My adventures in God's cafeteria started 4 years ago at the age of 37 with inspiration from Richard Dawkins after he challenged my happy apathetic Agnostic worldview with his arguments on the "The Poverty of Agnosticism", should I be comfortable with a poor worldview ?
I considered myself a Christian until I was 27, after the emotional roller coaster and the subsequent white noise of being "born again" my spiritual life faded into apathy. Religious apathy was a good place it helped me to appreciate Marcus Aurelius view of the Gods.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
Dawkins arguments inspired me, he introduced me to a new flavour in God's cafeteria. A God light Flavour that illuminated biology and helped me to get rid of many of those fatty guild ridden cultural dishes. I also became convinced that this powerful force was much bigger than a typical Third Year Biology textbook.
I love Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's views of it. “Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis?". " It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforth if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.”
Yes, I know that for many our reality is either a dreadful cosmic accident or a sublimely perfect planned execution by God. I found my world view somewhere else in exciting new views, views that changed the way that I view my reality for ever, no longer was it just black or white it was a full spectrum of colours.
Carter Phipps compiled the following short list on some of the contemporary views of Evolution :
1. The Neo-Darwinists (Dawkins, Gould, Dennet)
“We are survival mechanisms—robot machines blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.”
2. The Progressive Darwinists (Carrol, Jablonka, Lamb)
“There is a new sense of humility. . . . The discoveries being made show how enormously complicated everything is. . . . The popular conception of the gene as a simple causal agent is not valid.”
—Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb
3. The Collectivists (Bloom, Lynn Margulis, David Sloan Wilson, E.O. Wilson)
“We do not deny the importance of mutations. Rather we insist that random mutation, a small part of the evolutionary saga, has been dogmatically overemphasized. The much larger part of the story of evolutionary innovation, the symbiotic joining of organisms . . . has systematically been ignored by self-proclaimed evolutionary biologists.”
4. The Complexity Theorists (Goodwin, Kaufman, Laszlo)
“Self-organization may be thepreconditionof evolvability itself. Only those systems that are able to organize themselves spontaneously may be able to evolve further. How far we have come from a simple picture of [natural] selection sifting for fitter variants. Evolution is far more subtle and wonderful.”
5. The Directionalists (Conway Morris, Gardner, Wright)
“How can [we] possibly overlook the evidence—or, at the very least, the appearance—of directionality in evolution: the sense that the force of evolution propels life inexorably toward ever-greater complexity, diversity, mastery over its environment, and, eventually, consciousness?”
6. The Transhumanists (Ettinger, Gibson, Kurzweil)
“Although version 2.0 of the human body is an ongoing grand project that will ultimately result in the radical upgrading of all our physical and mental systems, we will implement it one small, benign step at a time.”
7. The Intelligent Designers (Behe, Dembski, Johnson)
“The first thing you understand is that the Darwinian theory isn’t true. It’s falsified by all of the evidence and the logic is terrible. When you realize that, the next question that occurs to you is, well, where might you get the truth? . . . I start with John 1:1. In the beginning was the word. In the beginning was intelligence, purpose, and wisdom. The Bible had that right. And the materialist scientists are deluding themselves.”
8. The Theistic Evolutionists (Miller, Peacocke, Polkinghorne)
“Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both . . . are worthy of respect.”
9. The Esoteric Evolutionists (Blavatsky, Steiner, C. Wilson, Tarnas)
“Everything on earth is subject to the laws of evolution, and this is particularly true for the human soul.”
10. The Process Philosophers (Whitehead, Hartshorne, Griffin)
“There is no God without a world, just as there is no world without God. We cannot think of a beginning of either.”
11. The Conscious Evolutionists (Teilhard de Chardin, Dowd, Marx Hubbard)
“God’s ecstasy creates the world, and the world’s ecstasy realizes God. And you are right in the midst of it all.”
