God and the Limit of Science
Sun Myung Moon
November 22-25, 1979
The Eighth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences
The Responsibility of the Academic Community in the Search for Absolute Values
Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, California
Distinguished Chairman, eminent scholars, ladies and gentlemen…
Thank you all very much for having decided to attend this Eighth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences. Each year this meeting has become increasingly important because of your participation. This has been gratifying to me as the Founder of the Conference.
In connection with this year’s theme, “The Responsibility of the Academic Community in the Search for Absolute Values,” I would like to express a few opinions on the topic, “God and the Limit of Science.”
As science developed in recent years mankind has had great expectations, and has believed that relief from both spiritual and physical difficulties would come through the advancement of scientific technology.
Scientists who have had a sense that theirs is a crucial mission as contributors to mankind have continued on the one hand to pursue ultimate scientific truth and on the other to apply scientific technology in almost every field of human endeavor. The resulting benefits have been fantastic economic growth, material affluence, and physical well-being such as mankind had never before known.
However, for all its great merits, today’s technology has equally great demerits, generating such problems as pollution, resource depletion, depersonalization, and accumulation of formidable weapons of thermonuclear destruction.
Thus the very science that originated with the intent to realize happiness for mankind has with its successes brought fears and instability as wen. What is the reason? The reason is that science, in adhering to its position of scientific neutrality, has excluded considerations of purpose and value.
I wish to proclaim that human beings have value from their very origin. They are creations of God. And they are created to lead life with a definite value perspective in accordance with the purpose of creation. In spite of his being originally a creature of vast value, man has disregarded this value perspective and, believing in the omnipotence of science, taken it as a panacea. Consequently, technology has become a source of increasing damage.
Science, in man’s life, can only be a means; it cannot be an end. The purpose of human life is to realize God’s purpose of creation. Man is a unified being of both physical and spiritual entities. Hence, on the foundation of physical life, he is to lead a life of value-a life of love, truth, goodness and beauty. It is for the sake of convenience to physical life that scientific technology is needed to allow physical life to become a proper basis for spiritual life. Therefore the science that disregards or fails to emphasize the life of value actually brings about the destruction of value perspective in man, leading towards today’s reality of fear and insecurity. The deliverance of mankind from this unfortunate reality can be achieved only by searching for and discovering the true value perspective. Science, in turn, must accord to this value perspective, which, needless to say, must be based on absolute value.
Where could this absolute value be found? I conceive that it could only be found in God’s love, and that, in fact, truth, goodness and beauty based on God’s love is indeed this absolute value itself.
Accordingly it stands to reason that mankind’s liberation from the harms caused by the misuse of scientific technology can come only when science itself recognizes God, and guides and applies its technology in the same directions as God’s love.
Next, I would like to suggest that there is a limit to science in its search for truth in the field of nature. In this twentieth century, science has finally found itself pushed into the realm of philosophy in its own search for truth. It has had to take upon itself the question of the origin of the universe, just as did ancient philosophies, both eastern and western. That is, science itself, especially physics and biology, has been confronted with various long-disputed and unresolved questions of ontology. Indeed certain experiments in quantum physics and molecular biology have been performed for the purpose of exploring these ontological questions.
Thus in a scientific and in an experimental way physics has dealt with the study of ontology with the question, “What is the true nature of material?” The first answer was “atom.” A second was “elementary particles.” Finally quantum mechanics delivered an answer in which the elementary particles of material are related to energy itself.
In the same way, biology approached a similar ontological problem, “What is the true nature of life?”, eventually suggesting the answer, “The secret of life lies in the properties of DNA!”
Thus in its search of the truth that constitutes the universe, natural science has uncovered many facts and accumulated an astonishing body of knowledge. But these are hardly ultimate solutions to man’s questions. Even though quantum physics affirms that the true ground of material is energy, we do not know from where energy comes, what the previous stage or state of energy is, or why and how energy transfers from its previous state to the existing state. Why did there come into being a variety of molecules? Why does each molecule have its characteristic pattern of positive and negative charge? And so on. There are many questions yet to be clarified.
Similarly in molecular biology, which maintains that the true nature of life is bound up in DNA coding, significant questions remain. How did the four units of the DNA code come to bear information, how did DNA come to possess the ability to replicate itself, and so on.
What is the implication of this, that in its pursuit of truth, even though science has developed to a surprising degree, it still leaves many of its own problems untouched? It can only mean that these remaining scientific questions are not within the direct realm of current natural science.
Up to now, although science in its quest for truth has investigated immediate causes of particular phenomena, it has not taken up the search for motives or reasons for existence as a whole. Thus the final challenge that science confronts is this question of the ultimate reason for existence. The unexplored problem in the question, “What is the true nature of material?” is that of the reason for its existence, and again, the untouched problem in the question, “What is the true nature of life?” is the very reason for life itself.
I propose that, in clarifying reasons, one must first admit purpose, and before admitting purpose one must first recognize the will that made the purpose, namely, the cosmic and universal will that transcends all things. When you call this cosmic will. “God”, then the initial step in clarifying unsolved questions is first to apprehend God’s purpose of creation, and second to perceive that along with the physical or chemical factors in all material and life phenomena there exists a causal motive directing each thing towards a certain purpose.
In short, the very science which has developed for the happiness of mankind is today a cause of difficulty or even harm. And the only way to be freed from these harms is to bring science under the true value perspective which centers in God’s love.
As more and more scientists find themselves pushed to the limit of science, they will find that the key to transcending this limit is to regard that, behind all material and life phenomena, there is a purposeful motive working in accordance with God’s purpose of creation.
It is my considered and confident belief that these points I have mentioned are the most important and pressing matters facing today’s science. I feel that it would be most fortunate if they could serve as a reference for the topics to be discussed by all the distinguished scholars who are taking up the theme of this year’s Conference.
In conclusion, I wish that all of you will be successful in your research and pursuit of truth in relation to the Absolute Truth. I am sure that the fruits of your efforts that are expressed in the presentations at this conference will contribute in a significant way towards world peace.
Thank you all very much.