6. ABOUT RELIGION AND THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
WTM FAQ 6.2 What is the meaning of life? / What is the Integrative Meaning of existence? / What is ‘God’? / Does the scientific explanation of ‘God’ really contain all the attributes of religion’s metaphysical ‘God’?
[Note: the first part of this answer is repeated in WTM FAQ 5.3]
There is actually a very obvious direction and purpose to existence, which is the ordering or integration of matter into ever larger and more stable wholes. Over the eons out in the universe, a chaotic cosmos continues to organise itself into stars, planets and galaxies. And here on Earth, as the chart below illustrates, atoms became ordered or integrated to form molecules → which in turn integrated to form compounds → virus-like organisms → single-celled organisms → multicellular organisms → and then societies of multicellular organisms.
So the theme or purpose or meaning of existence is the ordering or integration of matter, a process that is driven by the physical law of Negative Entropy.
These quotes from Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein (respectively) indicate how prevalent this underlying order is: ‘The overwhelming impression is of order…[in] the universe’ (‘The Time of His Life’, Gregory Benford, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Apr. 2002), and that ‘behind everything is an order’ (Einstein Revealed, PBS, 1997).
There is, however, an immense problem admitting this truth of integrative meaning, and that is it unbearably confronts us with our divisive, seemingly disintegrative selfish, competitive and aggressive human condition.
The fact is that for a larger whole to form and hold together (integrate) the parts of that whole must consider the welfare of the whole above their own welfare. Simply stated, selflessness is integrative while selfishness is divisive or disintegrative. But this implies that we selfish and competitive humans have been living in defiance of ‘Integrative Meaning’, living in a way that is out of step with creation!
In fact, Integrative Meaning has been such a terrifyingly condemning truth that we divisively behaved humans couldn’t face it. And so, to avoid facing it, we deified the process of Integrative Meaning as ‘God’, thus making it something separate and superior to us, not connected to us in an earthly, practical way.
So, ‘God’ is the personification of Integrative Meaning, a personification that was necessary while we selfish and competitive humans couldn’t explain why we were seemingly at odds with ‘God’!
IT IS ONLY NOW that we have the redeeming explanation of humans’ divisively behaved human condition (that biologist Jeremy Griffith has found and presented in Video/Freedom Essay 3 and chapter 1 of his book FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition), that we can at last afford to demystify ‘God’ as Integrative Meaning. You can read more about how ‘God’ is our personification of Integrative Meaning in chapter 4:3 of FREEDOM.
Does the scientific explanation of ‘God’ really contain all the attributes of religion’s metaphysical ‘God’? / Won’t Griffith’s demystification of ‘God’ be seen by supporters of religion as blasphemy?
If we humans are 2 million years hurt, damaged and wretched, as in truth we are (see Video/Freedom Essay 10), then the loneliness of our situation has been absolutely astronomical, and so it follows that the comfort we have derived from a metaphysical view of ‘God’ has also been immense. Obviously then, the scientific/‘laws of physics’ demystification of ‘God’ is going to seem very inadequate in terms of embodying all the attributes that we have imbued ‘God’ with. But, in fact, all the attributes we have imbued ‘God’ with—‘His’ lovingness of our fallen state, ‘His’ reassurance that if we are as true to him as we can be all will be okay in the end, ‘His’ kindness towards all forms of suffering, ‘His’ essential ‘goodness’, ‘His’ ‘bigness’ in every sense; namely ‘His’ universality, ‘His’ omnipotence (all-powerfulness), omnipresence (all-presentness) and omniscience (all-knowingness)—are actually now confirmed and reinforced by our ability to understand ‘Him’; but this sudden demystification of ‘God’ may take some time to adjust to. In fact, in fairness to how much we 2-million-years-corrupted humans have needed the support of a metaphysical ‘God’, almost everyone should expect some shock and resistance to have to work through when absorbing the scientific explanation of ‘God’.
