Please note, there are four main levels of expansion of Jeremy Griffith’s biological explanation of the human condition. The presentation that goes into all Jeremy’s explanations of the human condition at great length is provided in . Then there is Jeremy’s definitive presentation of his explanation in his 2016 book , which is the recommended text to read for a comprehensive understanding of his treatise. There is also the short, condensed version of FREEDOM in the booklet . Finally there are the which present all the main explanations in FREEDOM in wonderfully illustrated bite-sized portions. As well as these presentations there are various documents that deal with particular aspects of Jeremy’s treatise and of the World Transformation Movement that promotes that understanding. The contents of earlier books and publications about Jeremy’s treatise, including this essay, will in time be fully absorbed into and covered by the above presentations.
A BRIEF, 8-STEP DESCRIPTION OF
THE NATURE OF THE WTM’S WORK
The study of the human condition is at the cutting edge of science. In fact, scientists working in this area of inquiry are still referred to as heretics. This essay will explain why there has been resistance to opening up the paradigm of the human condition. One of the problems is that for the first time it takes science into the realm of religion.
This 8-step description is designed to introduce the reader to this area of study.
The WTM’s work is documented in several books, numerous essays and newsletters, and on our website. Commendations from many of the pioneer scientists working in our field of inquiry testify to the credibility of the science underpinning it (see section on our website). See also from over 100 of the world’s leading scientists and thinkers for The Human Condition Documentary Proposal. (Further praise for our more recent work can be found in the section on the WTM website.)
In this 8-step description each one of the steps of logic can be understood and verified as sound. There is no leap of logic—and most certainly no leap to faith.
1. The Frontier Of Science Now Is The Human Condition.
The words of one of the world’s leading biologists, Edward O. Wilson, establish clearly that the human condition is now the frontier of science. In his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, he wrote, ‘The human condition is the most important frontier of the natural sciences’, and in the March 1998 Atlantic Monthly journal he is quoted saying, ‘biology is the key to human nature’.
(It is worth recording here that way back in 1733, in his An Essay on Man, Alexander Pope saw that one day humanity would have to do better than leave the deeper questions about our troubled human nature or condition to faith, religion and God, and set about finding actual, first-principle, ameliorating understanding of ourselves, for in that essay he wrote: ‘Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man.’)
To define the dilemma of the human condition: if the universally accepted ideals or morals are to be cooperative, loving and selfless—and they have been accepted by the great civilisations as the basis for constitutions and laws and by the founders of all the great religions as the basis of their moral teachings—then why are we humans so competitive, aggressive and selfish? What is the reason for humans’ divisive natures?
2. The Subject Of The Human Condition Unavoidably Brings
Science Into The Realm Of Religion.
As the renowned physicist Paul Davies has said, ‘Science is now entering areas which for hundreds of years have been exclusively the province of religion’ (‘God Only Knows’, Compass, ABC-TV, 23 March 1997).
Through science, humanity has become capable of explaining religious metaphysics and dogma. For example, Stephen Hawking, holder of Newton’s Chair as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, has said, ‘God is the laws of physics’ (‘Master of the Universe’, Quantum, ABC-TV, 6 June 1990), and Paul Davies has said ‘these laws of physics are the correct place to look for God or meaning or purpose’ (God Only Knows, Compass, ABC-TV, 23 March 1997). Davies has also said that ‘humans came about as a result of the underlying laws of physics’ (Paul Davies—More Big Questions: Are We Alone in the Universe?, SBS-TV, 1999).
The two most influential books in biology today—their ideas are referred to in almost every biological document one reads—are Robert Wright’s 1994 The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are and Edward O. Wilson’s aforementioned Consilience. Both these books bring the dilemma of the human condition into focus and by so doing cross the divide into the realm of religion.
The cover lines on Wright’s book, ‘The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are’, say it is introducing ‘The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology’; that is, it claims to be introducing biological explanation for our human psychological state, for our nature, for ‘why we are the way we are’. This subject of ‘the way we are’—divisively rather than cooperatively behaved—is also the issue that religions have traditionally been concerned with, albeit using metaphysical and abstractly expressed concepts—such as ‘God’, ‘the devil’, ‘sin’, ‘evil’, ‘guilt’, ‘godliness’, ‘heaven’, ‘hell’, ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’.
Similarly, the title of Wilson’s book, ‘Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge’, refers clearly to the coming together, convergence, or reconciliation of the sciences and humanities; ultimately of biology and theology. An extract from the book, titled ‘The Biological Basis of Morality’, was published in the prestigious international Atlantic Monthly magazine (April 1998), with the summary ‘Philosophers and theologians have almost always conceived of moral instincts as being transcendent or God-given. Is it possible, though, that ethical reasoning derives not from outside but from our very nature as evolving material creatures?’ Significantly one of the headings used in the extract is ‘The Origins of Religion’.
3. However Science Has Only Begun To Address The
Issue Of The Human Condition.
Science is at last acknowledging that humans do have selfless, cooperative, ‘moral instincts’, and by doing so it has brought the dilemma of the human condition into focus. Selflessness and cooperation are at odds with the selfish, competitive and aggressive side of our nature. Our sense of morality is at odds with our divisive reality. We humans live in a state of psychological contradiction, uncertain and insecure about why we are the way we are, struggling with the dilemma of our condition. Are we humans a flawed species, a mistake—or are we possibly divine beings? Life has always been a constant struggle to understand the conflicting forces within us.
Charles Darwin explained the origin of the variety of life on Earth and connected humans with nature but he left unaddressed the question of why we humans are the way we are—divisively rather than cooperatively behaved. He did, however, acknowledge that the problem would one day have to be addressed and solved, saying at the very end of his 1859 book The Origin of Species, ‘In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation…Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.’
