Bridge Across Consciousness
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Heaven, The Heart's Deepest Longing - Peter Kreeft

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From: Bruce S.
Date: Monday, March 10, 2008, 12:50 PM
Subject: Science and Religion
ID: 260018

Good morning.

Just wanted to pass along a few thoughts on this theme.

In particular -- thank you, Nisa, for your private emails. I was fascinated to see your "" email address, and your reference to Bell Labs. Back in the day, Bell Labs was a kind of glistening ideal in my dreams, and I had fantasies about doing research and development at that level. I suppose that ideal has remained with me, as I have thought about the kind of standards I would hope to maintain in this ongoing research and design.

When these ideas were first taking shape in my thinking, I was reading things like Claude Shannon's "Mathematical Theory of Communication", which I have here with me, and is described on the back cover as "a revolutionary work, astounding in its foresight, astounding in its contemporaneity." Claude Shannon was employed as a research mathematician at Bell Labs.

In your initial introduction, Nisa, you wrote

While I have acquired a scientific background, I have always sensed a spiritual presence, which I have been associating with my belief in righteousness and doing good for the world. Currently, my feeling is that many disciplines such as science, philosophy, psychology, religion will all be one at the highest level of spirit, and we will all be pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and simple everything is. It is hard work to get there for us as humans. But, we are evolving ...

When I saw those words from you, I was instantly attracted, and felt that your expression was very succinct and to the point. It was only afterward that I realized you also had an advanced technical background.

Surprised at how simple everything is...

I remember reading in the theory of engineering design -- about "making things seem simple". Get that interface really integrated -- the user does not want to know about all that implicitly nested complexity...

And maybe we are headed in a similar direction -- towards a kind of "interface" that pulls these traditionally diverse elements together. Personally, I think it is happening -- and will, with our help, continue to happen.

But just look at what is implicit in those few simple words you wrote...

many disciplines such as science, philosophy, psychology, religion will all be one at the highest level of spirit

Inherent in this thought -- is not "merely" an integration of science -- a huge undertaking by itself -- but also an integration of this science with "religion" -- and indeed -- a "simple" integration...

So, all of this embraces a huge dream and vision, something from the deepest ideals of the greatest philosophers and visionaries and dreamers...

Leibniz, for example -- who dreamed of this kind of unity, and created mathematical ideas that could support it.


Just to make a couple of small distinctions --

Something I have learned, as I have continued to explore this "relationship of science and religion" -- is that the wording you used -- referring to "spirit" -- probably is a key to making all of this feasible.

Depending on what we mean by "religion" -- the idea that "religion and science" could be unified could be misleading. For many people, this discussion implies that religious ideas on "evolution", for example, might be made scientific -- or on any other religious sort of topic -- cosmology, for example.

Seen this way, science and religion are understood as making competing claims, that are probably inconsistent.

But there is another way to understand this relationship, that I think is more fruitful.

The essential idea is: the entire point of religion -- is spirit.

When religion makes claims about subjects like evolution and cosmology, it is on shaky ground. The strength of religion is that its ideas, at its best, point towards the principles and unfolding of "deep spirit". This is the kind of work we are doing through Interspirit -- establishing the common ground of spirit among the diverse traditions. The key to bringing science together with religion involves seeing religion in terms of its core universal message of spirit. When religion is understood in these terms, we can begin to unfold a clear simple epistemology that links all of these elements together.

Regarding the development of a universal perspective, we are once again starting to work on World Scripture, that we originally put on the Internet in the mid-1990s.

That book contains 4000 scriptural passages taken from 250+ sources, and is arranged in terms of 165 "themes that religions have in common". It's a powerful thesis, beautifully presented. We are now beginning the work of inserting this information into our online database system, so as to correlate it with our 11,000 quotations taken from 700 reference texts. Give this perspective on "the universal laws of spirit", we are beginning to have a pretty strong compendium of the universal approach.

This entire process is somewhat of a "convergence across a bridge". This work combines our efforts to model these relationships in an abstract conceptual theory -- that is portable to computer logic and network design -- while at the same time, supporting a variety of groups and activist agencies that are feeling these things, and doing what they can to nurture this convergence.

So -- at one end of the bridge, we have deep intuition, and the instincts of millions of people, who are being drawn towards these universal forces -- and at the other, we have the Bell-Labs-like mathematical models and interpretations that can make sense of this process as a network design.

All of this does get rather wild and woolly, it is true. Shannon's work was described as "revolutionary" -- and certainly, this kind of work is also rather awesomely revolutionary. Is it really happening? Is this stuff just a wild fantasy -- or can clear and stable methodology, holding all these pieces in accurate relationship, really nurture the emergence of this stunning new integration?

I am not making predictions -- but I can feel it. The potential is out there. The motivational drive is out there.


Just to point to a couple of links, this is the kind of mathematics that I would like to see unfold within a Bell Labs-like research environment:

Synthetic Dimensionality:

That's a mathematical review of conceptual structure, supposedly showing that all conceptual structure can be assembled from a single "primitive" -- namely "distinction" -- or "cut" -- in a linearly recursive way.

If that claim is valid -- it might lead to an astonishing simplification of the conceptual structure of every science or body of ideas -- and/or show how these various bodies of concepts can be linked to one another within the context of a single integral interpretation.

And now, working through this LightPage system, there is a linked group aimed at a strictly technical and professional audience:

Forum on Conceptual Structure:

The way this feels to me is -- we are going to do this at philosophical levels, showing how all of this is consistent with deep intuition and the history of philosophy and spirit. And we are going to show how this is possible at the most demanding levels of technology, so that these intuitive ideas become directly portable into a computer environment.

And then -- we are going to discover that all of this runs as a kind of integral network design, capable of tying together everything we know -- through the Internet. Maybe this "bridge" concept will fit into a google-like framework, that will interpret things in terms of relationships as well as simply the words that are found in any indexed source. It's hard to see this, exactly -- but this epistemology of integration might have huge implications for the organization of knowledge -- and the way it is accessed. And for those who are paying attention and getting in-synch -- the implications for spirit are also profound.

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