Author Jacob Needleman’s A Sense of the Cosmos: Scientific Knowledge and Spiritual Truth combines his years of impressive research and teaching in the arenas of religion, philosophy and medical research into a powerful and at times profound discussion of science and religion and the quest for human knowledge, and understanding at the core of both.
This revised edition offers Needleman’s philosophical approach to the necessity of understanding the self in order to truly understand the cosmos, and his scientific background and knowledge of world religions enables him to make stunning comparisons between major religious traditions and scientific pursuits, while also pointing out their distinctions. Needleman argues that basic scientific knowledge does one little good without being able to apply it personally, or understand it with a deeper wisdom that comes from spirit. And he makes that same argument for pure religion, that without scientific understanding of our place in the cosmos, religion means little or nothing.
Using examples from history, the author points out how scientific advances have often left humanity feeling empty, despite profound progress in medicine and technology. He likens this emptiness to a lack of understanding of the concept of man as microcosm to the macrocosm of the Universe as a whole, living organism, and sets the stage for a meeting of intellect with intuition, science with magic, progress with spirituality.
But what makes this book unique is that Needleman focuses more on the differences and separations between science and religion and, rather than trying to point out all they have in common and find a sustained harmony between both, he focuses on those differences as a way of becoming aware that nature is really about reciprocal relationships between “separate but interdependent entities.” We are all one, but perhaps not quite in the way we’ve been told by the religions we so blindly follow.
Much of this book may go over the heads of someone not familiar with metaphysics and modern physics, and some of the philosophies Needleman expounds may take two readings to digest, but this book will no doubt make people think, and wonder, and imagine what could be possible for humanity if we could for once find our true place in the cosmos. As Needleman states in his introduction, we are in a state of being “between dreams,” and the goal is to become awake and aware enough to begin to see modern science as an aspect of our own inner selves. Then we will have achieved the ultimate union with the Divine.