Quite sensibly, the way we humans learnt to cope with the depressing dilemma of the human condition was to deny it. Normally humans only referred to this deepest of issues in moments of extreme profundity. In his last published work before his death author Alan Paton wrote a deeply reflective essay in which he acknowledged this underlying insecurity we humans have about whether at base we are good or evil beings, saying: ‘I would like to have written one of the greatest poems in the English language—William Blake’s “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright”, with that verse that asks in the simplest words the question which has troubled the mind of man…for centuries: “When the stars threw down their spears / And watered heaven with their tears, / Did he smile his work to see? / Did he who made the lamb make thee?”’ (TIME, 1988). Blake’s poem poses the age-old riddle of how could the mean, cruel, indifferent and aggressive ‘dark side’ of our nature—represented by the poem’s metaphor of the ‘Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright / In the forests of the night’—be consistent with, and a product of the same force that created the lamb in all its innocence. Are we part of ‘God’s’ purpose and design or aren’t we?
As mentioned, it is religions that have traditionally catered for this struggle with the dilemma and uncertainty of what it is to be human. For example, religions comforted us by teaching that God loves us but of course, being conscious, self-managing organisms, we need to understand why we are lovable. Ultimately we couldn’t leave it to God to know—we couldn’t ‘presume…God to scan’ as Pope said—sooner or later we had to find understanding of ourselves.
Significantly, while ‘The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology’ did bring into focus the issue of our contradictory nature, the way it dealt with the issue was by nullifying it. Wright and Wilson acknowledge that humans have cooperative instincts but claim that these cooperative instincts derive from biological situations of reciprocity; situations where animals cooperate for mutual benefit—‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. They attribute a cooperative inclination in humans, our ‘moral instincts’, to a subtle form of selfishness—which eliminates any inconsistency between these instincts and our selfish reality.
Wright and Wilson nullify the problem of the human condition firstly by denying that cooperativeness is a meaningful theme in existence and then by claiming that humans don’t have truly ‘moral’, unconditionally cooperative, altruistic instincts. They deny teleology, the view that there is a cooperative purpose or meaning or design in the universe, and they deny humans have any instinctive orientation to such cooperativeness. In religious terms they deny ‘God’, and they dismiss our moral instincts or ‘soul’ as just a subtle form of selfishness. This evasive concept has not gone unprotested: ‘The discovery that tendencies to altruism are shaped by benefits to genes is one of the most disturbing in the history of science… [because] Understanding this discovery can undermine commitment to morality—it seems silly to restrain oneself if moral behavior is just another strategy for advancing the interests of one’s genes’ (Randolph Nesse quoted in Matt Ridley’s 1996 book on Evolutionary Psychology, titled The Origins of Virtue).
While Wright and Wilson have brought the moral dilemma of the human condition into focus they are in fact putting forward yet another clever evasion of it. The evasion is that they attempt to resolve the dilemma by denying it exists. By denying that we have unconditionally cooperative, truly selfless, altruistic, ‘moral’ instincts, and by denying that there is any cooperative theme to life they eliminate any possibility of dilemma. It’s the same as the strategy used to resist the now-accepted concept of Continental Drift: opponents of the concept maintained there were no plates in the Earth’s crust, in which case there was nothing to drift.
The truth is, mainstream biology is still evading the issue of the human condition. While conventional science has dared to bring the issue of the human condition into focus it is yet to genuinely confront it. The eminent biologist Charles Birch—he is described as ‘Australia’s leading thinker on science and God’—acknowledged this when he said: ‘this meeting of science and religion is as yet no bigger than a cloud on the horizon’ (quotes from an article titled ‘God’ by Deborah Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Feb. 1998).
4. Holism Has Been An Anathema For Science.
As mentioned, ‘teleology’ is the view that there is a cooperative, integrative purpose or meaning or design or theme in the universe. ‘Holism’ is another word that is sometimes used for teleology. The ‘alternative culture’ has embraced the concept of holism on the evasively superficial basis that holism refers to the interconnectedness of all matter, however the true, deeper, core meaning of holism is ‘the tendency in nature to form wholes’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary). Holism is an acknowledgement of the law in physics called negative entropy, which states that in an open system such as Earth’s, where energy can come in from outside the system (in our case from the sun), matter tends to come together or integrate to form ever larger and more stable wholes; negative entropy causes matter to self-organise and become more ordered and complex. Thus, on Earth, atoms have come together or integrated to form molecules, in turn molecules have integrated to form compounds, compounds have integrated to form single-celled organisms, single-celled organisms have integrated or come together to form multi-cellular organisms, and these, in turn, have integrated to form societies. In terms of behaviour, ‘integration’ requires that the parts of the new whole cooperate, which means behave selflessly; place the maintenance of the whole above maintenance of self. Put simply, selfishness is divisive or disintegrative, while selflessness is integrative. The word ‘love’ is one of our most used concepts, yet revealingly mechanistic science does not have a definition for it. However, the old Christian word for love was ‘caritas’, which means charity or giving or selflessness (see the Bible, Colossians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, 10:24 and John 15:13)—so God is love, or unconditional selflessness, or commitment to integration. Holism is an admission of a teleological, integrative, cooperative, loving, selfless purpose or meaning or theme or design in the universe.
While scientists have begun focusing on the human condition the majority, like Wright and Wilson, still deny (actually evade) an integrative, cooperative, loving purpose to existence. Some scientists, however, have begun to accept that design/ purpose/ meaning in existence is a fact. These scientists have begun to confront the truth of integrative/ cooperative meaning or, as Hawking and Davies referred to it, ‘God’ (Hawking’s statement, ‘God is the laws of physics’, was quoted earlier, and the particular law of physics that causes cooperative order to develop is, as explained in the preceding paragraphs, negative entropy).
The titles of the books written by those professors who have pioneered recognition of holism or integrative meaning are evidence (particularly the words I have underlined) of this emerging acceptance of holism. In 1971 John Morton wrote Man, Science and God, David Bohm wrote Wholeness and The Implicate Order in 1980; Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers wrote Order Out of Chaos in 1984; Paul Davies wrote God and the New Physics in 1983, The Cosmic Blueprint in 1987 and The Mind of God: Science and the Search for Ultimate Meaning in 1992; and Charles Birch wrote Nature and God in 1965, On Purpose in 1990 and Biology and The Riddle of Life in 1999.
