Saturday, May 5, 2012

A world divided

I was forbidden to accept science and still believe in the lyrical poetry, the song that pushes the dance of cosmology or the story of descent with modification -- first by the science teacher and then by the church....

I never chose between the two and, on some level, I've never felt at home in either world.

Science is not about the "real" world but about the natural world--and there lies a world of difference. Your science teacher was mistaken when he divided the world.

The church, too, is mistaken, when it seeks to cleave what we want to be true from what we know to be true. The prophets lyrically warned us, but we do it anyway. (Which is, I guess, the whole point of prophets.)

If science is seen as a process--and it is, a particular process of developing stories to help us grasp the natural world--then "scientific belief" is nonsensical.

Art and science are both better defined by process than by ends--no one asks me if I "believe in" Picasso's Guernica. It's a silly question.


Neither science nor art require "belief" and neither invalidate any particular belief systems that tolerate truth. Both art and science are dangerous because both privilege truth.

This is why I believe in taboo. There are some things humans best leave alone, in science and art.

The Picasso piece is obvious; the other drawing is by Charles Darwin--turns out we're all related.


rborrelli said...

um, can I quote you in my thesis proposal.

This Brazen Teacher said...

rborrelli= brazen

doyle said...

Dear Brazen,

Of course...and I knew who you were. =)

Jenny said...

Have you ever seen Guernica on display in Madrid? Being 'better defined by process than by ends' describes it beautifully. Many of Picasso's sketches are displayed leading up to Guernica and one feels a part of his process as you proceed. It is astounding.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

I saw it in New York, when we were, um, "holding" it.

I was much younger, and not a fan of art. Then I saw Guernica. Literally breathtaking.

Jenny said...

The Picasso museum in Barcelona and then Guernica in Madrid completely changed my husband's mind about Picasso. Prior to that he couldn't understand why anyone would be impressed with his art. (He's still skeptical of a lot of modern art but we're working on it.)

The connections between art and science always amaze me. So few seem willing to explore them. Feynman was my introduction to the idea - as well as lot of other ideas pertaining to science and the world.