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Keywords:

  • complexity;
  • direct spiritual awareness;
  • evolution;
  • Stuart Kauffman;
  • naturalism;
  • panentheism;
  • perennial philosophy;
  • sacred;
  • spirituality

Abstract

In his recent book Reinventing the Sacred, renowned biologist and systems theorist Stuart Kauffman offers an avenue for the revival of the sacred and for reconciling sacredness with a robust scientific outlook. According to Kauffman, God is a human cultural invention, and he urges us to reinvent the sacred as the ceaseless creativity in nature. I argue that Kauffman's proposal suffers from a major shortcoming, namely, being at odds with the nature, and content, of authentic experiences of the sacred, experiences which point invariably in the direction of a reality which transcends human imagination and capacity for cultural innovation. Correspondingly, I point in the direction of an alternative approach to the revival of the sacred rooted in what I call the path of direct spiritual awareness. I argue that, while being in better accord with the phenomenology of religious experience, this realist alternative to Kauffman's constructivism also avoids the unpleasant symptoms which often accompany traditional theism, namely, dogmatism, irrationalism, and incompatibility with a scientifically minded metaphysics.