chapter  2
19 Pages

The Tower of Babel, Pentecostal science and the language of epidemics

ByDAVID WALTNER-TOEWS

The universe is a set of relationships The universe is a set of relationships. These relationships are embodied in conversations – conversations within conversations within conversations. These are coded into languages. Some of these are modes of communication that we normally think of as language, and are apprehensible through our senses: animal sounds and biochemical transmissions might come to mind. Others are not directly perceptible, known only by their effects: gravity and atomic forces are the best examples here. Framed in this way, everything we think we know about ourselves and the universe, including this statement, is an emergent property of the observer and the observed, of the questions we ask, and the responses we receive. The overwhelming but uncertain evidence for this is everywhere around us. Every conversation changes the conversants: that is how the universe exists and unfolds. What we struggle with, as people, and, more specifically as scientifically trained scholars, is finding a language that can not only encompass the complex uncertainty, but enable us to engage in it more fully.