The resistance these pioneers have encountered can be illustrated by quoting from an article titled Science Friction by Deidre Macken, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine (16 Nov. 1991) (view this article ). The article talks about a ‘scientific revolution’ and a coming ‘monumental paradigm shift’, and says that the few scientists who have ‘dared to take a holistic approach’ are seen by the scientific orthodoxy as committing ‘scientific heresy’. The article goes on to say that scientists taking the ‘holistic approach’, such as the Australians ‘physicist Paul Davies and biologist Charles Birch’, are trying ‘to cross the great divide between science and religion’, and are ‘not afraid of terms such as “purpose” and “meaning”’; adding that ‘Quite a number of biologists got upset [about this new development] because they don’t want to open the gates to teleology—the idea that there is goal-directed change is an anathema…The emerging clash of scientific thought has forced many of the new scientists on to the fringe. Some of the pioneers no longer have university positions, many publish their theories in popular books rather than journals, others have their work sponsored by independent organisations…Universities are not catering for the new paradigm.’
Incidentally, both professors Birch and Davies have won the extremely prestigious and rich (1.4 million dollars) Templeton Prize, which is awarded for ‘increasing man’s understanding of God’ (The Templeton Prize, Vol.3 1988–1992, p.108). Australians are playing a major role in pioneering holistic (unevasive) science.
Science traditionally has been mechanistic or reductionist, not holistic. It has traditionally maintained a reduced view of our world, focusing ‘down’ on the details and mechanisms of the workings of our world and avoiding looking ‘up’ at the confronting, whole, purpose-acknowledging view. A time had to come, however, when science would acknowledge a holistic purpose to existence. As renowned scientist and theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, anticipated, ‘I can see a direction and a line of progress for life, a line and a direction which are in fact so well marked that I am convinced their reality will be universally admitted by the science of tomorrow’ (The Phenomenon of Man, 1938).
In his 1999 book Biology and The Riddle of Life Charles Birch summarised the current situation where integrative meaning has at last been acknowledged by physicists, but for de Chardin’s predictions to fully come true biologists must also adopt it. Birch wrote, ‘Physicists and cosmologists regard self-organisation as the source of order in cosmic evolution up to and including the origin of life. Some of them, notably Paul Davies, have said that the onus is now on biologists to demonstrate the importance of self-organisation in biological evolution.’
5. The Reason Holism Has Been An Anathema Is
Because It Appears To Condemn Humans.
The question is, why has holism/ teleology been such an ‘anathema’? The answer is that holism asserts there is a cooperative purpose to existence and accepting that leads to the question why are we humans divisively behaved, which is the depressing question of the human condition that we humans haven’t been able to answer and thus confront. On the face of it, holism condemns humans, it confronts us with the condemning dilemma of the human condition. It says we humans are supposed to be cooperative, loving and selfless when our reality is that we are competitive, aggressive and selfish.
In religious terms we humans have been God-fearing, not God-confronting. We have lived our lives rightly afraid of the condemnation that acknowledgement of cooperative meaning brings. Trying to confront the truth of cooperative meaning while we couldn’t understand why we weren’t cooperatively ideal only led to dangerous, even suicidal, depression. As the Australian comedian Rod Quantock once said, ‘Thinking can get you into terrible downwards spirals of doubt’ (‘Sayings Of The Week’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 1986).
To avoid being dangerously depressed by the human condition we sensibly blocked the issue out of our minds, learnt to repress, evade and deny it. As philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein put it, in his now-famous line, ‘about that which we cannot speak, we must remain silent’ (Philosophical Investigations, 1953).
Humanity has had a responsibility to maintain an evasive approach to life—we had to find knowledge without becoming so depressed we destroyed ourselves. This was the very good reason science was mechanistic or reductionist, rather than whole-view-confronting or holistic.
While this evasion was most necessary, it produced an immense problem: how, having sensibly denied and repressed the issue of the human condition, were we to confront, investigate and find understanding of it when the time came to do so? That was the final riddle or conundrum, the Catch-22 of the human condition—ultimately, to solve the human condition we had to confront it, yet how could we confront it when we were committed to evading it?
In 1993 Professor Charles Birch gave the main address at an WTM Open Day in Sydney. In his address he said there were ‘two huge themes’ in my books; the first being ‘the nature of the world’, and the second being ‘the nature of human nature’. He went on to agree with me about the extreme limitations of science’s current mechanistic approach, saying: ‘there is a problem about that [mechanism], it can’t deal with certain questions…every individual entity, be it cell or an atom, and certainly human beings…is different by virtue of the relationships that they have with the whole that they belong to. Now that is the most important thing I think that one can begin to think about, the [integrative, holistic] nature of the world, the universe…and I think this is the sort of exploratory area which could transform a lot of thinking. In other words, science can’t deal with subjectivity…This [subjective, holistic, cooperative-meaning, human-condition-confronting aspect] is something that is very difficult to get your teeth into and yet it is the most important thing in the world…what we were all taught in universities for decades is really recognised now as pretty much a dead end’ (From WTM 1993 Newsletter 26).
Clearly to be able to acknowledge holism safely we humans first had to understand why we weren’t behaving holistically. We needed the explanation for our divisive condition before we could confront the truth of our condition. To be able to ‘get our teeth into’ the human condition we first had to understand our condition. There had to be an explanation, a biological reason for our divisive natures and we had to find it. As stated earlier, religious assurances such as ‘God loves you’, weren’t sufficient. Humans are understanding animals. Ultimately we had to understand who or what God is, and why we were lovable. Professor Paul Davies was making this precise point when he said, in his much quoted comment, that ‘science offers a surer path to God than religion’ (The Weekend Australian, 14-15 Dec. 1996).
