New Book by CPNS Senior Research Fellow
Stuart A. Kauffman
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Stuart A. Kauffman is the founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics and a professor of biological sciences, physics, and astronomy at the University of Calgary. He is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, of which he was a founding member. His books include: The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution and At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity.

     
In this latest work, Kauffman argues for a philosophical conception of natural continuing creativity in the universe--a conception that might inform the conventional theistic definition of God as supernatural innitiator of a singular Creation event from which the universe is understood to unfold deterministically. Likewise, Kauffman's notion of natural continuing creativity challenges conventional scientific assumptions that the biosphere's evolution and human activity can be reduced to

physics and are fully governed by natural laws.

Kauffman argues for a theory of natural emergence--a theory describing how complex systems self-organize into entities that are far more than the sum of their parts. He defines this emergent natural self-organization down to the fundamental language of quantum mechanics, and up to the language of population biology, neurobiology, and economics.

 

Reviews


Choice
“Kauffman, an outstanding thinker who has devoted much reflection to complexity theory, offers some insightful perspectives on the physical world in Reinventing the Sacred…. This is an interesting book that will generate much discussion.”

Houston Chronicle
“Kauffman’s book is a rigorous intellectual quest not only to find the sacred in nature but to remove the taint of atheism from science.”

Scientific American
“[Kauffman’s] provocative argument for a different understanding of God is compelling.”

Science
“[Reinventing the Sacred] sparkles from every angle as its author gallops through the relevant science, philosophy, economics, history, ethics, poetry and – well, we had better use the word because Kauffman does: religion…. Bringing science and religion together globally in the way that Kauffman wishes is not going to be easy – as other ecumenical movements have repeatedly found – but it is necessary.”

Library Journal
“[Kauffman] offers a fresh angle in the ongoing debates concerning creationism, intelligent design, and evolution.”

Publishers Weekly
“Provocative…. Kauffman raises important questions about the self-organizing potential of natural systems that deserve serious consideration.”

Brian Goodwin, Co-author of Signs of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology
“This brilliantly-argued book takes science into novel territory with clarity and conviction, and in Kauffman’s inimitable style it challenges some scientific taboos. With this book a new biology is emerging, and with it a new culture.”

Owen Flanagan, Author of The Really Hard Problem
“Stuart Kauffman is the new Spinoza. Reinventing the Sacred is a pedagogical tour de force as well as an uplifting metaphysics for the 21st century.”

Gordon D. Kaufman, Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Harvard University
“This is a brilliant, new, comprehensive, scientific world-picture, and it deserves a wide reading in the educated public.”

Philip Clayton, Author of Mind and Emergence
Reinventing the Sacred is a tour de force and a brilliant manifesto for a new emergence-based scientific worldview. But science alone will never be enough; humanity must also invent new categories of the sacred that speak to this naturalistic age. Stuart Kauffman courageously challenges fundamentalist pretensions on both sides, seeking to mold a new partnership of science and religious values...an epoch-making book.”

Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economics
“Stuart Kauffman has long studied the nature of complexity in biological systems. His new book shows in a startling way the power of these ideas in our understanding of ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. The sense of agency and of values, seemingly banished by the scientific viewpoint, are restored and enriched by a fuller perception of science deriving from biology as well as physics. Any reader’s views will be dramatically altered.”

Lee Smolin, Author of The Trouble with Physics
“Stuart Kauffman has written a wonderful book, as optimistic as it is provocative. He proposes a new scientific world view that not only incorporates reductionism, but goes beyond it to a vision of a self-constructed and continuously creative universe which can be understood and revered, but not always predicted. Knowledge and wisdom are different aspects of our humanity in Kauffman's universe.”

Shift Magazine
“Well-written and rigorously argued…. For this meaningful contribution to the quest for an era of sustainability, atheists and believers alike should be most grateful.”

 
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