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Is Science And Religion Compatible?

Updated on June 8, 2014
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Introduction

(Please refer to the Glossary for bold, italicized terms.)

Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky,…Nothing to kill or die for, No religion too….—John Lennon[i]

Some consider religion the greatest evil civilized society ever invented. Others believe it is necessary to keep people in line, give them hope, and provide them with a benevolent moral compass.

Is religion a good or bad thing for society? Does humanity need it, or can they develop a moral society without it? It is argued religion was and remains responsible for more death and suffering than any war throughout all human history. While nobody is arguing it would be God’s fault those atrocities took place, a fair argument begs it is attributed to organized religion.

Others feel religion is nothing more than a political institution taking advantage of impressionable minds while asking for money from the poor. Some believe the Roman Catholic Church is nothing more than a bureaucratic hierarchy wasting money adorning cathedrals that could otherwise be used to help the poor and needy. (As a side note, Pope Francis I is a breath of fresh air and may integrate many positive changes for the Church.)

Does the historical record not prove religion is bad for society? Can one be spiritual, just not religious? What are the differences between religion and spirituality? These questions and more are covered throughout the article.

[i] Lennon, John. Imagine. Capitol Records, 1971.

Poll #1

Do You Believe In A Monotheistic God?

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See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Absolutism is the idea one’s take on religion, politics, morality, or reality in general is how everyone else should believe. Some scientists, in particular theoretical physicists, will use convenient, less-than-perfect ideas from other scientists that fit their own model. The scientific method applies to their theory, but they will borrow strictly those aspects of research from colleagues that mesh with their specific data and ignore competing theories that do not. (Some will go so far as to fudge the data, but that is rare and does not apply to this argument.) A physicist may reject an infinite or fringe cosmological theory that does not fit with his or her psychological model of how he or she views reality. Since there are many ideas in theoretical physics that conflict, it is easy for this to happen. The scientist has a responsibility to avoid such impartiality, the general public does not. The philosopher or layperson has the right to push such questionable ideas and cling to whichever model fits his or her personal view of reality. Scientists, on the other hand, do not have that luxury.

Religious adherents are others that fall into the absolutism trap. They reject many scientific notions as to the structure of the Universe and only adhere to portions that fit their model of a created universe. If a scientific idea appears to reject God in any way, they dismiss it offhand instead of attempting to incorporate the theory into their belief system.

It could be argued the best approach for everyone is to remain open to and tolerant of all logical viewpoints. If a rational scientific idea does not work for a particular scientist, it should remain open as a possible hypothesis or theory. There may be valid portions to most all classical and quantum hypotheses and theories, like pieces to a puzzle. Not only does this approach avoid making either party look foolish for harboring the wrong conclusion after the correct version is later established to the contrary, it remains the courteous approach.

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, in his book Parallel Worlds, wrote this about scientist’s criticisms of philosophers: “…philosophers may yet get the last laugh. The quantum theory is incomplete and rests on shaky philosophical grounds.”[i]

This publication attempts to avoid absolutism by finding a certain level of validation in the various scientific, religious, and paranormal interpretations. It does so by adopting a philosophical approach and finding a naturally logical conclusion to said phenomenon, using science as a guide. This may be the best approach for any non-scientist since the absolute truth about some of these ideas may not present itself in our lifetime or any other?

[i] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds. New York: Random House Publishing, 2005, p. 157

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Religion

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use”—Galileo Galilei[i]

The ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped not one God, but many. Polytheism, the belief in a plurality of divine beings, pervaded much of pre-biblical thought. Over time, Monotheism, the belief in one God over all, replaced the idea of a multitude of divine beings. Monotheism is the prevailing belief system of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which are the three predominant religions practiced in the United States.

Another principle type of religion, one dominating Eastern belief, is pantheism. Pantheism declares the inner nature of all things is God. God is not thought of as being separate from all things in the Universe, but a part of them. Human beings are in the image of or like God, as monotheism declares, and are a part of or are God, as pantheism states. They are two fundamentally different concepts. Taoism and Buddhism are examples of pantheism.

Which concept of religion is accurate? Perhaps the image we harbor of God is way off base, and none of the previous interpretations are valid. Those on Earth provide a handful of representations regarding the true nature of God. The vastness of the Universe might present a plethora of additional possibilities if there is a multitude of other civilizations out there.

The three major belief or non-belief systems in the world are theism, atheism, and agnosticism. A theist is one who believes in the existence of a divine being or beings. An atheist is one who rejects the belief in any form of divinity, which means it is not a religion at all. Agnostics believe the existence of God is a possibility in which there is no reason to believe one way or the other. They refrain from judgment and adopt neither conviction.

There are two types predominate of atheists: friendly and unfriendly. A friendly atheist believes it is alright for someone to believe in a theistic God. An unfriendly atheist feels no one should believe in any God. Though atheism, by definition, is not a religion, such unfriendly views resemble one, perhaps as an anti-religion. Unfriendly atheists are similar to religious fundamentalists—self-righteous fanatics who claim exclusivity in their beliefs or lack thereof.

Others claim religion and atheism are both meaningless since neither are verifiable. The verifiability principle of meaning, based on a philosophical movement in the 1920s, called logical positivism, assumes a statement is meaningless if it is neither analytically nor empirically verifiable. If one is unable to prove the existence of a divine being through logic, that being must not exist. Positivists argue the existence of God is not logically possible; therefore, He does not exist. Even mentioning God does or does not exist is absurd, because either proposition is equally refutable. For the theist to declare there is a God is as absurd as it is for the atheist to declare there is not. They are all religious assertions, including ones of the undeclared agnostics, therefore invalid.

One could argue a positivist’s views are as equally valid or invalid as those of theists, atheists, or agnostics, but only to the extent they fail to acknowledge the right of one to believe as they see fit. Freedom to choose any or none of them should be the only valid approach to religion or atheism, not which one is right, wrong, or logically consistent. Only when these viewpoints infringe on another’s are they wrong or immoral.

Exclusivity is the biggest sin of religion and one of the greatest evils of mankind, as often portrayed in the Middle East and here in the U.S. Holding one’s religious or non-religious views as exclusive is self-centered, ignorant, and egotistical. Pluralism, or the view other religious and non-religious viewpoints are as valid as one’s own, is the key to understanding humanity and the first step in discerning the true reason for the existence of life and the Universe. All religious and non-religious assertions are equally valid whether true or false. On occasion, one must suspend all personal biases regarding beliefs for or against the existence of God since what matters is we all get along on this tiny, remote planet, called Earth. If not, the reasons for existence become meaningless, in particular if we kill each other off in the quest for the one, true religion or anti-religion.

[i] Rogers, Perry McAdow. Aspects of Western Civilization: Problems and Sources in History. (1615 quote by Galileo Galilei in a letter to Grand Duchess Christina) Saddle RiverNJ: Prentice Hall, 1988, p. 53.

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God

“The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off the piety they absorbed with their mother’s milk”—H.L. Menken[i]

Why do most people believe in God? Bertrand Russell, in his book Why I am Not a Christian (1957), states, “Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason… The next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a big brother who will look after you… [People] accept religion on emotional grounds.” He further adds, “Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear…Fear is the basis of the whole thing—fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand.” Regarding Christianity in particular, Russell writes, “I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”[ii]

According to the monotheistic interpretation, God is omniscient, or all-knowing, omnipotent, or all-powerful, and omnipresent, or self-existent and eternal. There is a notorious paradox with respect to God’s omnipotence: can God create a stone so heavy He is unable to lift? Some argue this is inconsistent with one of His essential attributes, the attribute of omnipotence. According to the philosopher William Rowe, God cannot create a stone heavier than He can lift any more than He can perform an evil deed.