We had to understand ourselves, why we haven’t been cooperatively behaved, before we could safely confront the truth of integrative/ cooperative meaning. Only by finding biological understanding of our divisive condition could we defend ourselves against the criticism that holism represented and end our need to evade and deny the whole depressing subject. In religious terms we needed to lift ‘the burden of guilt’ from humans, find the greater, dignifying, ameliorating understanding of ourselves, take humanity beyond the concepts of ‘good and evil’ to a reconciling understanding of this historic duality in our make-up. The Nobel laureate Albert Camus clearly stated the situation we were in when he wrote in a 1940 essay titled The Almond Trees: ‘…men have never ceased to grow in the knowledge of their destiny. We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but that we must refuse [to acknowledge] this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as men is to find those few first principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must stitch up what has been torn apart…’.
I should stress here that, contrary to the suggestion by some critics of my work that in bringing understanding to the human condition I am seeking to sanction evil, the finding of understanding of our divisive natures doesn’t condone evil; rather by bringing compassionate understanding to the conflict that caused evil behaviour, the conflict is ameliorated—or ‘stitched up’ as Camus said—and the evil behaviour is brought to an end. As the eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post has pointed out: ‘Compassion leaves an indelible blueprint of the recognition that life so sorely needs between one individual and another; one nation and another; one culture and another. It is also valid for the road which our spirit should be building now for crossing the historical abyss that still separates us from a truly contemporary vision of life, and the increase of life and meaning that awaits us in the future’ (Jung and The Story of Our Time, 1976).
Also, contrary to the view held by some that it is impossible to confront the subject of the human condition, the truth is we humans are capable of confronting the human condition when it is solved; when we have the dignifying explanation for why we have been divisively behaved. What is more, unless humanity solves the human condition the insecurity, depression and psychological blocking-out or denial or alienation that results from it can only become worse. We can only become more disconnected from our true selves and true world. Alienation begets alienation; how can it not, if it can’t be ameliorated. It is the real meaning of the biblical reference to ‘the sins of the father carrying on from generation to generation’. A recent book by clinical psychologist Dr Michael Yapko, pertinently titled Hand-Me-Down Blues (1999), records that ‘someone born since 1945 is likely to be up to 3 times more depressed than their parents and 10 times more than their grandparents’. Already we have arrived at the situation where ‘depression is now the second-biggest form of health disability in the western world’ (Channel Nine News, NSW, 28 March 2001).
The main objective of humanity’s search for knowledge—the ‘holy grail’ of all our intellectual effort—has been to understand, and by so doing ameliorate, the human condition. Solving the human condition is the prerequisite for a future for humans. Journalist Richard Neville summarised our species’ plight when he wrote: ‘We are locked in a race between self destruction and self discovery’ (Good Weekend magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Oct. 1986).
The situation was, then, that we had to solve the human condition, but again, the problem was, how were we to solve it while we were so averse to going near it?
6. The Catch-22 Of The Human Condition: How Were We To
Confront And Find The Reconciling Understanding Of It
While Being Unable To Confront It?
To accept holism we first had to explain why we have not been holistic, we had to explain the riddle of the human condition—but how do you find that explanation while being committed to avoiding the holistic truth? How do you confront the truth while you are evading it?
We are apparently trapped in a Catch-22 situation. We (humanity) acknowledge the need to solve the human condition but to solve it we must be able to be truthful and confront and acknowledge holism (and many other denied truths, such as the immensely alienated state of humanity) which for most people is so confronting it is dangerously, suicidally, depressing.
We had to solve the human condition to avoid self-destruction and bring about the fundamental change and improvement needed in our human situation, but how were we to begin to confront our condition, let alone study it closely and solve it? We were stalled in an ever worsening, pressure-cooker situation. Historian Eric Hobsbawn described humanity’s predicament when he wrote, in his 1994 book Age of Extremes, ‘The alternative to a changed society—is darkness’. Author Morris West was making the same point about the need to solve the human condition when he wrote, ‘We have to accomplish our salvation now…Tomorrow we may not be here’ (A View from the Ridge, 1996). And Spanish cellist Pablo Casals has also commented on how urgently we need the solution, saying, ‘The situation is hopeless. We must take the next step.’ An evocative and honest intimation of the reasons we haven’t been able to ‘take the next step’—which is our powerlessness to confront the subject of the human condition—can be found in the 1991 film Separate but Equal, where humanity’s predicament is described as ‘Struggling between two worlds; one dead, the other powerless to be born.’
7. The Answer To The Catch-22 Is That Soundness Was Required
To Confront And Solve The Human Condition.
Singer Tracey Chapman remained optimistic about this stalemate humanity has been facing when she wrote in her 1986 song, Why: ‘The time is coming soon; amidst all these questions and contradictions there’re some who seek the truth. But somebody’s gonna have to answer. The time is coming soon, when the blind remove their blinders and the speechless speak the truth.’ Significantly, while the majority of humanity couldn’t confront the human condition and lived in deep denial and evasion of the subject, there were, as Chapman says, still ‘some who seek the truth’. Sir Laurens van der Post once wrote, ‘the one primary and elemental approach to the problem [the world faces] is through [understanding] the being of man. Unfortunately it is an increasingly lonely way, trodden more and more not by masses but by solitary individuals…[only these few] sustain his [man’s] urge to seek an answer to the riddle of life…’ (The Dark Eye in Africa, 1955). (The ‘riddle of life’ is a euphemism for the dilemma of the human condition.)
What is being indicated here is a solution to the Catch-22 of the human condition: a solution to the problem of how will we, humanity, investigate the human condition while being committed to evading it? Since all humans have to evade or deny the issue of the human condition to the degree it is confronting and condemning of their particular reality, and since everyone’s reality is different, there must be some who have relatively little need to evade the subject of the human condition. Clearly it is to these few ‘solitary individuals’ among us that we can, and must look to, to solve the human condition. There must be people who are relatively free of the divisive condition that makes the integrative, cooperative ideals confronting and these people can safely look into the human condition.
Those who suffer from the condition can’t easily confront the condition. If they have adopted the denial or evasion or lies, they can’t expose those lies. Alienation cannot investigate alienation, it can’t undermine itself, it can’t self-expose. To confront the human condition requires relative freedom from the human condition—which in actuality means a nurtured childhood, an upbringing not exposed to the corruption, hurt, anger, alienation and dishonesty in the world. To look into the human condition requires what we recognise as ‘innocence’, with its soundness or lack of alienation.
