“Certainly not, but science, too, is based on personal experience, or on the experiences of others, reliably reported.” Heisenberg

The outlines of the harbor installations stood out
sharply, and after we had been standing at the end of the jetty
for a while, Wolfgang asked me quite unexpectedly:

“Do you believe in a personal God? I know, of course, how
difficult it is to attach a clear meaning to this question, but you
can probably appreciate its general purport.”

“May I rephrase your question?” I asked. “I myself should
prefer the following formulation: Can you, or anyone else, reach
the central order of things or events, whose existence seems
beyond doubt, as directly as you can reach the soul of another
human being? I am using the term ‘soul’ quite deliberately so as
not to be misunderstood. If you put your question like that, I
would say yes. And because my own experiences do not matter so
much, I might go on to remind you of Pascal’s famous text, the
one he kept sewn in his jacket. It was headed ‘Fire’ and began
with the words: ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-not of the
philosophers and sages.’ I hasten to add that, in this particular
form, the text does not apply to me.”


“In other words, you think that you can become aware of the central order with the same intensity as of the soul of another person?”

“Perhaps.”

“Why did you use the word ‘soul’ and not simply speak of
another person?”

“Precisely because the word ‘soul’ refers to the central order, to
the inner core of a being whose outer manifestations may be
highly diverse and pass our understanding.”

“I am not sure whether I am completely with you. After all, we
must not exaggerate the importance of our own experiences.”

“Certainly not, but science, too, is based on personal experience, or on the experiences of others, reliably reported.”

====

“I agree with Max Weber that, ultimately, pragmatism bases
its ethics on Calvinism, i.e., on Christianity. If we ask Western
man what is good and what is evil, what is worth striving for and
what has to be rejected, we shall find time and again that his
answers reflect the ethical norms of Christianity even when he
has long since lost all touch with Christian images and parables.

If the magnetic force that has guided this particular com pass-
and what else was its source but the central order?-should ever
become extinguished, terrible things may happen to mankind,
far more terrible even than concentration camps and atom
bombs.”

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