Paul Davies, in About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, paraphrases a quote made by the Athenian poet and philosopher Agathon, which states, “Even God cannot change the past.”[iii] Considering the existence of an omnipresent God is valid, how accurate does this statement appear? Though it is consistent with reality as we understand it, if God as defined by monotheistic religions wanted to, could He not change the past? Would we know if He did since our memories would reflect the new reality that was replaced?

Perhaps society’s portrayal of God has nothing to do with Its true nature. Is a Muslim any closer to the correct depiction of God than a Christian, or a Hindu? Is attempting to discover the right interpretation and eliminating the possibility of any other nothing short of harboring a selfish conviction? If so, is it wrong to assign a personified attribute for God? What about the significance of other interpretations an alien civilization might harbor of God?

Is a scientist who believes in God and follows a particular religion credible? A religious scientist follows a path contrary to his scientific principles. Science is based on the principle of experimental falsification with regard to all of reality. If a concept is not falsifiable, they argue, it is not based on science. A scientist who adheres to a particular religion might formulate an unwitting, biased approach to his initial hypotheses and research findings. Can he be trusted to make rational scientific interpretations when, in the back of his mind, there is the belief in something supernatural? Perhaps this is one reason many scientists refuse to admit their true convictions. Others less fearful of public ridicule will use science to interpret their personal religious beliefs.

Fringe concepts of parallel universes and other dimensions have a future potential of being vindicated or discarded. The concept of a personified deity does not. It is not that a scientist has no right adhering to a personified God; just that such a belief does not mesh with the scientific approach. If a scientist does, he or she contradicts the very principle on which science is based. Using the “faith card” is nothing more than an excuse for this obvious contradiction. Attempting to compare God’s perspective of the seven days outlined in Genesis to billions of years from ours is a desperate attempt at validating the former. While this approach is better than adopting creationism, and everyone has a right to pursue whatever belief or career they wish, the fundamental basis of science and a personified deity are incompatible. A non-personified creator, on the other hand, might be. One exception is if God is an advanced civilization that brought life to this planet or interfered with its development, as this would give personification a whole new meaning.

There is another asterisk in all this apparent criticism. If a natural, non-personified interpretation of God exists, perhaps there is an exception to the rule. Maybe there is room for God in science after all, but It might not resemble any personified rendition any organized religion depicts of Him or Her.

[i] Menken, H.L. Minority Report. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1956, p. 232.

[ii] Russell, Bertrand. Why I am Not a Christian. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957, p. 14.

[iii] Davies, Paul. About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, p. 168.

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The Bible

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” The words are simple but elegant, brief yet all-encompassing. What does this verse of Genesis suggest; that it took a personified God seven terrestrial days to create Earth and, presumably, the entire Universe? Is this translation regarding the origin of the Universe one people should accept at face value?

According to the literal interpretation of the Bible, the entire Universe is just 6,500 years old. A significant number of devout Christians believe this outright, if not to some extent. Should one, instead, consider the human element to religion and possible mistranslations before accepting such ancient mythological ideas? If God does exist with all His Judeo-Christian, male attributes, is this the interpretation of creation He wishes humanity to believe? After all, how do creationists explain the fact we can see stars and galaxies beyond the Crab Nebula, which would be the extent of our visible horizon if the Universe was a mere 6,500 years old? The speed of light is an absolute fact. So, using simple math, how does a creationist explain why we are able to see the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.5 million light years away, let alone the multitude of others?

Is the traditional King James Version of the Bible an accurate rendition of the age and makeup of the Universe? Not only is it full of contradictory verses, but many original Hebrew and Greek passages were translated to English erroneously.

Aside from the multitude of different denominations, there are three predominant groups stereotypical of Christians: Types I, II, and III.

Type I followers, called naïve disciples, follow whatever interpretation their pastors relay to them during any given Sunday morning sermon. They follow the rhetoric of the church they feel most comfortable with or the one in which they were raised. Naïve disciples rely on tradition and need a religious leader to guide them into the next life. They tend to repeat amen and nod their heads to and fro during congregation no matter what the pastor is preaching. In general, these followers are uneducated or elderly, which is why they are so impressionable. Some denominations take advantage of this for nothing more than monetary gain.

Type II followers, or ultraistic disciples, take every verse in the Bible to its literal extent. They believe the entire Universe is 6,500 years old, are sometimes fanatical and defensive, and often belligerent toward others in support of their beliefs. The Type II entourage believes dinosaurs roamed the Earth during the same time-period as humans. Believing otherwise does not fit with traditional intelligent-design arguments. They disregard the scientific method and substitute literal interpretations of scripture to support their position. Sometimes they quote portions of scientific data that back their own beliefs, ignoring others that do not.

Type III followers, called rational disciples, incorporate scientific evidence with biblical gospel and find a way to corroborate the belief in both. They believe the traditional seven days to create the heavens and Earth were nothing more than an analogy for the scientific, 13.8-billion-year interpretation. According to them, Genesis and various other portions of the Bible were written according to God’s relative-time perspective. God is thought to exist outside three-dimensional space and time. The passage of 13.8 billion years within the Universe may be equivalent to almost no passage of time outside it. Biblical parables are analogous examples that sometimes support historical fact. Rational Christians are cognizant of the primitive perspectives of the apostles and those of previous translators of the Bible. They are aware of the possibility of frequent misinterpretations due to Roman Catholic influence. These followers seek specific translations from original Greek and Hebrew texts besides those found in the King James Version. They tend to be less critical of others and their beliefs, focusing more on their own.

Poll #2

Do You Feel It Is Okay To Berate Religion Or Religious Followers?

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The "God" Helmet

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Spirituality

"It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the Universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be."
"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable."
—Sigmund Freud[i]

Spirituality is very different from religion. A person can be spiritual but have no association with religion.

Buddhism is considered a religion, but resembles a form of organized spiritualism. Buddhists do not believe in God or Satan but do believe in a type of Heaven. There are 31 distinct levels, or dimensions, of Heaven and Hell, some physical and others ethereal. All sentient beings experience reincarnation and are reborn as a person, animal, or alien being in another star system. Buddhism is one of the few religions inclusive to all potential life throughout the Universe.

The Dalai Lama is referred to as a teacher, not a prophet or messiah. The ultimate goal of Buddhism, through the process of experiencing various past lives, is nirvana, or enlightenment. It is a state of all-knowing contentment where one is able to eliminate all negative feelings. Each past life is meant to bring one closer to this nirvana.

If individual life is not eternal after death, one could argue it has no meaning at all. Without an eternal, imperishable soul, life might appear fleeting and pointless.

The idea of an eternal spirit helps one cope with old age and the inevitable that ensues. If individual life does continue after death, a person may find comfort knowing her consciousness is not lost forever. The concept of a spirit or soul provides that safety net of hope.

Scientists agree the notion of mind is ambiguous. All they do know is the brain is the physical organ harboring the electrical and chemical reactions for processing information, and that it harbors physical consciousness. The definition of mind is a concept outside the physical parameters of how the brain interprets and processes information. In other words, scientists may determine how the brain works in relation to its physical properties but may never learn why.

Why consciousness works the way it does is a complete mystery. Random memories, decision making, and subconscious processes of how the brain keeps the organs functioning are all enigmas to science. Such mysteries force physicists to look for quantum interpretations. Theories of the mind or soul operating on a quantum level, as outlined in earlier sections, might hold the key to this ultimate dilemma.