The converse should also be pointed out: if a person has succeeded in grappling with, looking into and finding understanding of the human condition then they must have been sound enough not to have had to evade the issue of the human condition. They must be a relatively unevasive, honest thinker or, in religious terms, a ‘prophet’. Philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post is someone who has been described as a prophet ( where he is described as a prophet) and he has been able to acknowledge this truth that it requires soundness to look into the human condition, saying, ‘He who tries to go down into the labyrinthine pit of himself, to travel the swirling, misty netherlands below sea-level through which the harsh road to heaven and wholeness runs, is doomed to fail and never see the light where night joins day unless he goes out of love in search of love’ (The Face Beside the Fire, 1953). Christ is another exceptionally unevasive, honest thinker or prophet and he recognised the reality that ‘Satan can’t drive out Satan’ (Mark 3:23), that ‘a bad tree cannot bear good fruit’ (Matt. 7:18).
Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing once said, ‘Each child is a new beginning, a potential prophet’ (The Politics of Experience, 1967). Humans are born innocent and if they are extremely lucky and don’t encounter the corruption, hurt and alienation in the world as they grow up they will stay innocent or uncorrupted in soul. Being uncorrupted they will not feel depressingly condemned by the cooperative, loving, non-aggressive, non-divisive ideals of life, and thus they won’t be afraid of and have to block out and evade the integrative, cooperative ideals. They won’t suffer from the dilemma of the human condition, the dilemma of ‘why am I not ideally behaved’, so they won’t have become insecure about their state and won’t have had to block out or alienate themselves from the issue of the human condition; not being alienated or false they will retain the ability to think truthfully and thus effectively. They will, as Laing said, remain an honest, truthful, unevasive thinking ‘prophet’. As it says about prophets in the Bible they ‘delight in the fear of the Lord’ (Isaiah 11:3), that is they don’t fear the integrative, cooperative ideals because, unlike most people, they have not been corrupted during their upbringing and are therefore not condemned by those ideals.
The unavoidable fact is that inquiry into the human condition requires a degree of soundness or lack of alienation. This is simply an honest fact, not a statement that seeks to glorify soundness or condemn lack of it. In fact, while soundness is a state able and committed to being honest, it is also a state secure in self and thus not needing reinforcement from power, fame, fortune, glory or domination of others.
In the same way as it requires an exceptional IQ or intelligence quotient to study higher physics in the evasive mechanistic paradigm—in fact you can’t easily enter a university unless you have a high IQ, rigorously tested for over many years of examinations—so in the unevasive holistic paradigm it requires exceptional ‘soundness’, the lack of need to be evasive, to study the subject of the human condition. In the mechanistic paradigm there are university graduates and professors. Similarly, in the discipline of holistic science practical differentiations are made as to ability within the paradigm.
It is true that graduates and professors in the mechanistic paradigm don’t decide for themselves their qualifications in the way I am on record as having done, in recognising I am an unevasive thinker or prophet—rather society confers these qualifications on them. The distinction that needs to be explained here is the fundamental difference between evasive, mechanistic thinking and unevasive, holistic thinking. In step 5 it was described how mechanistic thinking evades the greater truths such as integrative meaning and the existence of humans’ alienated state. Because mechanistic thinking proceeds from an evasive, false basis it is not in a strong position to know whether an idea is true or not. Operating in a false framework is an insecure, uncertain way of thinking. Holistic thinking, on the other hand, working from a truthful basis, has an infinitely greater capacity to know if an idea is right or not. This was explained in my 1991 book Beyond The Human Condition with an analogy: ‘If you are in a lighted room as it were, and someone asks where the door is, you can confidently say it is there. If you are being evasive on the other hand, if you are in a dark room and someone asks where the door is, you say I think it is possibly over there somewhere. Evasive thinking is blind but unevasive thinking isn’t. Living with the truth, an unevasive mind knows when it is right and when it is wrong in its thinking. This is why unevasive or non-alienated people (such as the founders of the great religions) taught “as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (the Bible, Matt. 7:29).’ The unevasive thinker or prophet, Christ, also used the living-in-darkness analogy for alienation when he said, ‘the man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going’ (John 12:35).
Unevasive, holistic thinkers have an authoritativeness that evasive, mechanistic thinkers aren’t capable of and find difficult to relate to. In fact evasive, mechanistic thinkers tend to project their insecure view of the world onto the unevasive thinkers and assume the authoritativeness is arrogance. The forthright honesty of prophets can be misunderstood as hubris, but as has been pointed out, you can’t be secure enough to look into the human condition and be insecure and deluded. Evasive mechanistic thinkers ‘forget’ that having adopted an evasive position they have forfeited the ability to think truthfully and thus effectively. In the same sort of way, some incest victims, finding they can’t comprehend (make sense of) the abuse they have endured, decide that, if they are to survive it, they have no choice other than to block out any memory of it. ‘Repressed memories’, living in denial of an issue, is a common enough coping mechanism, but there is a down side or penalty to such practice. In the case of the incest victim, having blocked the issue out of their mind they are in no position to think truthfully and thus effectively about their psychological state. Humans who are living in denial of the crux issue in all human affairs of the human condition—and along with it are denying all the many truths that bring the human condition into focus, such as, to mention three already referred to, the truth of integrative meaning, the extent of human alienation and the importance of nurturing in our upbringing—have basically forfeited the ability to think truthfully. So fundamentally false is the paradigm they are living in that subjectivity for them cannot be trusted. This is the real reason mechanistic science abhors subjectivity. Again Christ explained the comparative integrity of unevasive thought when he said, ‘if I do judge my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father who sent me [I am truthfully guided by, I don’t evade, integrative meaning]’ (John 8:16).
