An Under-Appreciated Point

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Dear Editor: As an engineer who went to seminary, I often find myself defending both Science and Faith. Like Jim Humphrey (“Here Sleep Dragons,” March/April 2017), I’m a “pro-science guy” who agrees that science often gets distorted by materialism. And like Brylie Oxley (“Time Crystals,” same issue), I am fascinated by discoveries, like time crystals, that open our minds to the awesome structure of reality.

However, what strikes me as most significant, and under-appreciated among Friends, is the deep resonance of the methods – the practice – of Science and Quakerism. Both depend on the existence of a testable reality (physical and spiritual) that we can investigate. They rely on our ability to know, as George Fox said, “experimentally.” Both also claim continuing revelation. New observations lead to new insights that modify our earlier understanding. We can never know absolute truth once and for all, but we can gain confidence in our model of truth as we live with it and keep testing it over generations . . . and within community. That last point is important. Both science and Quakerism are communal activities. New insights are tested and refined within the community of practice.

For Quakers, as the Quaker astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell has said, science and faith are good bedfellows. And this we can know experimentally . . .

– Rob Pierson, Albuquerque Friends Meeting (IMYM)