Well, that may be an over-statement. But, a column in the Sunday edition of the New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof may also be a good sign of how the times are changing, Learning to Respect Religion. Kristof notes that atheists and scientists seem to be increasingly recognizing the good that religion has done in the evolution of humanity across the centuries.
A little detour is in order to explain why I view Kristof’s column so positively.
Philosopher Ken Wilber treats the differentiation of the fields of art, morals (religion), and science as the foundation that ushered in the age of enlightenment in his thought-provoking book A Brief History of Everything. He reminds us that until a few hundred years ago religion made advances in science and art a dangerous proposition. But, he brings the conversation up to the present and suggests a further positive step in our evolution. That is, a trend toward more integration of art, morals, and science. That is not to say regression back to the days where one got burned at the stake for looking through a telescope and reporting what he saw. Instead, Wilbur is talking about understanding and integrating the spirit into art and science, integrating advances in rational thought into art and study of the spirit, and integrating aesthetics in religion and science.
Another good read along these lines is Scott M. Tyson’s The Unobservable Universe. Tyson is a scientist that began to tread on the province of the spirit, through pushing the envelope of science. He contends his ventures resulted in him being treated much as scientists of the Middle Ages might be treated by the Catholic Church. Except it is the scientific community treating a trailblazer like that in the present.
Incidentally, I highly recommend A Brief History. It was critical in unchaining me mentally and spiritually from an adult life spent in a religion that was Medieval in its super individuation from advances in art and science and morality and the evolution of civilization as a whole.
Whether the New York Times thinks God is alive or dead, that there is a trend toward integrating art, religion and science in my view is a very heartening sign.
By the by, notwithstanding Elton John’s lyrics in his wonderful song Levon, the New York Times never did declare that God was dead. Refs: