Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, a gifted scientist, offered words of wisdom this week as the C.S. Lewis Legacy Lecturer at Westminster College:
(Creation stories) both scientific and religious, encourage a reflective and learning attitude in their use, operating over years and generations. Science “advances” by making hypotheses, gathering data to test the hypothesis, and then adjusts the hypothesis in an iterative process until a fairly robust theory emerges. Religious stories are born of reflection on human life and relationship and asking questions of meaning. They develop theologically through praxis and reflection – doing and reflecting on the outcome of the deeds, and then adjusting the practice toward a more fruitful, life-giving, or virtuous result. In both systems, questions and doubt are potential sources of growth and learning.
Paradigms shift when a theory or robust story no longer fits experience. It is a profoundly disorienting experience for the communities involved, but it is a necessary kind of death that permits another more fruitful and heuristically useful story to emerge. We can see it both in the kind of shift from Newtonian mechanics to relativity theory, and in the expansion of the first covenant biblical narrative to the second, Christian story.
We touched briefly on beauty and awe. What happens when we consider the transcendent qualities of being in addressing these questions of greater meaning?
Read her entire lecture here, or watch the video, below.