What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Can faith and science be reconciled?

Karen Armstrong:  There's no question of reconciling them.  They have different jobs to do.  And before the modern period, people in all cultures understood this.  People knew there were two ways of coming at truth.  One was science, or what the Greeks called logos: reason, logic.  And that was essential that the discourse of science or logic related directed to the external world.  The other was mythos, what the Greeks called myth, which didn't mean a fantasy story, but it was a narrative associated with ritual and ethical practice but it helped us to address problems for which there were no easy answers, like mortality, cruelty, the sorrow that overtakes us all that's part of the human condition.  And these two were not in opposition, we needed both. 

If your child dies, or you witness a terrible natural disaster, yes, you certainly want a scientific explanation as to what's happened.  But science can't help you to find meaning, help you deal with that turbulence of your grief, rage, and dismay.  A science can diagnose a cancer and can even find a cure for it, but it can't, and a scientist will be the first to say, it can't help you to deal with the stress and disappointment and terror that comes with a diagnosis, and nor can it help you to die well, like Socrates, kindly, not railing against faith, but in possession of your own death.  For these imponderable questions people have turned to mythos. 

But the important thing about myth is that it's not just something that you believe, a myth is essentially a program for action.  And unless you translate a mythical story, or a doctrine out of the church, into practical action, it just remains incomprehensible.  Rather like the rules of a board game which seem very sort of dull and complicated and incomprehensible until you pick up the dice and start to play, when everything falls into place. 

And so, the early doctrines of the church, even doctrines like Trinity and Incarnation, were originally also calls for action, calls for selflessness, calls for compassion, and unless you live that out compassionately, selflessly, you didn't understand what the doctrine was saying.

Recorded on November 16, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen

 

Can Science and Faith Just ...

Newsletter: Share: