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The Constant Fire: Beyond the science vs. religion debate by Adam Frank, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2009, 306 ff.

Truth in science and religion
By Howard A. Jones

Far from disproving the case for God, science can in fact lead to spirituality as the early natural philosophers intended because it reveals the harmony and grandeur of Nature. The science and religion `conflict' is basically a dispute over the veracity of the human faculties involved: science uses senses and reason while religion uses emotion and intuition.

Both science and religion should be about the search for truth, which the Shorter Oxford Dictionary gives as `conforming with reality' or the world as it really is, by common assent. It is that last phrase which is the root of much of the conflict between science and religion and even between religions, because to find principles to which even most, let alone all, would agree has proved so far impossible to achieve. Truth in science means an understanding of the ultimate structure and function of the natural world. Truth in religion means exploring the nature of a metaphysical ultimate reality that, in the West, is identified with deity. The belief is that such a concept provides a moral base for the wellbeing of humankind as individuals and as a society.

Frank recognizes that the scriptural basis of religion is largely myth, but is not to be disparaged because of that. He criticizes the idea of myth as a `false story': he considers myths important in their `ability to transmit essential truths within and across human cultures with poetic economy.' There are features of mythical stories that recur through space and time, fragments that Jung called `archetypes' and which Frank denotes as `mythemes'. These are the eternal truths of myth that serve as `the source or aspiration of both science and spiritual longing', which the author describes as The Constant Fire.

But the author is highly critical of attempts at comparison between eastern mystical world-views and theoretical quantum physics. The heart of the complementarity between science and religion is to be found in the sacred quality that both disciplines find in the grandeur of the natural world - a numinous quality with which the author clearly identifies.

Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK
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