It is a natural defense mechanism for one to fabricate an eternal solution to the problem of death. The mystery of the mind and individuality is answered with the simple concept of a spiritual soul. A natural, more realistic, quantum version of it might explain individuality and the individual-displacement paradox, near death experiences, residual conscious impulses, and the sixth sense.

Michael Persinger, a cognitive neuroscientist at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada, believes God exists exclusively in our minds. He works in the field of neurotheology and performed many experiments that suggest God is nothing more than a mental projection in our minds. He believes there is a sense presence measured in the right temporal lobe. The God helmet, as it is referred, houses magnets triggered by electrical impulses. When a magnet triggers this part of the brain, a divine presence is felt. Eighty percent of the students he studies sense a presence, or faceless entity, they relate to as God. To them, the experience is very real. When someone religious is praying or experiencing a significant religious moment, this part of the brain reacts to it and makes it appear as a real experience. Persinger may find electromagnetism, like gravity, could provide us with a link or connection to higher dimensions. If so, the presence one feels while wearing the helmet may seem real for a reason.[ii]

Until science is able to interpret and explain every mystery of the mind, the comforting alternative to death is the idea of an immortal soul. The hypothesis presented in this book at least provides a natural, more logical explanation for its potential existence.

[i] Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1927 (1961), p. 42.

[ii] Hitt, Jack, “This is Your Brain on God.” Wired Magazine. (November 1999).

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Nature

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature”—Frank Lloyd Wright[i]

The long-held, ingrained representation Christians depict of God may call for a modern, more rational one. Any personified rendition may be altogether inaccurate. From a scientific perspective, God would not only be nonhuman, It would be nonliving in a biological sense. Human beings are just one “face” of God. The vengeful, wrathful, fearful, strict fatherly figure portrayed in the Bible is but a limited, human representation of divinity.

Science and nature might provide a more plausible image of God. It is doubtful current religious organizations will relate to this view; however, it is the only method of finding an unbiased, comprehensive, universal interpretation that remains impartial. It might be the only way an agnostic would consider approaching the topic.

Science and logic may provide more dismal, less romantic notions regarding the true nature of God and the Universe, but the personified one portrayed by Christianity and other monotheistic religions may be nothing more than wishful thinking. God may not have a face at all, nor exhibit any personality or spiritual essence, much less a gender. God may be a reflection of all things throughout the known Universe and beyond.

A divine being as a natural part of everything in the Universe might bridge any gaps between the various religions of the world. If there is a scientific basis to some universal presence driving existence, perhaps one generated by all living beings throughout the Universe, we could call It anything we wish. One then could subscribe to whatever religion works best for him or her, including no religion at all. Do people need to be so arrogant and self-righteous when it comes to another’s beliefs? Is there not enough pain and suffering in the world that we should add to it with petty religious squabbles?

[i] Wright, Frank Lloyd, Quote Magazine. August 14, 1966.

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Rationality

“Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof”—Ashley Montagu[i]

Rationality is a standard many strive for to gain acceptance and credibility. To avoid humiliation, people observe their actions with a certain level of scrutiny. Individuals judge others not only based on actions, but words. Conforming to the norm are methods for those seeking acceptance from the rational majority. Popular opinion plays a significant role in what is considered common rationality, which is something that changes with the times.

The majority of the world’s population is religious in one form or another. People find rational comfort in following a particular religion, especially when that religion is among the local majority. A color-coded map marking the various religious populations around the world display obvious patterns of conformity.

Each population following its respective religion will claim it follows the absolute, true way to believe. A Methodist feels he is closer to God than a Baptist and vice versa. Which belief one clings to is attributed to both environment and ancestry. Populations rely on social structure and conformity to survive and flourish. Rational laws that work for a particular group are necessary for the continuity of their society.

The traditional image people harbor of God is an example of a belief system based on incomplete or incorrect information. When one believes in something, she develops personal convictions. Those convictions outline a limited sense of reality based on faith, not observation. Some beliefs are observational though are based on nothing more than interpretation and arbitrary perception. Most are not.

The concept of a personified Supreme Being adheres to a belief system, one absent of either observation or logical deduction. Some argue the belief in God is more rational than the belief in science, though science is based on measurement and observation. Rationality sometimes depends on popular opinion and locality, not reason. What one deems as rational belief is nothing more than arbitrary perceptions from a wide variety of interpretations.

Religion carries with it a multitude of interpretations and denominations. What appears rational to one religious organization might appear ridiculous to another. Such “rational” viewpoints become more arbitrary among individuals within each denomination of the same religion.

Is there any level of rationality found in organized religion in the first place? Would the world have been a better place throughout history without it? Which path should people rationally follow: religious or spiritual belief, the paranormal, stringent scientific law, or deductive, logical reasoning mixed with portions of each?

Scientific ideas change with each passing generation. Occasionally, one is rewritten no matter how long the idea was first supported. New discoveries sometimes force science to reinterpret a theory, though it is a rare occurrence. What might seem like a rational scientific approach to a particular concept for one generation could appear beyond irrational to the next.

Logic guides one to a rational conclusion about a particular concept without closing the gap on other possibilities. Religion and science sometimes do but only to the extent of their rigid, matter-of-fact claims. Science is careful with its convictions, but sometimes individual personalities have a direct impact on some of its anticipated findings.

Most argue science is the only rational method of obtaining logic. Perhaps this is true. But remember some scientific concepts make little rational sense aside from their mathematical logic and observational validity. Some scientific theories will evolve so much in another 1,000 years as to become insignificant or untenable. Perhaps this explains why many scientific ideas are theoretical proposals that do not claim scientific law—a good safety net for scientists.

All things considered, one should keep an open mind to any logical possibility regarding the origin and makeup of the Universe. If not, the slow process of only one useful tool will remain true as the singular method of progress for humanity. Organized religion, on the other hand, can sometimes halt progress.

In the future, all religious beliefs will have to be reorganized and retranslated by scholars of the time to fit that generation’s perception of reality. A universal cosmotheology (not to be confused with Immanuel Kant’s definition) will replace the various global theologies, just as the Sun replaced the idea of Earth as the center of the Universe. If humankind discovers many other intelligent life forms inhabit the cosmos, a universal religion will work its way into the picture.

Exclusivity of any sort has no place in a populated Universe. An advanced extraterrestrial is not going to waste its time listening to a less intelligent being who might declare, “Christ is the only true way.” They would argue Jesus did not die on their planet for their sake. In the future, only a universal religion, one that accepts all beliefs of all potential worlds, will appear rational. The transformation will be slow, but inevitable, as more people drop out of church and follow a belief system tolerant of other viewpoints and ways of life. If science establishes the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life as fact, would it not be more reasonable to accept either a universal religion or no religion at all? What basis would exclusive religions have in a largely populated Universe?

People tend to believe in things they want to be true. A skeptic might say he would never believe in Bigfoot unless it bit him on the rear. That same individual, in the same breath, would tell you they not only believe in God but know He exists. All things considered, is that not a hypocritical approach to belief and rationality?

[i] Montagu, Ashley. British Anthropologist. 1905-1999 (1984).

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Simplicity

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses”—Sigmund Freud[i]

Is the notion of God nothing more than a simple explanation for a much more complex answer to the meaning and nature of existence? Is the idea of a personified God becoming more and more outdated? Perhaps the concept of God is nothing more than a comforting notion in this vast, lonely Universe. Maybe God is too often used a punch line for individuals who are uneducated or unable to conceptualize divine concepts for themselves.