The dictionary definition of a prophet is ‘someone who speaks for God’. Remembering that in unevasive scientific terms God is defined as the integrative, cooperative ideals and meaning of life, then being relatively free of evasion or alienation a prophet does speak for the cooperative ideals or God and can think unevasively, truthfully, authoritatively. Prophets such as Christ are a relatively uncorrupted or ‘innocent’ expression of humans’ original, cooperatively orientated instinctive self or soul; they are the image of God, metaphorically the ‘son of God’. To quote the adventurer and philosopher Bruce Chatwin, from his 1989 book What Am I Doing Here, ‘There is no contradiction between the Theory of Evolution and belief in God and His Son on earth. If Christ were the perfect instinctual specimen—and we have every reason to believe He was—He must be the Son of God. By the same token the First man was also Christ.’ (Note: the biological explanation for how humans were originally instinctively orientated to cooperativeness—in other words how we acquired our ‘soul’ and ‘conscience’—is explained in my book Beyond The Human Condition in the chapter ‘How we Acquired Our Conscience’. That chapter also explains and reveals the importance of nurturing in the maturation of humanity and in the maturation of our individual lives.)
Being uncorrupted, prophets haven’t had to block out and become alienated or separated from the truth of integrative or cooperative meaning. As Christ forthrightly said, ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).
Self-evaluation in the secure, unevasive world is simply a case of telling the truth. Self-description is honest, necessary statement of fact, not arrogant, deluded self-promotion. Despite the evasive mind’s cynical scepticism that inclines it to misjudge unevasive certainty as arrogance and delusion, it is vital that the unevasive mind never be intimidated by such blindness. Instead, the unevasive thinker must continue thinking truthfully, and keep telling people about, and standing by, the important truths that his unevasive mind alone can access. This responsibility is especially great when the issue the unevasive mind is throwing light on is the human condition. Christ was never intimidated by the blindness and resulting cynicism of the evasive world. He said, ‘I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret’ (John 18:20). He explained the predicament the unevasive mind is faced with when he said, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?’ (Mark 4:21).
In the holistic paradigm there is a fundamental need to differentiate between authority and arrogance.
In the unevasive, holistic paradigm, part of the work is to demystify the metaphysical concepts and language used by religion, explaining clearly what has previously been alluded to abstractly, including explaining what a prophet really is. For example, once scientists ‘let the truth out of the bag’, as Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies have done, that God is the laws of physics it becomes possible for an unevasive thinker or prophet to fearlessly bring attention to the fact that this important demystification had occurred. This particular demystification has long been anticipated. Christ said, ‘Though I [the ‘I’ being unevasiveness, which is what prophets such as Christ represent] have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will [be able to] tell you plainly about my father [God]’ (John 16:25). As Professor Charles Birch has said, ‘I think science has done a very important thing for theology—it has shown us what are the false views and the views that were superstitious that necessarily arose in a pre-scientific era’ (Australian Biography, SBS TV, 27 Sept. 1998).
It is critically important that I recognise and acknowledge myself as an unevasive thinker or ‘prophet’, and by explaining what a prophet is, demystify the word. The human journey is to demystify our world, be able to explain and thus understand it.
Just as the sophisticated, cleverly evasive, esoteric, intellectual world benefited from a high level or quotient of intelligence, so the unevasive, honest, human-condition-confronting new world requires a high level of soundness. The fact is, it is the more innocent who will lead humanity home to the full, compassionate, reconciling, dignifying, upset-subsiding, ameliorating truth about ourselves. This reality is clearly the meaning of the biblical story of David and Goliath, where it is a boy (since young children are innocent they are the ideal metaphor for innocence) who overcomes the monster Goliath (symbolising humans’ entrenched, all-dominating, false, alienated state of denial). Elsewhere in the Bible, in Isaiah 11, this truth is more clearly spelt out. Isaiah describes how ‘a child will lead them’ to the situation where the upset, corrupted state and the innocent state are reconciled; to where the ‘wolf will live with the lamb’. Again a child is the embodiment of innocence. Only innocence is not condemned by, and is thus unafraid of, the cooperative ideals of life. As Christ described the situation, ‘Everyone who does evil [becomes divisively behaved] hates the light [hates the truth of cooperative meaning], and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed…[divisively behaved] men loved darkness instead of light…everyone who sins is a slave to sin’ (John 3:20, 3:19, 8:34). Only innocence is able to ‘delight in the fear of the Lord’, as Isaiah described it; only innocence is able to face the cooperative ideals or God ‘face to face’ and be ‘still alive’ afterwards; is not ‘afraid of the fire’ (see Genesis 32:30 and Deuteronomy 5:4, 34:10), and thus is able to look into, find and then defend and support the full, greater dignifying explanatory truth about human behaviour—and by doing so, make ‘the earth…full of the knowledge of the Lord’, to use Isaiah’s words.
All mythologies recognise this truth of innocence having to lead humanity home. In the great European legend of King Arthur, the wounded (alienated) king, whose realm was devastated, could only have his wound healed and his realm restored by the arrival in his kingdom of a simple, naive boy. In the legend the boy’s name is Parsifal, which means ‘guileless fool’. To the alienated only a naive, guileless fool would dare approach and grapple with the confronting truths about our divisive condition. In his 1885 sonnet, No Worst, There is None, Gerard Manley Hopkins unerringly described the dangerous depression that confronts all but the innocent if they ‘try to go down into the labyrinthine pit of himself, to travel the swirling, misty netherlands below sea-level’, to use van der Post’s words again. In his sonnet Hopkins wrote, ‘O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer, no-man fathomed. / Hold them cheap / May [any] who ne’er [have never] hung there.’ ‘Hung’ is the perfect word for depression, for the state that there is ‘no worse’ than, and Hopkins says that the only people who ‘hold’ the psychological depths where the human condition resides ‘cheap’ are those who don’t experience depression when they attempt to ‘fathom’ those ‘frightful’ depths. For everyone else it is a foolish undertaking.
In more recent mythology there is Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which a child breaks the spell of denial and deception and discloses the truth. In Australia’s most famous poem, A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River, it is the ‘stripling’ boy who rounds up the wild horses after the men have failed. Only innocence can overcome alienation, tame and return the escaped truth.
