From Quantum to Consciousness: Does Emergence Support the Language of Spirit?

Professor Philip Clayton of the Claremont School of Theology & Claremont Graduate University

The 2007-2008 Witherspoon Memorial Lecture in Religion and Science

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The framework of emergence is offering a radically different context for understanding the natural world. Scientists are discovering deep limitations on the project of reducing all phenomena “downward” to basic building blocks. The world turns out to form ever-new phenomena through a continual interplay between parts and larger wholes. The new paradigm of emergence opens interesting new spaces for the study of religion. Could it be that this “upward emergence” opens the door to the language of spirit? Is science now open to talk of human freedom and moral responsibility? Might the process of emergence point beyond the natural world? What of transcendence and religious experience?

Professor Clayton is the Ingraham Professor of Theology at the Claremont School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy and of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University. He holds a joint doctorate in philosophy and religious studies from Yale University. Prof. Clayton has written or edited 16 books and over 100 articles. The central focus of his work has been the relationship between science and religion, and he is recognized as one of the leading figures in this field internationally. Within the natural sciences, his research has focused on emergent dynamics in biology and the neural correlates of consciousness in neuroscience. His latest book, Adventures in the Spirit, on emergence and panentheism, will appear shortly from Fortress Press.