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Interfaces between Science and Spirituality

One of the public intellectuals with the greatest impact on contemporary Brazilian and world thought, Gleiser researches the origin of nature's complex structures in order to discover the meaning of the world and our place in the grand scheme of things. Winner of three Jabuti prizes, he is internationally recognized for his works and in academic circles for being a science communicator, showing how the most complex theories are interconnected with our daily lives. In The End of Earth and Sky - The Apocalypse in Science and Religion, he points out how ideas about a possible end inspire not only scientific research and religions, but also literature, art and cinema. The book is a tribute to humanity's imagination and creativity. In an interview with the PUCRS Portal, Gleiser answered questions about spirituality and science. Check it out:

How do science and spirituality impact on the activities of the medical profession?

Science is clearly essential in medicine. Virtually every major advance in the treatment and prevention of disease is the product of scientific research and discovery. We're seeing this acutely now during the pandemic, as the hope of an end is directly linked to the production of an effective vaccine. As for spirituality, it depends on how we see the term. If we understand spirituality as being at one with yourself and the world around you, having a sense of well-being and belonging to a community is fundamental. After all, the body is only well when we are well as a whole. You say that there is much more to it than the limited vision of reality that we know.

Are people ready for a deeper understanding of life?

Absolutely. I think people need a deeper understanding of life; that's the only way to avoid dispersing it, living each day without a greater direction or purpose. The question everyone should ask themselves is: why do you wake up every day? What is your mission in life? Broadening your horizons means knowing how to live well. How can this knowledge be made more popular, bringing it closer to people's reality? Through conversations like the one we're about to have, by exploring new horizons with friends or on your own, by reading credible content that doesn't spread easy illusions. Achievement only comes with hard work. In a way, science allows us to broaden our vision of reality, using a series of instruments.

What will these tools be in the future?

There are many, but I think two things will dominate the instrumentation of the future: ever greater automation - increasingly autonomous robots and computers that will perform complex services and tasks more efficiently than humans; and miniaturization, in particular nanotechnology, which will bring great advances in medicine. But for this to happen, people have to prepare, and universities and preparatory courses have to adapt to this new reality. Eventually, I think we'll have a kind of alliance between body and technology, expanding our physical and mental capacity. The Academic League of Health and Spirituality at PUCRS: Founded with the aim of dialoguing about a more integrated approach to human health, it seeks to contemplate the philosophical aspects of spirituality, as well as the positive and negative outcomes of religiosity in coping with the illnesses and adversities experienced by patients. In addition, it promotes the deconstruction of a historical ambivalence that science and faith are dichotomous phenomena, opening up space for a constructivist, aggregating and supportive discussion in the academic environment. It is made up of faculty directors and undergraduate student coordinators from the Medicine and Psychology courses. It also has 30 members from the health sector, forming a space for multi-professional discussion.


The author: Marcelo Gleiser, from Rio de Janeiro, is an internationally renowned scientist, full professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College, with a doctorate from King's College London in 1986. He is the author of more than 100 specialized articles and thousands of essays, published in everything from the New York Times to children's magazines. Holder of the Presidential Faculty Fellows Award, given by then President Bill Clinton, advisor to the American Physical Society, winner of three Jabuti prizes, he is the author of 14 books with translations into 15 languages. He founded and directs the Institute for Interdisciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth College. In 2019, he was the first Latin American to win the Templeton Prize, one of the most prestigious in the world, an honor he shares with Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and scientists Freeman Dyson, Martin Rees, and other religious and intellectual leaders.

  • Francisco Di Biase – Culture of Healthy

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