This demystification of ‘God’ may well come as a shock, but, as Jeremy explains in paragraph 327 of FREEDOM:
“…the truth is, to use Nobel Prize-winning physicist Charles H. Townes’ words, ‘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’ (‘The Convergence of Science and Religion’, Zygon, 1966, Vol.1, No.3). The physicist Max Planck (another Nobel winner) similarly recognised that ‘There can never be any real opposition between science and religion; for the one is the complement of the other’ (Where Is Science Going?, 1977, p.168). As my headmaster at Geelong Grammar School, Australia’s greatest ever educator, Sir James Darling, said, ‘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’ (The Education of a Civilized Man, ed. Michael Persse, 1962, p.68 of 223). And with understanding of the human condition now found, ‘converge’ they have; ideality (which religions and the truthful, denial-free-thinking, God-confronting-not-avoiding prophets they were founded around represented) and our search for understanding of our non-ideal reality (which science represented—the word ‘science’ literally means ‘knowledge’) have finally been ‘reconciled’. Yes, with the human condition now explained and our divisive, seemingly non-integrative state finally understood, all humans can at last safely admit and recognise that there has only been one God, one all-dominating and all-pervading theme or meaning of existence, which is Integrative Meaning—a truth we recognise when we say ‘God is love’ (Bible, 1 John 4:8, 16).”
Also in the following paragraph 1217 from FREEDOM, Jeremy points out that Christ, for example, looked forward to the time when we can be told ‘plainly about my Father’, “religions aren’t being threatened by the arrival of dignifying understanding of the human condition—they are being fulfilled. The whole purpose of religion was to be the custodian of the ideal state while the search for the liberating understanding of humans’ ‘fallen’ condition was underway. Buddha, for instance, looked forward to the arrival of the amelioration of the human condition when he said that ‘In the future they will every one be Buddhas [meaning in the future everyone will be free of psychosis] / And will reach Perfect Enlightenment / In domains in all directions / Each will have the same title [there will be no more distorting alienation] / Simultaneously on wisdom-thrones / They will prove the Supreme Wisdom’ (Buddha [Siddartha Gautama] 560–480 BC, The Lotus Sutra, ch.9; tr. W.E. Soothill, 1987, p.148 of 275). In the Bible, Moses similarly anticipated a time when we ‘will be like God, knowing’ (Gen. 3:5). In his Lord’s Prayer, Christ instructed us to pray for the time when ‘Your [Godly, integrated, peaceful] kingdom come, your [integrative] will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:10 & Luke 11:2). He also looked forward to the time when ‘another Counsellor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth [the denial-free, truthful, first-principle-based, scientific understanding]…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything [all the denial-free truths] I have said to you’ (John 14:16, 17, 26). He similarly said he looked forward to when, instead of being restricted to ‘speaking figuratively’, we ‘will no longer use this kind of language but will [be able to] tell you plainly about my Father [be able to explain the world of Integrative Meaning in denial-free, human-condition-reconciled, compassionate, understandable, rational, first principle, scientific terms]’ (John 16:25). And again, the same anticipation of our species’ liberation from the human condition is expressed in Revelations in the Bible where it states that ‘Another book [will be]…opened which is the book of life [the human-condition-explaining and humanity-liberating book]…[and] a new heaven and a new earth [will appear] for the first heaven and the first earth [will have]…passed away…[and the dignifying full truth about our condition] will wipe every tear from…[our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain [insecurity, suffering or sickness], for the old order of things has passed away’ (20:12, 21:1, 4). Yes, as Isaiah hoped, there would come a time when humans ‘will beat their swords into ploughshares…Nation[s] will…[not] train for war any more’ (Isa. 2:4). And what did that truth-saying prophet John Lennon ‘imagine’? A time when the human condition is resolved and ‘the world will be as one’, when there will be ‘no heaven [above us and] no hell below us’; when, in essence, there will be a world without the condemning differentiation of good and evil, a world liberated from the insecurity of the human condition and thus the need for religion, where, as Lennon sang, there will be ‘Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too…all the people living life in peace…No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man…all the people sharing all the world’ (Imagine, 1971).”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
You can read much more about Integrative Meaning and ‘God’ in Freedom Essay 23 and chapter 4 of FREEDOM; and more about how understanding of the human condition does not undermine a faith in religion in FAQ 6.3.