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have searched for the answer to life’s most provocative questions. What is the meaning of life? Where do I come from? Why am I here? What happens to my consciousness after I die? The questions are simple, but finding the right answers can be daunting. Do such answers exist, or are they inquiries never to be ascertained?

For many, religion provides simple, yet comforting interpretations to otherwise complex meaning-of-life questions. All a Christian must do is be a good person, follow a few rules, and death becomes a little easier with which to cope. Complex questions then become easier to answer. Life has instant purpose and meaning. Organized religion gives people something hopeful to look forward to as they approach the inevitable.

Consider the following brief thought experiment. Imagine flying in a passenger plane on your way to some exotic destination with your wife and two children. You never believed in God and have been atheist your entire life. Logic and reason have always been your “guiding light.”

In this horrific scenario, something happens to the plane and it begins to spit and sputter. After a short while, you realize it is heading straight for the ocean and there is no way the plane will pull out of it. This is it. In two minutes, life will be over. The plane will be ripped to shreds, and you and your entire family will drown in the cold, murky waters. There is no hope and nothing more to look forward to. You will never see them, and they will never see you again…ever.

For anyone, this scenario is an unimaginable nightmare, in particular if there is no hope of an afterlife. Scenarios like this are why many believe in some form of deity or afterlife. The subconscious mind has considered similar gruesome scenarios and, in turn, devised comforting religious alternatives to cope with such a dreadful possibility. For many, the primary solution to such horrors is religion.

People who lost family members in death hope for an eventual reunion in Heaven or in another life. Such reasoning is a defense mechanism for the mind and helps one cope with a potential loss.

Religious mythology flourishes in all cultures as a way to make the complex become simple. It is a comforting notion in an insecure world where death is the ultimate fate of everything. One might ask, what is the purpose of life if it does not continue indefinitely? Others are too afraid to believe otherwise. The mind cringes at the notion of it coming to an end, of ultimate death and nonexistence. In return, it develops coping defense mechanisms.

Religion provides people the comfort of life after death. Knowing loved ones will be “in a better place” is an encouraging method of dealing with their eventual fate. People will blind themselves to the promises of an afterlife put forth by a particular religion in return for blissful peace of mind. Many refuse to accept any alternative. But is that method of reasoning nothing short of delusional self-reassurance since the gift of immortality is not granted to anyone until an alleged Day of Judgment?

The simple interpretation of life and permanent death is unacceptable for most. In return, people develop a natural defense mechanism and choose to believe in God, at the very least some type of Higher Power or afterlife. If we advance to a point where death is largely avoided, perhaps religion will appear moot or unnecessary.

Simplicity is unattainable via logic and reason. There is no easy way to believe or not believe in something. Should someone believe what he wishes or follow logical intuition and search for answers more rational? In the end, the choice is an individual one and, at this point, there is no absolute right or wrong answer.

[i] Freud, Sigmund. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1965, p. 216.

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Morality

“Politics and religion are obsolete; the time has come for science and spirituality”—Jawaharlal Nehru[i]

Humanity has a moral obligation to itself, one everyone should recognize. Though we live in an age of technological wonder, different cultures and ethnicities continue inflicting primitive hostilities toward one another. Nations still bicker and fight over land and religion. What is the point? Is a belief in something worth ending a human life? Is the sacrifice of a human being worth a higher throne in Heaven with God? Do terrorists think Allah would approve as they set off a bomb in His name? Would Jesus feel it was okay for His followers to be so discriminatory and judgmental? Does the color of skin, nationality, religious adherence, sexual preference, or species honestly make a difference? The ultimate lesson for humanity is to learn the answer to all these questions is an emphatic no. To preserve and respect all life may be the most important, true meaning of life.

Is the United States, as a whole, a moral society? Is it obligated to assume the role of the world’s “police officers,” some actions serving the interests of a particular nation and others serving their own? Do they protect the betterment of some third-world countries? How might future generations view their current actions or involvements? Do the morals of democracy supersede other sovereign nations, and are we obligated to intervene when others are being mistreated? Is socialism an “evil” of society, or are we programmed to believe it is as some of us collect our Medicare or Social Security check?

What would happen if society discovers, beyond any reasonable doubt, it is not alone in the Universe? Would current differences amongst each other then appear insignificant? What if the aliens appear hostile and their intentions were to arrive here and inflict harm on the world’s population? Would the planet pull together to try to defeat this new menace?

Forget the alien-doomsday scenario for a moment, and consider how the world might react if the impact of a large asteroid were imminent. Some fanatics might embrace this coming doom as a sign from God, but most would pull together to save as many lives as possible? The entire world would hold its breath…together.

The entire planet exists in a mutual togetherness. It can be argued so do all potential beings throughout the Universe. The Gaia hypothesis aside, all living creatures on Earth depend on one another and live in a mutual ecosystem. The Universe is a type of ecosystem as well, but one on a much larger stage.

Humanity must accept their differences, embrace them, and live together in peace. If not, extinction may come at the hands of each other rather than some outside force. Weapons of the future will be significantly more formidable than they are now. Organized religion tends to highlight and amplify our differences. Spirituality, on the other hand, tends to embrace them. In the future, which will we choose to embrace? Which path has the best chance of making the world a better place? Perhaps a kind of “natural spirituality” that incorporates scientific principles is the key to unlocking a universal cosmotheology that works for all beings on all potential worlds.

[i] Clarke, Arthur C. Voices From the Sky (quoting Sri Jawaharlal Nehru). SalemMA: Pyramid Books, 1967, p. 154.

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The Origin Of Organisms

“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”—Charles Darwin[i]

If a divine being does exist, It created humanity with at least five senses to learn about the Universe and then provided us with the science to understand it. Since science concludes evolution is valid, that model should remain a credible religious view on how life originated and flourished. Since God is thought of as a rational Being, why would He create a reality composed of inconsistencies? Religious scientists insist He is not the author of confusion. The alternative is a personified God created everything in the Universe in seven twenty-four-hour periods. If there is a God, the physical evidence He provides suggests otherwise.

There are a few passages from Dinosaurs and the Bible, a 1993 pamphlet written by Ken Ham, B. App. Sc., Dip., Ed, which makes some wonder if intelligent life exists on this planet. Ham’s organization, Answers in Genesis, is based out of Petersburg, Kentucky. The overall message of the booklet argues the Universe is only 6,500 years old, and dinosaurs roamed the planet during the same time-period as humans. On page four, Ham writes, “According to evolutionists, the dinosaurs ‘ruled the Earth’ for 140 million years, dying out about 65 million years ago. However, scientists do not dig up anything labeled with those ages. They only uncover dead dinosaurs…and their bones do not have labels attached telling how old they are…. There is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die.”[ii]

I suppose God intended for people to throw out their “God-given” ability to make sense of the world. Of course labels and dates are not attached to dinosaur bones. Paleontologists do not practice preschool science. The scientific method works to produce such labels since it is the only possible method of verifying the evidence either way.

On page six, Ham writes, “As you add up all of the dates, and accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth almost 2000 years ago, we come to the conclusion that the creation of the Earth and animals (including the dinosaurs) occurred only thousands of years ago (perhaps only six thousand years!) not millions of years. Thus, if the Bible is right (and it is!) dinosaurs must have lived within the past thousands of years.”

