University of Calgary

Biocomplexity guru praised

January 26, 2009

Stuart Kauffman’s new book short-listed for inaugural Warwick Prize

Stuart Kauffman

Stuart Kauffman

Reinventing the Sacred, the new book by U of C professor Stuart Kauffman that proposes redefining God as the unpredictable creativity of the universe, is in the running for a new $85,000 British literary prize.

Kauffman’s book, which was released last year, is one of six being considered for the inaugural Warwick Prize for Writing, created by the University of Warwick. The prize is an international cross-disciplinary award that will be given biennially for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form, on a theme that will change with every award. The theme of the 2009 prize is Complexity. The award’s short-list was announced on January 22 and includes Canadian author Naomi Klein’s latest work The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The winner will be announced Feb. 24.

Kauffman, a renowned systems biologist and theoretician, is director of the U of C’s Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics. He is currently teaching in the spring term at Harvard Divinity School.

In Reinventing the Sacred, Kauffman uses complexity theory to argue that the traditional reductionist worldview of science is inadequate to explain the infinite possibilities of evolution and human history and that the highest levels of organization are the result of the unpredictable process of emergence. He then outlines his belief that this “ceaseless creativity” could be basis for a modern redefinition of what humanity considers most sacred.

“God is the most powerful symbol we have and it has always been up to us to choose what we deem to be sacred,” Kauffman said. “To me, the idea that we are the product of 3.8 billion years of unpredictable evolution is more awe-inspiring than the idea than the idea that everything was created in six days by an all-knowing Creator.”

For more information about the Warwick Prize, visit: www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/prizeforwriting/