Please note, links to all the Freedom Essays are included at the end of this essay. Open any essay to read, print, download, share or listen to it (as a podcast).
This is Freedom Essay 41
Is science’s scorn of religion legitimate?
Written by Jeremy Griffith, 2017
Many scientists scorn religion. But as the three previous Freedom Essays (, & ) showed, now that we have the scientific explanation of the human condition (see ), we can see how extraordinarily insightful some religious metaphors are.
For example, now that we understand that our angry, egocentric and alienated state was the result of a clash between our emerging consciousness (see ) and our pre-established, loving instincts (see ), we can appreciate just how accurate the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, Moses’s 3,500-year-old, pre-scientific description of the human condition, is.
The book of Genesis story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden describes the primary situation involved in our human condition of the psychologically upsetting battle that emerged between our instincts and our conscious intellect’s search for knowledge. It says Adam and Eve/we were ‘created…in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27), obviously meaning we once lived in a pre-human-condition-afflicted state of original innocence where we were perfectly instinctively orientated to the cooperative, selfless, loving, integrative, ‘Godly’ ideals of life (‘God’ being explained in as being the integrative meaning of life). The Genesis story then says that Adam and Eve were ‘disobedient’ (the term widely used in descriptions of Gen. 3) and ate the ‘fruit’ (Gen. 3:3) ‘from the tree of knowledge of good and evil’ (Gen. 2:9, 17) because it was ‘desirable for gaining wisdom’ (Gen. 3:6). In other words, we developed a conscious mind and free will. The story then says Adam and Eve (i.e. we fully conscious humans) then became perpetrators of ‘sin’ (Gen. 4:7) and were regarded as ‘evil’ (Gen. 3:22), and as a result were ‘banished…from the Garden of Eden’ (Gen. 3:23) of our species’ original Edenic state of innocence (the dictionary definition of ‘Edenic’ being ‘the first home of Adam and Eve…a state of innocence, bliss, or ultimate happiness’ (The Free Dictionary)). So the story recognised that our ‘fallen’ (derived from the title of Gen. 3, ‘The Fall of Man’), corrupted angry, egocentric and alienated, psychologically upset, human-condition-stricken state developed, which then, through ‘gaining wisdom’, had to be understood in order for us to become ‘like God, knowing good and evil’ (Gen. 3:3), a state of psychologically relieving and rehabilitating understanding that has now arrived and is presented in FREEDOM.
We can see that Moses’s account of the origins or ‘Genesis’ of the human condition recognises the elements of an original instinctive orientation which then came into conflict with a conscious mind. All Moses lacked to fully explain the human condition was the scientific explanation of the difference between genes and nerves, which defends our ‘disobedience’. It is this explanation that is presented in FREEDOM (and ) that finally allows us to understand that even though we became immensely psychologically upset sufferers of anger, egocentricity and alienation for participating in humanity’s search for knowledge, we weren’t ‘evil’; in fact, we are the heroes of the story of life on Earth! However, this redeeming insight, that Moses lacked the scientific knowledge to be able to explain, was to take a further 3,500 years to discover!
It is of some significance that while Moses’s account is perhaps the most widely recognised, virtually all religions contain a metaphor about the rise of consciousness corrupting an innocent state—as the author Richard Heinberg notes in his book Memories & Visions of Paradise (see for more from Heinberg, along with examples from mythology):
Every religion begins with the recognition that human consciousness has been separated from the divine Source, that a former sense of oneness…has been lost…everywhere in religion and myth there is an acknowledgment that we have departed from an original…innocence and can return to it only through the resolution of some profound inner discord…the cause of the Fall is described variously as disobedience, as the eating of a forbidden fruit [from the tree of knowledge], and as spiritual amnesia [forgetting, blocking out, alienation/psychosis].
So despite the scorn prominent mechanistic scientists have been pouring on religion recently—for example (and you can read more in the previous ), evolutionary biologist, and famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, has said ‘faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness’ (The Selfish Gene, new edition, 1989, p.330 of 352), and ‘Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus, but harder to eradicate. The whole subject of God is a bore”…those who teach religion to small children are guilty of “child abuse”’ (see ); and the founder of sociobiology, E.O. Wilson, has said ‘What’s dragging us down is religious faith…I would say that for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faith’ (see )—it turns out that the scientific explanation of the human condition, now that it has arrived, is in accord with the religious one. Which should come as no surprise really, because as the Nobel prize-winning physicist Charles H. Townes said,
They [science and religion] both represent man’s efforts to understand his universe and must ultimately be dealing with the same substance. As we understand more in each realm, the two must grow together…converge they must. (See )
The scientist can no more deny or devaluate the truths of spiritual experience than the theologian can neglect the truths of science: and the two truths must be reconcilable, and it must be of importance to each of us that they should be reconciled. (See )
How right Townes and Darling were. Now that we have the true, human-condition-confronting scientific explanation of the human condition we can appreciate just how profound religious descriptions of the human condition were, as all four of these ‘Religion deciphered’ essays (F. Essays , , & 41) evidence.
Finally, it should be pointed out that not only ancient thinkers like Moses recognised the true ‘instinct vs intellect’ elements involved in the human condition, but also many contemporary thinkers, whose work you can read about in .
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Watch Jeremy Griffith’s breakthrough redeeming explanation of the human condition in , or read . You can also read more about the relationship between science and religion while the journey to find understanding was underway in , specifically .
Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomed—see below.
These essays were created in 2017-2019 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood, Fiona
Cullen-Ward, Brony FitzGerald & Lee Jones of the Sydney WTM Centre. All filming and
editing of the videos was carried out by Sydney WTM members James Press & Tess Watson
during 2017-2019. Other members of the Sydney WTM Centre are responsible for the
distribution and marketing of the videos/essays, and for providing subscriber support.