On a Coleridge Quote


“Samuel Taylor Coleridge: To believe and to understand are not diverse things, but the same things in different periods of growth.”

Coleridge was talking in a religious philosophical context where belief is the foundation. He was not speaking in a scientific context where understanding is more primary. He was, above all, a romantic poet, a
philosopher inspired by German thought, one given to opium, and a brilliant
thinker also. [He was an Anglican in religious persuasion.]
It is true that when (religious) belief is etched in the heart, there is also a special kind of understanding about the human condition. This is the sort of
thing that Coleridge was probably talking about.
On the other hand, in science the goal is to understand the myriad
workings of the phenomenal world. When that understanding is there, one’s
belief about Nature and Human Existence is also considerably altered.
Thus it is perhaps fair to say that in religion, belief leads to understanding of one kind; and in science, understanding leads to belief of another kind.
The understanding that religions provide gives meaning and purpose to human existence. The belief that science leads us to provides an intellectual appreciation bordering on mystical experience about the
phenomenal world.
Each is enriching in its own different way.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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