Music, laughter, grief and imagination

More than just an arrangement of cells: orchids at the National Botanic Garden, Washington DC, April 2014

More than cells: orchids at the National Botanic Garden, Washington DC, April 2014

“It wouldn’t surprise me to know that there are science professors who mock all other types of knowledge as though they’re simply the fluffy, pretty, inconsequential bits around the edge, while (they say) the physical sciences are the solid, hard, no-nonsense things in the middle.  Of course, nobody really lives like that for a single day.  Music, laughter, grief, and imagination keep breaking in despite the best efforts of the left brain, just as the right-brain dreamers still have to do the laundry and pay their bills and catch the train to get to work on time.”N. T. Wright

A botanist could give us a flawless scientific description of these orchids, and maybe even put the more esoteric details in terms we could understand. But could she convey their beauty
more effectively than a poet or musician or artist could?  Somehow I doubt it.

What we think of as objective knowledge is important, even essential.  Medicine, engineering, agriculture and other areas of study would collapse without respect for proven laws and peer-reviewed observations.

But our collective progress as humans will ultimately be impeded without appropriate humility. Science is an evolving discipline, and blind devotion to its accepted orthodoxy is no more desirable now than it was in the days of Galileo or Pasteur, among others who challenged the contemporary understanding of “facts” and were ultimately proven right.

Meanwhile, think twice when you hear people saying that math and science are more important subjects for our children to learn than art, history, theology, music or literature.  One need only look at a beautiful flower to realize that there is a mystery to our existence that goes beyond what can be reduced to facts, experiments and numbers.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

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