more about ASE in future blogs.

What Is A Practical Mystic?

The great Quaker thinker Rufus Jones favoured activist and engaged mystics, not the hermit types. He said of “practical mystics”: “They are very busy persons, overloaded with their own life work, their vocation, but that in no way prevents them from being transmitters of great moral and spiritual forces; quite the contrary they are all the better transmitters because they are steadied and stabilized with a weighty occupation”

[The New Quest, 1928]


On “Authenticity”

“Those who have moved on ask where’s the virtue in believing what you’ve always believed if what you’ve always believed is wrong”.

Howard Jacobson, Independent (commenting on people’s admiration for Jeremy Corbyn’s “authenticity”].

Longevity – Is It For You?

Howard Jacobson compares young genius poets who die young (think Keats) versus old bores (don’t mention names, but he does, eg Wordsworth):

“We are shepherded into blooming longevity, and before we are able to ask ourselves if we wouldn’t rather burn with Walter Pater’s ‘hard, gem-like flame’ and then go out early, we find ourselves 110, unable to remember our name”

[Independent 23 September 2017]