What I believe as I near the end of my long life
1) “Everything can be said in words except the living truth”. (Ionescu)
2) “To him who has only a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail”. (Abraham Kaplan)
3) Science is not the only, not even the richest or most important source of knowledge.
4) The foundation of science is faith, namely the faith that natural law governs the whole of space and all time, past, present and forever. Therefore science can yield only probable truths, not certainty.
5) Not all aspects of reality are computable.
6) Science and technology are not value free. They inherit their values from the societies in which they are embedded. In a highly militarized society the values of their practitioners become, consciously or not, the values of their principal sponsors, the military. In societies whose values are derived from greed and the pursuit of wealth and power, science and technology serve those same values.
7) A reasonable and healthy world society could, beginning today make of the earth, on the basis of the present state of human knowledge, a paradise for the whole of mankind.
8) Complete knowledge of a living organism’s physical, genetic and neurological structures and their interconnections would still be insufficient for fully understanding that organism. If, for example, one had all that knowledge of an ant but did not know that ants live in a society thousands of their fellows, one would not understand the ant. The same applies to understanding the human being.
9) “No man is an island” (Donne) One’s skin is not one’s boundary. The human being is inseparable from his fellow beings, indeed from all humankind and its history. Not even death separates one from the universe. The individual human being cannot be fully grasped by science alone.
10) “Knowledge is better than ignorance”. (Herbert Simon) Yes – but not at any price or in any context.
11) Metaphors and analogies join disparate contexts and thus elicit new insights. Almost all our knowledge, including scientific, is metaphorical, neither certain nor absolute.
12) There is no clearly definable boundary between good and evil or between day and night. We can, however, distinguish between noon and midnight. An individual can know whether his actions or plans fall more in a frame of daylight or of nighttime and decide to behave accordingly. Certainly war, poverty and hunger of a third of the world’s population, the enormously unjust distribution of the earth’s natural and economic resources, all of these are midnight. Love is noon.
13) The belief that evil can best be fought and defeated from inside the beast is fatally in error and destructive of the believer.
14) God exists for God is love. Prayer is an appeal to the love one harbors, perhaps an appeal in search of consolation, or to gain inner peace, or to find a way to support a fellow human being, sometimes a form of meditation. Whatever. Love is not the spiritual property of organized religion.
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