The Alternative to Religion
In these very difficult times, we hear religion blamed for many of the ills that plague us. That is an understandable sentiment. Let’s reflect on that.
Since the criticism is of “religion”, we can take that criticism to mean religion “broadly defined”. In its broadest sense, religion provides a sense of meaning and purpose to life. Conversely, can one achieve a sense of purpose in life without some form of “faith”, that is, believing in something that cannot be deduced from observations?
Calls for the abandonment of religion are thus calls for living life without a sense of purpose or meaning. I cannot help but believe that this is a call for us all to return to our “natural state”, when human life consisted of foraging for food, instinctively avoiding danger, and instinctively seeking to procreate. Is that really a goal to aspire to?
Posted on December 14, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
I will be getting your book on Tuesday. I am very interested in reading your expanded thoughts in this direction and having a more specific discussion based on your book.
I believe that human beings are the pinnacle of creation. For example, humans have an advanced cortex with the ability to create and innovate. The whole of being human includes the body, mind, soul, and spirit. I want to use the talents, gifts, and abilities that originate from these attributes of being human. It is troublesome to conceptualize life as this “natural state” (e.g., to return to our “natural state”, when human life consisted of foraging for food, instinctively avoiding danger, and instinctively seeking to procreate). A goal of simplicity is worthwhile, but not at the cost of being less than the gifts we are created to explore and use for a higher purpose.
As you and I discussed a few years ago, science and the cosmos speaks to the beauty and power of a Creator. I am a reflection of my Creator and must create, innovate, explore, love, show kindness, and commune with my Creator. Thoughts?
Thanks for leaving your comment.
Yes. Charles Townes, a Nobel-prize winning physicist who passed away recently (within a year) also believed that the beauty and order of nature suggested a Creator. I went to a ceremony for him at UC Berkeley, and it was interesting to hear the different opinions. He was a big proponent for the coexistence of science and religion, and he won the Templeton Prize as a result.
I like what you say about what your attributes as a human. It is truly remarkable how different we are from everything else!
I am perhaps less clear about the Creator than you are. The nature (characteristics) of this Creator are mysterious to me. I often wonder: what is the true nature of God? Yet, I start from the assumption that God is there for us to discover.
Someone I met at that event in Berkeley is Jewish and did much thinking about science and religion. His web site is here: http://lettherebelightbook.com
My clarity on the attributes of the Creator is based on the Bible. I believe many people do not have a full understanding of the significance of the Bible. It is often conceptualized as a book written to set rules and regulations for living a certain way. Even though Jewish history and the laws of Judaism are detailed in the books canonized as the Old Testament, the New Testament sets the believer free from those regulations based on the atonement made by Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
Why believe the Bible as an authentic and divinely inspired book? Afterall, it is written by men about men, mostly making terrible mistakes. From a scientific perspective, the book is amazing! Stepping back from religion – Judaism and Christianity – the compilation of the Bible is historical, spanning thousands of years in its development by 39 different authors. The continuity in the main theme of the text is amazing! The text continually points to one central theme – the character and love of God. It is a book of prophecy. For example, the prophecies in the books of Zephaniah 2 regarding the land of Palestine and Ezekiel 26 regarding Tyre have been literally fulfilled. In analyzing the probability (using compound probability) of the fulfillment of person, place, or events with these more than 25 details is 1 in 33 million chance occurrence.We see the same degree of specificity in the betrayal, trial, death, and burial of Jesus all fulfilled within 24 hours. These amazing facts of the Bible suggest a divine hand in its authorship. There is no way human collusion over thousands of years by coincidence could account for the level of detail in these texts to be realized in historical fact.
Stepping back into my faith, I read the Bible like a love letter from God to me. I spend each morning seeking His voice – usually reading the Psalms or the New Testament. But, the Old Testament is beautiful and each story conveys some aspect of God, His mercy, His power, His sovereignty. I am transfixed on astronomy simply because when I consider the vast expanse of space and the powerful forces delicately in balance it assures me that my Redeemer lives!
I should receive your book today – I’m enthused to read your thoughts on these topics. I would be very interested in your thoughts on Job 26. If you have not studied the Bible, I would recommend you start with the Gospel of John, but I would love to get your thoughts on Job 26. It seems that even though most cultures at the time Job was written (many believe the authorship to be attributed to Moses, approximately 3,000 years ago) believed that the earth was support by elephants or giants, however the author of Job believed that God “hang the earth upon or over nothing” (Job 26:7, Amplified Bible). Thoughts?
I look forward to reading your thoughts on the topic of evil. My question is where does quantum theory or does it potentially provide a window of understanding into the spiritual world? Watchman Nee, one of my heroes in the faith (who was martyred for being a Christian in China) has very interesting thoughts on this issue. One of his books, “The Latent Power of the Soul” is very insightful. I’ll watch for your next blog. Thank you for providing an interesting forum to discuss important facets of our journey on this planet and preparation for eternity (infinity)!
I failed to thank you for the insight into the transformation related to the Holy Spirit indwelling. I completely agree and believe your book already addresses the quantum theory and spiritual through this transformation process. My question in the previous post relates directly to a link between here and another unseen. Thanks again!
