Skip to main content

Attributes of Compassion

Godliness in the Known and the Unknowable: Alan Lightman on Science and Spirituality

“If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from,” Carl Sagan wrote in his timeless meditation on science and religion“we will have failed.” It’s a sentiment that dismisses in one fell Saganesque swoop both the blind dogmatism of religion and the vain certitude of science — a sentiment articulated by some of history’s greatest minds, from Einstein to Ada Lovelace to Isaac Asimov, all the way back Galileo, and one that Sagan echoed a decade later, three months before his death, writing:“The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” Yet centuries after Galileo and decades after Sagan, humanity remains profoundly uneasy about reconciling these conflicting frameworks for understanding the universe and our place in it.


←  Go back                                                  Next page