Daniel C. Matt

Kabbalah and Contemporary Cosmology: Discovering the Resonances
Thursday March 6 2003, 7:30 - 9:30 PM, Corwin Pavilion, University Center


The big bang serves as the scientific Creation myth of our culture. What does it have to do with God? How can it help us discover a spiritual dimension in our lives and recover a sense of wonder? In answering these questions, I draw on the insights of Jewish mysticism as well as contemporary cosmology. I suggest several parallels, e.g., between what physicists call “broken symmetry” and what Kabbalah calls “the breaking of the vessels.” But my purpose is not to demonstrate that 13th-century kabbalists knew what cosmologists are now discovering. Rather, in juxtaposing these two distinct approaches--scientific and spiritual--I experiment with seeing each in light of the other. Spirituality and science are two tools of understanding that should not be confused; each is valid in its domain. Occasionally, though, their insights resonate. By sensing these resonances, our understanding deepens, nourished by mind and heart.

Daniel C. Matt served as Professor of Jewish Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California from 1979-2000. He received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has published six books, including: Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment; The Essential Kabbalah; and God and the Big Bang. He is currently living in Jerusalem and working on the first annotated English translation of Sefer ha-Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition.


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Daniel Matt delivered his lecture to several hundred attendees at Corwin Pavilion. His address was followed by comments from two faculty members, a question-and-answer session, and a general reception. Below are some pictures from his visit.

Jim Proctor introduces the evening's lecture.
Rabbi Stephen Cohen of Hillel UCSB introduces Prof. Matt.
Daniel Matt delivers his lecture to the crowd.
Professor Barbara Holdrege of UCSB's Religious Studies Department delivers comments on Prof. Matt's lecture.
Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Walter Kohn delivers further comments on Prof. Matt's lecture.
Walter Kohn, Barbara Holdrege, and Daniel Matt entertain questions and offer their perspectives during the question-and-answer session.
The audience in Corwin Pavilion listens to the presentation.


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