The alienated simply cannot open the door to the human condition—or easily help hold it open—because that door is our block-out or denial or evasion or alienation. In the human condition-confronting new world the order of alienated and innocent is reversed. Soundness takes over from cleverness. Innocence comes to the fore now to lead us back home to soundness and away from the alienated state. ‘The meek…inherit the earth’ (see Matt. 19:30, 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30).
The foregoing material has summarised the nature of the work I and the WTM are involved in; we are bringing about understanding of the underlying issue in all human affairs, explaining the human condition. It can be seen that the work is entirely rational and biological in nature. There are no outlandish or ridiculous concepts involved, and no quasi, pseudo science involved, and no leaps of logic. Further, there is no use of metaphysical language, mysticism or dogma to account for phenomena. Quite the reverse, the work is about bringing demystifying, first-principle understanding to the realm of the human condition, the realm where historically all manner of religious dogma, mysticism and metaphysics have been employed. For example it is explained that the human condition is the biological term for the religious concepts of ‘good versus evil’ and ‘heaven versus hell’. God is explained. Humans’ insecure, evasive, God-fearing alienated state is explained. Humans’ historical need for faith is explained and made redundant.
Dealing with the human condition necessarily involves demystifying religious concepts and it necessarily involves an unevasive thinker, or what religions have termed a ‘prophet’, and it unavoidably involves explaining the words of prophets, such as Christ. Although unusual, all these aspects are necessary aspects of this particular biological inquiry.
In pre-scientific times religions were sometimes founded around the soundness, honesty and integrity of unevasive-thinking prophets. However, now that we have developed science, the role of unevasive thinkers is the very opposite of creating a religion. The task of contemporary prophets is to bring understanding and amelioration to the human condition, in the course of which they unavoidably demystify religion and make the need for subservience of self to a faith obsolete.
Unevasive thinkers in earlier times could not find understanding of the human condition because science had yet to be formulated and fulfil its job of finding the details and mechanisms underpinning the workings of our world, without which clarifying explanation of the human condition was not possible. There are many acknowledged modern-day prophets such as, to name a few, William Wordsworth, Arthur Koestler, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, Antoine de Saint-Expuéry, Albert Camus, R. D. Laing, Sir Laurens van der Post ( where he is acknowledged as a prophet) and the Australian educator, Sir James Darling ( where he is acknowledged as a prophet). Templeton Prize-winning Australian physicist Paul Davies has been described as a ‘latter day prophet’ (‘God Only Knows’, Compass, ABC-TV, 23 March 1997). Similarly, Templeton Prize-winning Australian biologist Charles Birch has been described as a ‘scientist-prophet’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 2000).
To be dedicated to explaining the human condition, as my work clearly is, means I cannot be concerned with putting myself forward as a religious figure of worship. To be dedicated to reconciling humans with the ideals of life or ‘God’ by explaining the human condition and in the process explaining all manner of religious dogma and metaphysics is to be dedicated to making the need for faith and religion obsolete. It takes humanity Beyond [the insecure state of] The Human Condition, the state of insecurity that religions catered for. It takes humanity as a whole from the insecure state of adolescence to the secure state of adulthood—hence the World Transformation Movement’s former name ‘Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood’. It brings the real Consilience between theology and biology. As I stated in my 1991 book Beyond The Human Condition, ‘this is the end of faith and belief and the beginning of knowing’.
While the work of unevasive thinkers or ‘prophets’ is involved, it doesn’t mean that we are creating a new religious movement or putting forward some kind of deity or figure of worship or even figure of reverence. In fact quite the opposite is true; the WTM simply can’t be concerned with demystifying religion and trying to create a religion. Explaining the human condition, and in the process demystifying religion, ends people’s psychological need for self-abandonment, or deferment of self, to someone else, be it deity or figure of reverence. It also brings an end to the concept of someone being superior to someone else; and it releases us from the abstract, ethereal, supernatural view of divinity.
Similarly, the WTM’s work of bringing understanding to the human condition and with it the ability to self-manage is completely the opposite of the self-abandonment involved in the way charlatans or ‘false prophets’ work, where people are led to transcend the confronting issue of self and cope by deferring to others. Our work involves confronting and making sense of the deeper questions, not transcending them. It is about becoming mind-full, not mind-less. The WTM is concerned with knowledge, not mysticism and dogma.
In Step 5 above it was explained that the only way to relieve the human condition is by confronting and solving it. We had to confront and find understanding of our human-condition-tortured, guilt-ridden, God-fearing, insecure, upset angry, egocentric and alienated state. Evading, escaping and transcending our condition are not real solutions. This means that the think-positive, human-potential-and-self-esteem-promoting, self-improvement, motivational, tree-hugging, dolphin-patting, feel-good—basically human-condition-avoiding—pseudo-idealistic, pseudo-holistic, superficially-sensitive and artificially-utopian so-called New Age industry is being led by charlatans—false prophets. People who proclaim that the way to relieve and even heal our condition is by learning better ways to block-out, escape and transcend it were ultimately only leading humanity to a state of even greater denial/ dishonesty/ alienation. As philosopher Thomas Nagel said, ‘The capacity for transcendence brings with it a liability to alienation, and the wish to escape this condition…can lead to even greater absurdity’ (The View From Nowhere, 1986). (A detailed analysis of the dishonesty and delusion involved in the pseudo-idealistic New Age and related politically correct, artificially deconstructionist, ‘post-modern’, ‘socialistic’, ‘left wing’ movements is given in .)
As the level of alienation in the world rapidly escalates, so does people’s inclination to try and escape their condition through artificial forms of reinforcement, and there are always people ready to exploit this developing frailty. Christ anticipated this time when alienation and associated depression would reach a crescendo, saying, ‘For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short [by the arrival of the liberating understanding of the human condition], no-one would survive’ (Matt. 24:21, 22). As mentioned earlier, ‘depression is now the second-biggest form of health disability in the western world’. If the dignifying, ameliorating, reconciling understanding of the human condition hadn’t been found, the prospects for humanity were of all-pervading grinding poverty in the ‘unsuccessful’ poor parts of the world, and of all-pervading paralysing alienation and its product, depression, in the garrisons of the ‘successful’ wealthy world.
