Noted scientist and best-selling novelist Alan Lightman, a Memphis native, asks what are the boundaries between science and religion, the two greatest forces that have shaped human civilization. What are the different kinds of knowledge in science and in religion? And how do we come by those different kinds of knowledge? Members of the Faith in Memphis panel respond.
We cannot talk about “faith knowledge” the way we talk about “science knowledge,” because faith is not separated from “all” knowledge. What we claim as scientific knowledge cannot be isolated from “faith”; our “faith perspective” is shaped to a marked degree by the whole of our knowledge.
There is, however, what we might call “heart knowledge” . . .that which we know in our “hearts” that may transcend other kinds of knowing. We know “in our hearts” (and it can be verified experientially) that meaning in life comes through serving, giving ourselves in love for others, and serving causes greater than ourselves. We know (experientially) that a “higher power” sustains us in our recovering from addiction. We know in “our hearts” that fidelity in love and friendship adds a dimension of meaning to our daily living is not found otherwise. Perhaps, more than any other knowing, we know that when we are “in harmony” with “spiritual reality”…that which is beyond the material bounds of mind and matter, we find our greatest joy. A primary expression of this is the “heart knowledge” of sin (actions and relationships that separate us from God, others and our core identity) and that we are forgiven and accepted by God.
If there is “heart knowledge” then there is “heart work”. . .action, study and reflection, worship and relationship. . .that provide, cultivate, and confirm the knowledge that makes us “fully human” as divine/human beings.