According to Ham, society should discard everything it knows about the scientific method, and anything not explained in the Bible should be ignored. Conveniently, though, he borrows specific scientific findings to quote in his publications, but only those portions supporting his personal views. Perhaps all forensic investigators should quit their day job and any evidence found on a victim’s body disregarded and thrown out. After all, dead bodies do not have labels attached informing them of the killer.

On page eight, Ham writes, “Evolutionists declare that no man ever lived alongside dinosaurs. The Bible, however, makes it plain that dinosaurs and people must have lived together.”

Another quote reads, “You see, no matter what is found, or how embarrassing it is to evolutionists’ ideas, they will always be able to concoct an “answer” because evolution is a belief. It is not science—it is not fact.” Using that logic, what should we make of the belief in God?

Evolution is the best available explanation scientists or anyone else has for the emergence and propagation of life. No other valid theory exists to explain how else we got here.

No matter one’s beliefs, life did not pop up in a mere seven days. Even if God could do that, the evidence suggests He did not. Life is a continuous progression of hits and misses by way of evolution and natural selection. Finding the so-called missing link in support of this fact is not a necessary piece of scientific evidence to substantiate the theory. Evidence of it is all around us.

On a smaller timescale, written history proves natural selection does occur. For example, the average lifespan of a human being has increased over just the past thousand years. Average human height also increased. The evolution of knowledge and intelligence is another example.

Different races now copulate more than ever, and race is becoming less apparent. In the future, there will be no distinct race left on the planet. This is another form of natural selection and certainly a positive one.

[i] Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man.New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871, p. 797.

[ii] Ham, Ken. Dinosaurs and the Bible. Cape CoralFL: Master Press Books, 1993, p. 4.

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Creationism

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”—Galileo Galilei[i]

Alfred Wallace, co-formulator with Darwin of the original natural selection hypothesis, believed evolution was God’s natural process of creation. According to him, people may accept the two without contradiction. What prevents the majority of religious adherents from accepting a natural, more scientific interpretation of the progression of life? Some call it ignorance, fundamentalism, ethnocentrism, or literalism and others an inherent argumentative nature?

Arthur C. Clarke is quite frank when he writes, “…yet until only a dozen generations ago much of Europe believed that the world was created around 4,000 b.c. (I’m sorry to say that, owing to their misreading of the Bible, thousands of foolish people still believe such nonsense).”[ii]

In A Natural Theology, Charles Hartshore bridges the gap between biblical creationism and scientific evolution. His label for this belief is panentheism, not to be confused with pantheism.[iii] Panentheism means God in all. Hartshore feels God resides in all living things, and through evolution based on science does God work. According to this idea, evolution is one of God’s natural tools of progression.

In Genesis and the Big Bang, Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D. endorses another religious interpretation of the Bible based on scientific principles. In it, he points out both views regarding the origin of the Universe are correct. His argument outlines a human’s versus God’s perception of the passage of time. From a human’s perspective, the Universe took thirteen-plus billion years until the appearance of man and from God’s, six twenty-four-hour periods.[iv] One passage Schroeder uses as an argument for his premise is from Psalms 90:4, which indicates, “A thousand years in Your eyes are as a day that passes.” According to him, both interpretations of Genesis and evolution are valid, without contradiction. Schroeder does not personally subscribe to human evolution, but that may result from the stigma it carries among his religious peers. Perhaps as the evidence continues to mount in support of evolution, he will be forced to reevaluate his personal conclusions.

Einstein’s theory of relativity and time dilation both support Schroeder’s view. A billion years for one universe could coincide with only a day in this one provided there is any relevant time correlation between the two. How close one is to a gravitating body, such as a black hole, will produce a different passage of the time experience than for another floating motionless in the vacuum of space. How fast one travels relative to the speed of light, as opposed to another standing motionless on Earth, will create differing reference frames for the passage of time.

Creationism paints a simple, yet eloquent, picture of the origin of life and the Universe, evolution does not. From a theistic point of view, all answers to the origin of everything point to God. He is considered the Alpha and Omega. All things begin and end with Him, so no other explanation is required.

Creationism endorses the assumption that evolution is a farce since God made all creatures that ever lived without error. There was never a need for the mutation or crossbreeding of one species to another, because God made them perfect. Any creature unable to survive the flood or make it aboard Noah’s Ark died. (As a side note, the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh is proven by historians as the original Flood Myth and was later incorporated into the Hebrew Bible.) According to creationism, the entire Universe has been in existence for only 6,500 years. This number is based on the genealogy and somewhat historical record of the Bible all the way back to the first chapter of Genesis.

What is scientific creationism, which so many Christians adhere to as their deductive argument against evolution? The words scientific and creationism are a contradiction of terms, an oxymoron. Creationism is a belief system, not a systematic deduction of evidence after acquiring the necessary data like science. Evolution is a theory, but creationism is nothing more than a shaky hypothesis, at best. No biologist doubts evolution as an imperfect fact but debate on how it specifically occurred. To say something is just a theory as a punch line displays nothing more than ignorance to how science works.

Nobody argues against the Christian interpretation of creationism any better than Professor of Geology at HarvardUniversity, Stephen Jay Gould. In the May 1981 issue of Discover Magazine, he wrote an article called, “Evolution as Fact and Theory.” In one passage, Gould indicates, “Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent’…scientific creationism is a self-contradictory, nonsense phrase precisely because it cannot be falsified.”[v]

One could interpret evolution as God’s gradual self-realization. Humans create when they give birth to their children, design artificial intelligence, develop new species by way of genetic engineering, and invent neural networks. Some of these processes are also a form of self-realization, at least from a human’s point of view.

Creationism is not the slightest bit compatible with scientific observation. English physicist Christopher J. Isham writes, “There is a regrettable, but recurrent, tendency for the results of science to be misstated and misused in the propagation of world views that are not in themselves scientific.”[vi]

Since a great number of religious organizations criticize many scientific principles, it is only fair they refrain from incorporating specific aspects of scientific data that fit with their own models while ignoring others. (Some may accuse this book of evoking a similar methodology, but it attempts to find some common ground between science and religion, outside looking in. The arguments throughout point to the exclusive claims both extremes endorse to discover some common threads.) A good alternative both groups should embrace is a mutual happy medium less critical of either viewpoint. Religious adherents should let scientists do their job and develop valid theories. Scientists and atheists should let Christians incorporate those unaltered theories into their belief system. Though religious fanatics might be critical of their findings, quote scripture based on misinterpreted passages, or refuse to exhibit a similar form of restraint; scientists can take the high road and know they are the ones doing the serious research.

[i] Galilei, Galileo. Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher. 1564-1642.

[ii] Bova, Ben, Preiss, Byron. First Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. (Clarke, Arthur C. article “Where Are They?”) New York: NAL Books, 1990, p. 305.

[iii] Hartshore, Charles. A Natural Theology for Our Time. Chicago: Open Court, 1967, pp. 126, 135.

[iv] Schroeder, Gerald L. Genesis and the Big Bang. New York: Bantam, 1990, pp. 11, 12, 29, 34, 48, 49, 53.

[v] Gould, Stephen J., “Evolution as Fact and Theory.” Discover. (May 1981): pp. 34-37.

[vi] Spohn, Wolfgang. Erkenntnis Oriented: A Centennial Volume for Rudolph Carnap and Hans Reichenbach. (quoting Christopher J. Isham) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991, p. 252.

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Evolution And Natural Selection


(Click on the above Diagram for a visual.)

“Children, behold the Chimpanzee;
He sits on the ancestral tree
From which we sprang in ages gone.
I'm glad we sprang: had we held on,
We might, for aught that I can say,
Be horrid Chimpanzees to-day.”

