Reasonable as such a scenario would have seemed to us, it would have been wrong. Science failed us. And there is now an exploding interest not in organized religion but in a generic spirituality with a universal appeal.
Most amazing is the fact that the top physical scientists (not the social scientists) have led this renaissance of interest in spirituality. In a remarkable book, Ken Wilber brought together what the most renowned scientists of this century have had to say about the existence of a nonphysical, or spiritual, dimension of reality. He concludes:
“There is no longer any major physical-theoretical objection to spiritual realities…. This view—which is supported by virtually every theorist in this volume [Einstein, Sherrington, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Planck, Eddington, et al.]—is probably the strongest and most revolutionary conclusion vis-à-vis religion that has ever been ‘officially’ advanced by theoretical science itself.
“It is a monumental and epochal turning point in science’s stance toward religion…[and] in all likelihood marks final closure on that most nagging aspect of the age-old debate between the physical sciences and religion….”
Instead of building a solid basis for peace, science has brought us to the brink of destruction, with a nuclear sword of Damocles hanging by a hair over our heads and ecological collapse threatening vast areas of our planet. Moreover, scientific materialism has utterly failed to answer the ultimate questions we face and to quench our insatiable thirst for a satisfying purpose and meaning to life. As Nobel laureate Erwin Schroedinger, who played a vital role in developing today’s physics, reminds us:
“The scientific picture of the real world around us is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information…but it is ghastly silent about all…that really matters to us…. It knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity…. Whence came I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question…. Science has no answer to it.”
To be sure, science gave us may fascinating insights, the satisfaction of achievement, and a plethora of new toys, but, as Schroedinger says, it couldn’t provide even the theoretical answers, much less the substance, of that which “really matters to us.” There is a longing in the human heart that no amount of scientific achievement or technological gadgetry, prosperity or pleasure, fame or fortune can satisfy.