12. The Integralists (Aurobindo, Gebser, Wilber, Combs)
“Evolutiongoes beyondwhat went before, but because it must embracewhat went before, then its very nature is to transcend and include, and thus it has an inherent directionality, a secret impulse, toward increasing depth, increasing intrinsic value, increasing consciousness.”
For a more please read the article at http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j35/real-evolution-debate-intro.asp
The different views on the list does evoke serious debate, we only have to recall how Richard Dawkins reacted when E.O. Wilson announced that he changed his views from 1 to 3 in the list above last year.
After I emerged myself in popular science I was left with a view that can be best described as Possibilianism. Please watch the following fascinating TED talk by neuroscientist David Eagleman on the concept.
My adventures with all the flavours and dishes did not end with evolution, many other menus had to be explored.
I had to find answers to why my previous religion and agnostic world view was so uncomfortable with the full extent of the human experience ?
The Human experience motivated me to look at other worldviews. Looking at foreign worldviews in an open minded sceptical fashion was not about emotions, cultural indoctrination or finding the most inspirational metaphysical book it was searching for signpost to understanding that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought something that helped me to understand my own reality. Focus is a wonderful experience, not only does it change your relationship with a object or subject concerned, it often also changes your own reality. The human history's of focussing on metal and the implications of it on my reality is a good example of what I am trying to convey.
I also learned that both my previous views liked separateness and reductionism. They often liked to ignore the miracle of info, connectivity and networks they sometimes described it as post modern (religious) or anthropomorphism (Scientists).
The most amazing discovery I made during my adventure in God's cafeteria was spiritual experiences. Learning and experiencing it made me realise that my previous worldviews struggled to realize the creativity, beauty, novelty, power and subtlety of it, they would have been closer to the truth if they admitted that such experiences was better dealt with by poets and other artists. To learn that all experiences are spiritual and that you do not have to be the victim of them changed me.
Human consciousness is not merely an emergent phenomenon; it epitomizes the logic of emergence in its very form. . . . Consciousness emerges as an incessant creation of something from nothing, a process continually transcending itself. To be human is to know what it feels like to be evolution happening.
—Terrence Deacon, “The Hierarchic Logic of Emergence
Where am I now metaphysically ? According to the following survey my views can be described as:
1. Mahayana Buddhism (100%)
2. Hinduism (96%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (86%)
4. Liberal Quakers - Religious Society of Friends (81%)
5. Sikhism (78%)
6. Taoism (74%)
7. Neo-Pagan (67%)
8. Theravada Buddhism (66%)
9. Jainism (64%)
10. New Age (62%)
11. Scientology (59%)
12. New Thought (56%)
13. Christian Science Church of Christ, Scientist (43%)
14. Orthodox Judaism (38%)
15. Orthodox Quaker - Religious Society of Friends (38%)
16. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (37%)
17. Reform Judaism (35%)
18. Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (31%)
19. Seventh Day Adventist (25%)
20. Eastern Orthodox (21%)
21. Islam (21%)
22. Jehovah's Witness (21%)
23. Roman Catholic (21%)
24. Bahia (19%)
25. Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (15%)
26. Secular Humanism (13%)
27. Non-theist (0%)
Please try the Spiritual Belief System Selector linked above and consider sharing your results with us ?
The above result is by no means a true reflection of me. I would not be surprised if Jesus really was the Saviour of Mankind. After looking at Jesus with the inspiration of my own experience, the Gospel of Thomas, the Upanishads, the Tao te Ching, Perennial thought, spiritual masters of the last 200 years and the Bhagavad Gita a different picture emerged a Jesus that I can truly admire and follow.
I know I will be confronted with many questions and requests for a proof of God. I honestly cannot help you, you need to find It for yourself. Something that I viewed last that was better and more inspirational than any church service I ever attended in this context was BBC's, Super Smart Animals, watch out for the whale encounter at the end of episode one.
“Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and everyone is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are,
for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.”
? Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass,
Thank you for reading,