—Oliver Herford[i]

Evolution is a taboo word among religious organizations, but its basic meaning is often misunderstood. According to Webster, evolution is, “That theory which sees in the history of all things a gradual advance from a rudimentary condition to one more complex and of higher character.”[ii] The American Heritage Science Dictionary indicates evolution is, “A process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations. [Natural selection] is the process in nature by which, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.”[iii]

Charles Darwin published Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859 to show different species were not created separately since natural selection was the vehicle for changes in organisms.[iv] Evolution, originally the transmutation of

species, and natural selection, the vehicle for evolution, were not confirmed theories until the early 1940s, long after Darwin’s death. At first, the general population accepted transmutation as fact, but natural selection, the inheritance of favorable genetic variation, was not embraced.

Over the years, several Popes have given their blessing to the theory of evolution, at least admitted it was viable. In March 2009, the PontificalUniversity in Rome confirmed a lack of conflict between the theory of evolution and Catholicism. They gave scientists their blessing when it comes to matters of geology and age of the Universe.[v]

Scientific evidence suggests evolutionary change is sometimes gradual, other times punctual. Adaptation, better known as survival of the fittest, is the gradual change of a species to better suit its environment. Speciation, or the creation of a new species, is a radical evolutionary change and occurs when one population of a species is forced to breed with another.

According to Stephen Jay Gould, scientists are confident evolution occurs based on three general arguments. First is direct observational evidence from the fossil record and the advent of artificial selection, a more direct and speedy form of the natural selection of certain species in the laboratory. Second is the argument of the imperfection of nature, or principle of imperfection, which begs, “Why would a perfect God create a species, such as the dinosaur, only to destroy it later?” Third is evidence of gradual transitions from one species to another, likewise found in the fossil record.

Evidence of the third argument is found in the progression from one hominid species to another, including from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon and, for the moment, settling upon Homo sapiens. There are missing links, but evidence of the gradual changes from one species to the next remains. Is God testing one’s faith by mimicking evolution, or is it the nature of things undeterred by religious fundamentalists cringing at the idea of us coming from “monkeys?”

How do scientists date events that transpired before written history? A portion of radioactive substance known as carbon-14 decays every 5,730 years. This is a scientific fact. Scientists can date anything with carbon using this method. All living things or things that once lived contain carbon.

Measurements of Uranium-238 are another method of ancient dating. It has a half-life of more than four billion years, which allows scientists to determine the age of some of the first rocks, including those from the Moon.

Neanderthals roamed the Earth for nearly 200,000 years. They were a separate hominid species, different from Homo sapiens but possessing similar characteristics. Some differences include a robust skull housing a larger brain, a pronounced arched brow ridge, and short but massive limbs. They walked stooped over, lumbering around as would an ape. If they are a different species altogether, why is there no mention of them in the Bible? Why do Neanderthals look nothing like apes or chimpanzees yet resemble Homo sapiens in so many ways?

Homo sapiens arose in Africa some 200,000 years ago, thereafter replacing all other hominids around the world. They migrated to Europe 40,000 years ago. Neanderthals were occupying Europe at this time, within 10,000 years of the migration of Homo sapiens. Then they disappeared en masse. Over the past four million years, multiple species of hominid shared Earth’s environment rather peacefully, that is until a more dangerous one began to spread. That species was none other than Homo sapiens.

Biological organisms are not the only entities that evolve. Everything evolves over time. Methods of transportation and communication are other examples of observable change. The automobile endured different stages of evolution after the Model T was manufactured by Henry Ford in 1908. The significant period of evolutionary transmutation occurred for transportation after it replaced the horse and buggy. Perhaps the next transmutation will be the invention of the automated or flying car.

Further back in time are other variant stages in the evolution of transportation, feet among the first. The chariot, horseback, the horse and buggy, and other variations followed. In addition, there are different branches in the evolution of transportation. The airplane, motorcycle, and space shuttle are all variant species of the transportation genus.

The telephone has evolved a great deal since Alexander Graham Bell introduced the first working model in 1876. His breakthrough invention came at a point in history when communication methods underwent a momentous period of change. Cordless and cellular phones later became additional stages in the evolutionary process of communication. In the immediate future, all phones will be mobile, and land lines will become a thing of the past.

Since the invention of the telephone, there was another great leap in the evolution of communication. The invention of the internet, which surfaced for public use in the early 1990s, was a dramatic change in the way the world communicates.

What other forms of communication might the future have in store? One can speculate, but telepathic thought transference by way of a wireless device or implanted chip would be the next logical step.

Science has witnessed significant changes in the evolution of thought. Nicholi Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilee, Renee Descartes, Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Stephen Hawking, and Michio Kaku each have contributed great changes in the way we approach the nature of existence. The transition from philosopher to scientist, alone, required a significant leap in how we investigated the world around us.

Biological organisms evolve whether fundamentalists like it or not. Given enough time and suitable circumstances, living organisms will change. Evolution will not settle upon Homo sapiens. We will continue to evolve. For better or worse, artificial intelligence will be a part of that evolutionary process, perhaps a means to an end. This transition will become the new “nature of things,” and its inception will commence within our lifetime. Some argue it already has.

[i] Wells, Carolyn. A Nonsense Anthology (quoting Poet Oliver Herford’s “The Chimpanzee”). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919, p. 199.

[ii] New Webster’s Expanded Dictionary, 2005. “Evolution,” p. 95.

[iii] The American Heritage Science Dictionary, 2005. “Adaptation,” p. 9.

[iv] Darwin, Charles. Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1866, pp. 90-156.

[v] Auletta, G.; Leclerc, M.; Martinez, R.A. Biological Facts and Theories: A Critical Appaisal 150 Years After ‘The Origin of Species.’” Rome: Gregorian and Biblical Press, 2011, pp. 7-13.

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Divine Beginning?

“The temptation to believe that the Universe is the product of some sort of design, a manifestation of subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgement, is overwhelming. The belief that there is ‘something behind it all’ is one that I personally share with, I suspect, a majority of physicists.”—Paul Davies[i]

Does the anthropic principle answer the question of whether a divine being finely tuned the Universe for human existence? Does it prove there must have been a Cosmic Designer? Could the Universe be nothing more than the by-product of an alien experiment conducted from a parent universe? If so, from where did those aliens originate? At the same time, some argue the existence of a Grand Designer makes no sense, because from where did It originate?

The participatory anthropic principle declares the Universe is habitable because life forms are necessary to make it real. (This is at the heart of biocentrism, which is addressed later in the chapter.) It deduces the existence of God is not enough to make it real since observers within are the necessary component to make it so. Perhaps such reasoning is egocentric. In general, the anthropic principle is tainted with anthropomorphism and laden with classical design arguments. The Universe should not rely on biological existence to perpetuate since there was a point in time during its early evolution when no life was around to observe any of it. Nature allows for its existence inherently, with or without an external divine being or intelligent creatures within observing it.

Ideas of a multiverse remove the necessity for divine consciousness since the laws of probability dictate at least one will appear to allow for the existence of biological beings. But why did the primordial universe need to come from nonexistence into existence in the first place if there was not some form of cosmic providence? There may be no practical answer yet giving up on what drives existence or providing it with an anthropomorphic, divine interpretation is not the intent of this publication. A reason must exist for intelligent life to be one of the final products of universal development, even if giving it reason is nothing more than a human concept. A spin on this argument contends long-lasting mechanical intelligence is the ultimate goal of universal reflection, not biological.