One more thought I wanted to share – I, too believe the Creator is a mystery. At this time, we can never get the full understanding of Him, but isn’t it wonderful we are invited to try 🙂
Here is a link to the Bible online: https://www.bible.com/
Well I finally got to read your interesting comment. In my book, I definitely quote the bible and seek to find scientific connections within it. I cannot claim to have the close relationship you have with the bible (which is great), but I am inspired by it. The connections that I see to science within the bible are in some ways a form of prophecy, as it was written so far in advance of when science even existed.
Job 26 is a great statement regarding the power of God. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I do believe we must be humble before God.
It is ironic to be having this dialog with you now. When I wrote the book, I was thinking of our conversation on the airplane, and when I completed the book, I found you on Facebook as you now know. I actually sent a copy of the book to a work address I thought might be yours. I apologize for “stalking” you in this way, but I meant only to share. However, the book was returned to me with the package unopened. Combined with your lack of response to my message, I thought you were sending a clear message to me: please go away. So I had forgotten all about this. Obviously, I misinterpreted those events and I appreciate your taking to time to reach out to me. Thanks again for ordering the book. I hope you accept its message, which undoubtedly differs somewhat from your faith. Let’s think less of differences and be more positive in common aspects of our mutual faith.
I feel honored that you reflected on our conversation on the plane that day as you wrote the book. I believe our conversation on the plane was a divine appointment. Thank you for taking the time to find me and send the book to me. I am sorry that I did not receive it in 2012 or your fb message for 4 years! I may not have seen the fb message had it not been for my recently added fb messenger app 🙂
I am almost done reading “Embrace the Infinite.” You are an excellent teacher and writer. I see more similarities between Christianity and SciGen than you might expect. I am one of those people who read the last pages while in the middle of a book. When I read your last page, I was encouraged and left with questions. You state: “Do not turn from God, but heed His word and abide by His love. Seek out the Lord. He is waiting for you to find Him.” I am encouraged because this, to me is real and true. I can affirm only through multiple personal experiences with the Lord. Your statement reflects my “I know that I know” reality. How does this mesh with the SciGen? In other words, is “His Word” the SciGen premises and “the Lord” Vahhd?
Thank you for the message. Yes, you could say that “the Lord” is Vahhd, but not everyone would see it that way. Vahhd is meant to be “natural law”. A point I am trying to make is that if we call natural law by another name, we can more clearly see the connection between scientific and religious truths.
The last passage you quote is an appeal to find God once you have renounced “materialism”. Materialism is only believing that for which there is scientific evidence. I try to show in the book that this is a dead end. My thought is that God, or the Lord, is more than just Vahhd.
I don’t see SciGen as “His word”. SciGen is a path towards God. I am not specific about which particular route to the Word I mean. The Bible is certainly quoted in the book extensively, and is clearly part of that. The bible in fact has many interesting references relating God to his Word. I think the bible is where to look for guidance on heeding his Word.
I finished your book today and found it to be encouraging and hopeful. Your thoughts offer scientific support to my faith and beliefs in Christianity. For example, I have considered Matt. 5-6/Luke 6-7 (the Beatitudes or Semon on the Mount) as important patterns for our lives here and forever. I believe only the Master Designer, Christ would know the mystery to eternal life. He described it as immutable, just as you have described. Christ’s principles have reciprocal effects, as well – another discussion. He refers to this pattern as important in the kingdom of heaven. In this sense, I see this pattern of living as eternal. This is just one example of how I related elements of “SciGen” and “Vahhd” to my faith.
I hope that you will continue blogging your thoughts. For being a concise book, it had many points to ponder. Perhaps one that intrigues me currently is the divide between the spiritual and the mental. I agree that the mind is the antenna to hear and receive God’s voice (As a Christian, I listen for that still small voice. I have had experiences beyond explanation that had to be attributed to God.). As a social scientist, I understand that if the brain is broken with disease or injury it can change behaviors, personality. I have asked God for insight into this dilemma in my understanding. The peace I receive from Him is that if He has been invited to live/His Word resides in the body with a broken brain (before the brain was injured/sick), then His Spirit will help that body and spirit. He is in control. Some things we have to accept on faith. It amazes me to see a Christian inflicted with dementia say a prayer effectively, but be unable to fully communicate in any other context.
You present so much in this interesting book! I hope you keep presenting your ideas! You have me thinking in an interesting direction – thank you!
What an amazing post! You have such interesting ideas and you are very perceptive. I am so glad I contacted you about the book.
Thanks for your encouraging words. Yes, I should blog more often. I have some partial thoughts that I will look at. It’s great to know someone like you is reading this!
You raise an important issue regarding spirit and mind. You are not afraid to think about it! Somehow, the person with the broken brain can connect with God. That is interesting. But some sort of transformation has occurred in that person that allows this to happen. Not everyone will have that connection.
A very difficult issue, that is sort of related, is the problem of evil. Perhaps I’ll write something about that soon.