Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Metaphor of Science and Religion

I would like to relay an interesting metaphor Francisco J. Ayala uses in his book: Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion.

On April 28, 1937 Nazi airplanes under Franco's command bombed Guernica leaving 1,654 of it's 7,000 inhabitants dead. In response, the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso painted his famous Guernica, a huge painting (25'8" X 11'6").

"Suppose I list the coordinates of all images represented in the painting, their size, the pigments used, and the quality of the canvas. This information would be interesting, but it would hardly be satisfying if I completely omitted aesthetic considerations and failed to reflect the painting's meaning and purpose, the dramatic message of man's inhumanity to man conveyed by the outstretched figure of the mother pulling her killed baby, the bellowing human faces, the wounded horse, and the satanic image of the bull. The point is that the physical description of the painting does not tell us anything (by itself it cannot tell us anything) about the aesthetic value or historical significance of Guernica; nor, on the other hand, do aesthetics or intended meaning determine the physical features of the painting."

"scientific knowledge, like the description of the size, materials, and geometry of Guernica, is satisfying and useful, but once science has had its say, there remains much about reality that is of interest: questions of value, meaning, and purpose that are forever beyond science's scope." (Ayala pp. 162-163)