If other universes which permit trial and error until at least one is suitable for life do not exist, the anthropic principle again becomes a valid argument, suggesting there could be a Grand Designer behind existence after all. An alternative, less-personified, anthropic explanation for a natural depiction of divinity is AQUA, as it permits a non-relative reference frame of eternal hypertime and ethereal existence that evolves into biological consciousness within each universe, but does not require belief in a personified deity as a means to an end. While the multiverse is more romantic and allows for infinite trial and error, AQUA makes existence possible in just one Universe and replaces the idea of a personified deity with a more natural one. In addition, it does not eliminate the possibility of a multiverse since both ideas are logically consistent.

If God does exist, It might lack any kind of recognizable personality or motive, at least from a biological perspective. (It will replace Him to avoid arguments of sexism or personification.) Without altogether denouncing the existence of God as interpreted by monotheistic religions, a valid argument might exist in contrast to the current perception most people have of It. After all, there are many different representations of God found all over the world, each claiming exclusive, accurate portrayal. It is universal, allowing for a divinity representative of all potential beings on all possible worlds. If nature is the only conceivable God, creating Herself in Her image, It could be viewed as harboring female attributes. A “sex-less” and “being-less” representation of divinity defined as AQUA is the best alternative for divine and non-divine references, respectively.

Physicist and Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner argues quantum theory suggests a universal cosmic consciousness exists throughout the Universe, which resembles the Living Universe interpretation.[ii] Scientists present many variables for and against this concept, but the bottom line is the idea might provide the singular scientific explanation for individual consciousness and a naturally occurring soul. It might be the key to helping them understand how the mind operates at the quantum level and suggests any and all beings throughout the Universe are connected. If that is the case, we all would be a part of any notion of cosmic providence. We would not just be in the image of God, but would be God.

[i] Polkinghome, John. “The Christian Perspective of a Scientist.” New Scientist. (June 2, 1983): Vol. 98, no. 1354, pp. 638-639.

[ii] Wigner, Eugene. Symmetries and Reflections. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1970, p.

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Need For Existence

Vera Kistiakowsky, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues, “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.”[i] Is such an approach not fundamentally anthropomorphic? Given the number of pairs of shoes in a shoe store, sooner or later one will fit just right. If there are an infinite number of possible universes, eventually one, if not many, will appear that is just right to sustain life.

AQUA is an appropriate interpretation for the combination of biological and non-biological universal consciousness. (Remember, it is a generic term for a natural phenomenon, not something ethereal.) All-encompassing Quasi-Universal Awareness works for both living and nonliving entities throughout the multiverse since it is an alleged form of consciousness not wholly reserved for biological beings. Is it plausible to think of the Universe as harboring any kind of underlying awareness? Would there need to be a central “brain” for a universe to be alive? Is that the same as admitting a divine being, or some celestial presence overseeing the Universe, is real?

If there is a logical or natural reason for the meaning of existence, it must be by the quasi-conscious will of the Grand Universe. The remaining alternative is the illogical and anthropomorphic idea the Universe exists via the will of a personified deity. If there is no reason for existence, then we are all just here and, since our existence is no more special than any other, life must be a natural process of universal development. Either way, the answers exist somewhere and we should continue the search.

[i] Margenau, H; R.A. Varghese. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1992, p. 52.

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Glossary

(*Terms devised and/or interpreted by the author)

*All-encompassing Quasi-Universal Awareness (AQUA) A unique interpretation of James Carter’s Living Universe theory, the idea that the Universe, itself, is a living organism. AQUA would be the “mind” of the Universe, though it might not be a separate entity and may, instead, reside in the minds of all living beings throughout. It is the quasi-conscious self-reflection of the Universe, as a part of it, which wishes to know itself. See also cosmic consciousness.

Anthropic Principle, Participatory Physicist John Wheeler’s idea that the early multiverse was a type of massive quantum computer looking for every possible scenario of space and time until one had the ability to harbor sentient beings, at which time it collapsed into that reality. The Universe is habitable because observers are necessary to make it real. Many ideas in this book rely on this interpretation…but with a twist.

Anthropic Principle, Strong The Universe exists the way it does and is organized in a manner that accommodates the ability to harbor intelligent life. Many refer to this drive as the Mind of God or an Intelligent Designer and point to the principle in support of this position. In other words, the Universe is able to harbor life because it was created that way.

Anthropic Principle, Weak Life in the Universe exists because the parameters for existence happen to be just right for it to perpetuate. This version does not require an Intelligent Designer but may be used as an interpretation. In other words, we are here because the parameters of the Universe happen to be just right for life.

Anthropomorphism Assigning human attributes to inanimate objects, animals, or God. The idea of personifying God so that one can relate. Some argue it is misleading to anthropomorphize God since we cannot know what Its attributes in fact are.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Not all robots are considered AI. First, there must be a level of actual reasoning and intelligence before robots are considered as such. As of yet, we do not have the technology to create AI, but engineers are making great strides in the field. Some predict we should have a working AI model before the end of the century. AI does not have to be a walking, talking robot but could be in the form of software.

Atheist, Friendly An atheist tolerable of religions and religious viewpoints. A friendly atheist might feel it is ludicrous to believe in God but keeps any hostile viewpoints to himself.

Atheist, Unfriendly An atheist that feels nobody should believe in God and, at times, can be hostile toward someone that does.

Biocentrism Idea that the Universe is real strictly because there are conscious beings within to observe that reality. In essence, the Universe cannot exist without conscious entities. Existence is subject to the conscious experience, not just a part of it. After all, what significance is there to a universe that includes no method of verification? Some argue that stance is anthropocentric since any given universe should be able to exist and evolve independent of any observation. For billions of years following the big bang, there was no life anywhere to reflect upon its evolution. But here we are. Just because we are unable to see said universe does not mean it is not there, alive or not. Which form would be dependent on its existence, itself or individual living beings that may or may not arise within it? It is an interesting theory but may have irrevocable flaws.

Cosmic Consciousness Idea of an underlying “consciousness” in the Universe causing wave functions to collapse in areas unobservable to conscious beings, in particular those that occurred in the early-forming Universe. Some call it God, but it is a less personified, more natural interpretation of cosmic providence. It may be interpreted as the collective, shared consciousness of all living beings throughout the entire Universe. See also All-encompassing Quasi-Universal Awareness.

Cosmic Providence Means all events in the Universe are a result of the direct will of God. Events transpire the way they do because that is how God intends for them to.

Cosmotheology Not to be confused with Immanuel Kant’s classical interpretation. In this rendition, cosmotheology is a universal religion, one agreeable to all potential beings throughout the entire Universe. It is a religion that does not personify its creator and is tolerant of all viewpoints. A concept that will evolve based on quantum science and nature. Any and all ethereal aspects of religion will dissipate after science discovers the “Mind of God,” in the end revealing It is the Universe, in and of Itself, and we are all a part of It.

Creationism Biblical account of Universal origin in which it was created by God. Idea of origin in direct contrast to the theory of evolution. Adherents to creationism believe God created the Universe in a mere 6,500 years based on literal interpretations of the Bible. All celestial objects in the Universe and all beings on Earth were created perfectly, and evolution had no part to play.

Gaia hypothesis The idea that Earth is a living organism and we are all a part of it.

