Thursday, August 03, 2006

Science, Wonder and Creativity

Today, Chaotic Utopia, Creek Running North and The Scientific Activist are all discussing various aspects of the connections between science, art, metaphor and poetry. I wish I had time to post something substantive on this, but I'll have to leave you with a poem and two quotes.

Molecule Moment
by Jane Shevtsov

Earth’s endless life-stuff cycles
-- Sun-energy flows --
make, as an eddy, me

I will someday be over
but flowing cycling
will go on
creating more uniquenesses

I eat, I drink, I breathe
and I excrete,
Life flows through me

i am a part of an immense intelligence
a Life spinning through space

My future, past, and present all connect
to all the Earth
to the whole Universe,
all of the knowledge of which
is required
to truly comprehend
the single cell
of an amoeba
living in my mouth

The Universe is glorious
and all of human artwork,
is inadequate
to capture it.

I know my joy,
my thoughts,
my words.
The name does not matter
Only the acts.
I act
to celebrate,
and prolong Life

I'm a moment for all my molecules

""Spirit" comes from the Latin word "to breathe." What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word "spiritual" that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spiritually. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both."
--Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars -- mere gobs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere." I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination -- stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern -- of which I am a part -- perhaps my stuff was belched from some forgotten star, as one is belching there. Or see them with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some common starting point when they were perhaps all together. What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the *why?* It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined! Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"
--Richard P. Feynman

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