Filed in Science

The Transcendent Imperative

At a time when our spiritual traditions struggle to remain relevant in a culture dominated by scientific materialism, Andrew Cooper considers the pros and cons of a new religious model based on the psychology of “flow.”

Andrew Cooper

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Another problem has to do with the nature of scientific knowledge itself. A Haitian adage says, “When the anthropologists arrive, the gods depart.” Science is our world’s most powerful form of knowledge, but despite its pretensions to the contrary, it is not impartial, nor is it free from the values of the culture from which it emerged. Science is an epistemic stance, one that makes possible certain types of reflection and knowledge even as it ignores others. As a mode of understanding the world, science places primary value on explanatory knowledge. This is quite inimical to a mythic stance, which holds that the world is disclosed most meaningfully in its mystery. Mythic consciousness demands that certain things—sacred things—be approached not with the distance of disinterested scrutiny but in a spirit of faith. Otherwise, the gods depart.

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