“What [science alone] lacks is the larger existential ‘why,’…”

from “An Open Letter to Atheists” by PSV Lupus

And, I think this is one area in which a greater number of people–religious or not–are coming to a better and more useful understanding in accord with much of what I’ve written above. Science and religion can be understood as “non-overlapping magisteria,” which is to say, they need not be considered to be in conflict with one another, and their best applications might be in entirely different areas of life and our understandings of the universe. Science is an excellent method via which to understand the facts of the universe, what makes it up, and how it functions, and the modern findings of biology, chemistry (which is at the basis of biology), and physics (which is at the basis of chemistry) all provide a very good working model of the “how” of existence as we experience it. What it lacks is a larger existential “why,” which is much more appropriate to human endeavors involving the imagination and the boundless possibilities in creativity, including art, religion, and philosophy. Likewise, religion is an excellent system for giving options to humans in terms of what ultimate values are and where these are located, what narratives are the most appealing explanations for the great unknowns of human experience, and how one relates to others, to oneself, and to the wider cosmos–in essence, any and all things which might be considered concerns regarding the meaning(s) of life, which can never be answered objectively and once-and-for-all. This is the realm not of facts, but of truths, which are always contextual and limited in their application, though profound and powerful for those who perceive them in particular manners appropriate to their positions. As long as religion does not suggest that it is a superior source of facts about existence (e.g. creation myths, etiologies for certain phenomena, etc.), then there is no conflict between science and religion. And, indeed, I suspect you’ll find that most of the conflicts between science and religion that have occurred in the last 1600 years, as well as more recently (and which still rage in some regions of the U.S. and elsewhere!) are situations in which certain individuals have not understood that their religious truths are not scientific facts.

As I’ve noted here and elsewhere, like many within the Modern Jazz set, I take a bit from Existentialism, even Absurdism, but where I’m at odds with many 20th and 21st Century Existentialists is I am not an Atheist. Which is why I’m more likely to cull quotes from Kierkegaard than from Sartre, even though I’m also (very clearly) not a Christian. PSVL, an acquaintence (maybe friend?) of mine from the polytheistic pagan community pretty much does a great job with this letter of not only addressing eir1 own concerns to whatever self-identified Atheists may pass it by, but also manages to overlap greatly with many of my own thoughts, to the extent that it is indeed hard for me to say where eir own thoughts on the subject end and my own begin.


1: Not a typo, please read eir “Note On Pronouns