With regard to people being ready to exploit the rapidly developing frailty in humans, Christ warned strongly that false prophets would proliferate at this end-time when alienation with its need for escapism would reach a crescendo, saying ‘Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather’, and ‘many false prophets will appear and deceive many people’ (Matt. 24:28, 11) Notice that in he was equally strong in his condemnation of pseudo-idealism, describing socialism as ‘liberal slush’ and ‘a rotting corpse’.
This last point about prophets’ honesty and defiance of artificiality raises the important point that Christ went on to make which is that it would not be difficult to differentiate true, human-condition-confronting prophets from the proliferation of false prophets because, unlike the artificially-reinforcing, delusion-fuelling, feel-good work of false prophets, the work of a true prophet will be terrifyingly exposing and confronting. He said: ‘For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the desert,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…“the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken”’ (Matt. 24:24–29).
(With regard to the preceding quote, it needs to be explained that the inference of ‘the second coming’ refers to the arrival of the dignifying and thus liberating truth about the human condition that science makes possible. It is the intellect of humans—the ‘holy spirit’, the third part of the ‘trinity’, in religious terminology—expressed in the form of science, which discovered the details and mechanisms underpinning the workings of our world, that made it possible to assemble the clarifying, dignifying, ameliorating explanation of the human condition. As Christ said, ‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things [in particular it will make it possible to explain the riddle of the human condition]’ (John 14:26). As is emphasised in my books, while an unevasive thinker or prophet—an uncorrupted expression of our original instinctive orientation to cooperative ideality, a ‘son of man’—was always going to be needed to assemble the unevasive truth about the human condition from the hard-won insights that science found, the true liberator of humanity, or ‘messiah’, or ‘second coming’, is science. There are always a few prophets in any generation but without science their unevasive ability lacked the first-principle insights into the workings of our world needed to resolve the human condition.)
True prophets confront the human condition, they don’t seek to escape from it. Their truth and honesty is typically, to use Hopkins’ adjective, ‘frightfully’ exposing and thus confronting. Using the same frightening storm metaphor that Christ employed, the prophet Nietzsche said about the work of true prophets, ‘I am a prophet of the lightning and a heavy drop from the cloud…I want to teach men the meaning of their existence: which is the Superman, the lightning from the dark cloud man’ (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883–85; trans. 1954).
In the case of the arrival of the ultimate truth about humans—namely understanding of the human condition—it will come, as Christ said, like terrifying rolling thunder. Understanding of the human condition brings phenomenal change, and change on such a scale is terrifying for people. Alvin Toffler coined the term ‘future shock’ and defined it as ‘the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time’ (Future Shock, 1970). With the arrival of understanding of the human condition comes the real ‘future shock’, ‘culture shock’, ‘paradigm shift’, ‘gestalt switch’, ‘sea change’ and ‘brave new world’ we have long anticipated. Having lived in deep denial of the truth about our corrupted condition humans suddenly face truth day, honesty day, exposure day, self-confrontation day—‘judgement day’ or ‘revelation day’ or ‘the day of reckoning’—when all our denials or alienations are exposed. When understanding of our divisive state at last arrives we humans can’t help feeling that the foundations of our existence are being destroyed, despite the fact that these foundations—our old artificial defences—are actually being superseded by the real support structure, namely the actual understanding of our divisive state that we have always needed and sought. A Turkish poet got it right when he said that judgement day is ‘Not the day of judgement but the day of understanding’ (unnamed Turkish poet, mentioned in National Geographic, Nov. 1987).
While all-dignifying and thus all-liberating, the truth about ourselves—which is what the explanation of the human condition that the WTM is putting forward amounts to—is at the same time all-exposing. What the WTM is putting forward is no false prophet’s escape trip.
Make no mistake, in delivering the long-sought-after and now urgently needed liberating understanding of the human condition, the WTM is at the same time bringing the ultimate self-confronting change for humans—‘judgement day’ no less. It needs to be emphasised here that, while the change from living in evasion and denial to living in confrontation with the truth about ourselves that necessarily occurs during the liberation of humans from the human condition is a massive change and therefore naturally difficult, it is not unmanageable. The WTM would have no members if it were unmanageable.
Real freedom lies in the direction opposite to the one false prophets take people. The WTM can’t be involved in confronting the human condition and involved in creating an escape from their insecure state.
It also needs to be re-emphasised that to be able to look into the human condition, as I have done, depends on security and soundness of self, traits that are the very antithesis of the delusion and egocentricity that motivate ‘false prophets’. A person cannot be deluded and have the soundness to plumb the depths of humanity’s psychosis. Again, as the unevasive thinker Christ said, ‘Watch out for false prophets…By their fruits you will recognise them…A good tree can’t bear bad fruit’ (Matt. 7:15-18) and ‘Satan can’t drive out Satan’ (Mark 3:23). You can’t be immensely sane and at the same time be immensely insane.
To summarise, ‘science’ derives from the Latin scientia which means knowledge, and knowledge is fundamentally about empowering, not disempowering the individual. The ultimate ‘knowledge’ or understanding that science has sought, the ultimate empowering information is self-understanding; understanding of the human condition—to repeat what Edward Wilson said: ‘The human condition is the most important frontier of the natural sciences…biology is the key to human nature.’
It has been explained in these 8 steps that solving the human condition required an unevasive thinking scientist, a contemporary prophet-scientist. What is involved is the real—as opposed to Wilson’s and Wright’s contrived—conciliation or reconciliation of religion and science, a conciliation that brings an end to the need for evasive science, for religion and for denial, delusion and escapism.
(Please note that a more detailed description of the different roles of mechanistic and holistic science is given in Jeremy’s books, , , , , and his 2016 summa masterpiece, . All publications are available on this website.