Sunday, February 13, 2011

Doris Hamill and the Search for Transcendence

I thought it appropriate this morning to write about a book, "The Challenge of Why: A Secular Search for Human Purpose" by Doris Hamill.

It seems all my life I've personally held a love for science and a love for God--the intelligent life force that permeates the Universe--together in my heart and mind. That's why I'm always searching for authors and works that explore spiritual and philosophical viewpoints from a scientific basis. I am thrilled to discover Doris Hamill.

god, religion, philosophy, transcendence, life, Langley, NASA, complexification, differentiation, integrationDuring the day, Doris Hamill works in the Strategic Relationships Office at Langley Research Center, where she develops business for NASA with the Department of Defense and intelligence communities at Langley. She is clearly one of America's brightest minds, and we can all be proud that people of this caliber have given their talents to developing uses for technology to persue peace and protection for us all. Away from Langley, Hamill's time is so consumed by the work on her philosophical activities that her only leisure activity is walking for fitness. "There's not room in my life for another passion the size of this one," Hamill said of the message of "The Challenge of Why."

The book is a product of a combination – or perhaps collision -- of a Catholic school education, followed by the study of science in college. In the subtitle "secular" can be a bit misleading. Although the book doesn't start with a belief in God, by the end, Hamill concludes, "God, then, is not a mystical being. God is within us and among us, as ambient and tangible as our character and our culture. God is real. God exists."

"When you get through bringing in all kinds of scientific knowledge and logic and argument,” Hamill said, “what you have is something that is indeed compatible with a lot of the world’s religions – not one religion or another religion, but all religions."

Those ideas propelled her to write and publish, and it's propelling her now to revise -- not the book, but the way she presents her arguments because she believes she has a story to tell. "The Challenge of Why" is a thesis, a combination of research and philosophy that postulates that human progress is a result of differentiation and integration that form complexity." Differentiation allows for society’s functions to be specialized, as a car is built by people who each have an individual job. But, like the car, society requires that differentiation itself to be integrated into a complex system.

"Every good thing that we have," Hamill said, "excepting maybe our husbands and wives, every good technological thing that we have is a result of this 'complexification.'"

And then she takes it a step further, bringing forth the real purpose of the book: She maintains that society itself produces a better life for all people through this same kind of complexification. "If you extrapolate from that, what does that demand from us in the future?" Hamill said. "It demands that we work together, and more than just to produce a technological product." Complexification could produce "transcendence” into a society that evolves beyond Darwinian selection into a culture in which everyone functions in a way to benefit everyone else.

"It's quite possible, I think," said Hamill, "that if we can integrate ourselves more fully, we can transcend the human condition into something else qualitatively different."

As Hamill explained her book, and the thought processes behind it, emotion gushed forth and she grew increasingly animated. "Of course there's passion," she said. "If you understand the intellectual case I'm making, it's very easy to become touched by it, to understand what it implies, not only for oneself personally, but for one's environment."

Please read much more of this fascinating interview on Langley Researcher News.

Peace out,

1 comment:

  1. Very awesome. I love this part: "God is within us and among us, as ambient and tangible as our character and our culture." It touches base on some things that I believe in strongly in regards to "oneness". :)


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