Needham on “The Great Amphibium” and the “Numinous”

In his book of 1931, The Great Amphibium, the scientist and historian of Chinese science Joseph Needham complained that science and materialism neglected issues such as God, Freedom and Immortality: “It is worthwhile to persist in trying to communicate the incommunicable and to speak the unspeakable”. He described religion as “numinous experience”: “Not how the world is, but that it exists at all in the form which we know, is the mystical. Scientific thought stands completely helpless before that profound element of arbitrariness which characterises the world… the world itself is at bottom alogical, arbitrary, inscrutable, affording no possible answer to the question why it should be as it is and not otherwise”. Does this seem like Zen to you?

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