*Individual-Displacement Signature (IDS, aka “The Soul”) Determines the unique, individual conscious signature found in all living things. It is a quantum phenomenon that defines and differentiates between the energy forces separating one being from another. Geography, ancestry, environment, and other elements from the idea of individual displacement are determinable factors. It is the interpretation of an eternal soul, but with a scientific explanation as a quantum function. Each signature, like a subatomic radio wave, is unique to the individual being. IDS is localized and receptive to the unique DNA structure of a particular brain while said individual is alive. After the person dies, it again becomes part of the Universe. If the person’s unique mind-map is saved and later revived, it should become receptive to the same conscious signature, and that person could live again. (If memories and individuality do not remain intact with the signature, cryonics may be a pointless endeavor.) A Type IV civilization may have the technology to harness this quantum-energy signature in a virtual reality universe, which might explain reincarnation and past lives if one considers the many-worlds interpretation.

Monotheism Examples are Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The belief in a single, all-powerful, all-knowing God. A religion of one God.

*Naïve Disciples A naïve disciple is someone that adheres to a particular religion, such as Christianity, on the basis of raw belief. These adherents tend to nod incessantly, repeating amen during any given Sunday morning sermon no matter what the pastor is preaching. They tend to be elderly or uneducated and need biblical answers provided for them. Literal interpretations of the Bible are the sole acceptable viewpoints, oftentimes taken out of context. They are critical of other religions, including other denominations within their own.

Neurotheology A scientific field of study that argues the religious or spiritual experience occurs in the mind, alone. Dr. Michael Persinger is the pioneer in this field and performed many experiments on the temporal lobe to support the theory. His research indicates a religious feeling or experience is not caused by a divine being but is something that originates in the mind.

Nirvana In Buddhism, it is the perfect state of contentment and enlightenment. It takes many lifetimes, an “old soul,” to attain nirvana. A transcendent state of no desire, evil, suffering, or sense of individual self.

Panentheism Different from pantheism, which purports everything in the Universe is a part of God. In panentheism, a divine being created everything in the Universe and is the eternal force behind it rather than just a part of it. Most interpretations argue God is a presence greater than or outside the Universe, others that the Universe exists within God.

Pantheism Declares everything in the Universe is a part of God. God has no personified attributes or separate existence but is a part of all. Buddhism is an example of a religion based on pantheism.

Pluralism Means there are a plethora of interpretations to explain reality in general, each contributing something valid to the big picture. All religious and non-religious convictions are tolerated in a pluralistic society. This book is based on the idea of pluralism and produces natural interpretations that provide validity for most all beliefs. Pluralism, as this publication endorses it, focuses on common threads and themes in religion, science, metaphysics, and spirituality.

Polytheism The belief in multiple gods. It denounces the idea of a single, all-powerful, monotheistic deity. Examples of polytheistic religions include Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Greek and Roman mythologies, Shintoism, and many tribal religions of Africa and the Americas.

*Primordial Universe, The The very first universe to appear out of hyperspace, from which all other parallel universes spawned. Scientists define it as interpreting the properties of our own early Universe. But there must have been a moment when hyperspace, the container of all potential universes, was absent of any three-dimensional realm. If hyperspace exists eternal, it must have taken a series of chance circumstances, perhaps a mutation of virtual particles, for the very first three-dimensional universe to sprout forth. This primordial universe would be the true beginning of all potential universes, not just a beginning for our own.

Principle of Imperfection Philosophical argument supporting evolution. If God is a perfect being, why did He not make everything in the Universe perfect? Why are we so imperfect if we are supposed to be a reflection of Him? Freewill is a religious proponent’s biggest argument against any notion of imperfection.

*Rational Disciples Christians and other religious adherents tolerant of another’s beliefs. A rational disciple adheres to the teachings of their religious organization or manuscript but remains sympathetic to the beliefs of others. They are non-judgmental, educated, and respectful of their fellow human. They tend to accept science and principles of evolution, interpreting them as God’s vehicles of nature. They realize science and religion can work together to interpret the mechanics of the Universe.

Scientific Creationism Scientists call this an oxymoron. Since religious fanatics who adhere to creationism do not utilize the scientific method and use only certain aspects of science that might support their position, there is no such thing as scientific creationism. It is not based on any form of science, nature, or logic, so the term should remain strictly as creationism.

*Ultraistic Disciples Religious cults and extreme fundamentalists are examples of ultraistic disciples. They adhere to literal interpretations of the Bible, sometimes interpreting passages of scripture in a way that supports their organization’s beliefs. They borrow scientific theories and hypotheses that fit their dogma, disregarding others, such as evolution, which do not. They are expressly critical of other religions and other denominations associated with their own. Some are downright violent. Radical Islam is another example, in particular those sects that believe terrorism is justifiable homicide.

Universal Cosmic Consciousness Supported by Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner, an idea that the Universe harbors some form of “consciousness” of which we are all a part. He argues quantum mechanics will continue to prove this. Other interpretations insist Schrödinger’s cat experiment is superfluous since there is always some form of consciousness observing every event. Because of this, wave functions collapse at random regardless of conscious observers. Since during the early Universe there existed no conscious beings of any kind to make observations, if there is anything valid to the experiment and other collapsed wave functions, there should be something valid to the idea of universal cosmic consciousness.

Verifiability Principle of Reason Something is meaningful only if it can be proven true or false. Ethical, moral, or religious interpretations for something have meaning strictly because they influence feelings, conduct, or belief. They are not falsifiable, so are equally unverifiable. Many aspects of quantum theory and theoretical physics are stuck somewhere in between, so this principle may apply only to classical aspects of physics. If scientists were strict with this approach, some could argue progress would stagnate. Others suggest it is preposterous to assume our limited technological perspective is worthy of adopting such a narrow stance. There remains too much we are ignorant of to restrain our approach to this principle. Evidence against its validity points to the contribution philosophers and science-fiction writers have made to scientific progress over the years.

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      Matilda Mk2 2 years ago

      Bill - If atheists are unfriendly, it's usually because they always have to be on the defensive against the religious bullies and bible bashers that can't see, hear, think or reason outside of their religious soap box.

      So rather than be defensive they steer clear of religious nutters.

    • Bill Sego profile image
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      Bill Sego 3 years ago from Logan, Ohio

      Oztinato, you should read my book then, which comes out in August, as it attempts to bridge the chasms that exist between those that adhere to religion or metaphysics and those that are unfriendly atheists. I agree with you and feel there should be some common ground between all belief and anti-belief systems...especially love and humanity. There exists no happy medium though. Love should not exempt us from discovering the true nature of existence and what makes the Universe tick. It's the quest for it that can make us all better people in the end...

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 3 years ago from Australia

      Enlightened Love is what makes a "homo sapiens" a human. Without love ad compassion we are no longer human. The author and inventor of the importance of Love in Western philosophy was JC. This modern philosophy conquered the Ancient Roman Empire and slowly spread.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 3 years ago from Australia

      All science (and culture) evolved out of religion until about the mid 20th Century.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 3 years ago from Australia

      All science and culture evolved out of religion until about the mid 20th Century.

      This is indisputable and proven by history; it can be checked with even the most casual reference to any history book or wiki in a few minutes.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Once upon a time I got a degree in Philosophy. Your writing takes me back to the time I moved forward to get a doctorate, in the philosophy of law which we call jurisprudence or so my degrees state. But I fall so short of that now, in so many people's views. For I found the transforming molecule that goes faster than the speed of light, makes atomic reaction irrelevant and makes speaking of God not longer about thought.

      There is this thing that I have found throughout mankind, this omnipresent force that humbles and changes reality.

      This is best known yet inadequately as Love. My Love can be transferred from me to you in less than a nanosecond not matter the light year distance or time or space continuum or not.

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