Part III. Religion v. The Scientific Community
Who will be the ultimate revealers of truth? Which group has a monopoly on truth? Can truth be defined or quantified? Will it be religion, in the final analysis that reveals all of the truth to us? On the other hand, will it be some other discipline like the scientific community that guides us into all of the truth? Moreover, how long will religion continue, to lay the same foundation over and over again?
Praxis: What is my praxis, and what do I believe. My position is simply this; I believe that truth does not strictly lie within the domain of religion. I also believe that truth has been waiting a long time for us to catch up with it, and that we have been hampered from doing so because of religion.
The worldwide religious community has been an abysmal failure over the years in many respects; therefore, it is difficult to understand why religious people believe that they have a monopoly on truth, or why members of the religious communities still take us seriously.
And what about all of the other disciplines, don't they have anything to say that is worth consideration? Does it matter at all what they have researched and found to be true?
Before Jesus departed from the earth, he promised his disciples that he would send back 'paracletos', a comforter that would guide them into 'ALL OF THE TRUTH'. That statement made it clear that not all of what his disciples understood at the time included all of the truth.
On another occasion, Jesus explained, that 'the truth will make one free'! How many people especially religious ones, feel as if they are free, if nothing else, from the tyranny of religion? And keep in mind that it was tyrannical religious folks in Jesus’ day, that kept the people in bondage; they were also responsible for the death of Jesus.
That the religious community is a repository of some of the truth is without question. That the religious community is the sole repository of truth is certainly questionable.
In Peter 2:17, he wrote, These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
He wrote that it would have been better if they had not known the way at all, than to have been conscripted by these religious teachers who brought them back into bondages.
The same holds true today I believe, whether you belong to the Synagogue, the Church or to the Mosque...! Too many religious organizations, and particularly religious prelates, pastors, imams, rabbis ..., simply bombard their followers with political and religious dogma as they proceed to dominate the thinking of their audiences.
And having placed their subjects (under a spell of fear and control), they proceeded to administer an implacable set of doctrines, from which the recipient finds it difficult to escape.
Too many religious people, regardless of whatever religious faith they happen to be of, live under the weight of fear and are subject to tyrannical control. Even when these individuals reason that something is amiss, they are too afraid to admit it, to speak openly or to act upon their suspicions and to conduct an unbiased investigation. Let's face it folks, different religious groups are suspicious, intolerant and in competition with other religious groups.
Too many faithful religious adherents today are missing out on the clarity and richness of thought. It begs the question when does an individual or group of individuals take responsibility for their destinies? Clearly, given all of the religious substrate organizations in the world, either none of them fully represents the truth, or all of them contain some elements of the truth within their belief systems.
In order for an individual to arrive at his or her proper his or her destiny, they must feel free to think and to be directed by something or someone other than a teacher that has some other interest in mind.
Domination can be as much a part of any religion organization as taking the sacraments. My childhood pastor would often teach us that, ‘we are living beneath our privileges’. Why? Because as a collective group of people, we have not learned yet how to make maximum use of our God-given power.
When the primary focus of religion has more to do with do’s and don’ts, or death and dying, one can easily spend his life leaving under a shadow of fear. How many people spend each day wondering whether or not this will be their last day on earth?
May individuals, particularly religions ones, are willing to forfeit the blessings that were bestowed upon them in this life, in order to gain what they expect in an afterlife; for them this life ends up being a throwaway life. These individuals have simply been taught to forfeit their time on earth in hopes of a better life.
Too many individuals have lived the majority of their lives beneath the oppressive yoke of fear and mendacity, and as a result have lived unfulfilled lives while spending their years on earth waiting for something spectacular to occur in the future.
As an example, in the Christian Church, the singular event that Christians are waiting for to take place is an expected event that is often referred to as ‘the rapture’. During this harvesting event, it is expected that God will exclusively extract good Christians from the earth, and everyone else will be ‘left behind’.
In the interim, good Christians are doing all that they can in order to ensure their entrance, in deference to others, into Heaven. Some Christians could care less about what happens to the rest of humanity. These Christians, given their years of dutiful sacrifice, feel that they alone deserve something better like a place in heaven.
The majority of Christians believe what they have been taught, that a seed has been planted and has subsequently germinated into the soil of their lives. And, seeing how they have become God’s living planted organisms and all that is left for them to do then (besides going to church) is to wait for the day of harvest.
Not so long ago, another religious group decided that knew the exact date when Jesus would return to the Earth, so they prepared to be beamed up to the mother ship. And whether it was said in jest or not, rumor has it that several of their ministers told their followers to live it up. The members were to charge everything on credit, because they would not be around afterward to pay the bills anyway.
And as it has happened many times in the past when some religious prognosticator attempted to predict the day of the Lord's return, once again he did not show up. Well, either that or they were left behind too! I suspect that some of these individuals are still paying off their bloated credit card accounts.
Oddly enough, most religious individuals do not believe in evolution. When I discuss the rapture with them, I often ask, ‘aren't you then waiting for the next step in the divine evolutionary life cycle’? My query is frequently met with silence. Most religious people cannot or will not accept theistic evolution as a part of divine planning.
Many Christians refuse to accept that many of the changes that have taken place on earth already were a part of pre-planned divine evolution.
Just yesterday, a believer was reading, in my presence, from the third chapter of the book of Genesis. In fact, he was reading form the passage where God cursed the serpent. According to the divine curse, the serpent was sentenced to crawling upon its belly, which presupposes that the serpent’s forward and backward motion up to that point, was done other than by crawling.
The latter supports the tenets of evolution, that some species adapted, grew legs and actually walked up out of the ocean. Was the serpent bi-pedal prior to the curse? The reader of the text became quiet at that point.
That many religious individuals deny theistic evolution is a consequence of classical religious conditioning. The object of most religious conditioning is to abut answers that may derive from any other source.
Since none of us have been here before, that is unless you believe in transmigration of the soul or spirit, how can religious groups be so firm in their resolve that there is no such thing as evolution, even divine evolution.
Oh and by the way, fortunately some religious groups are starting to crack under the weight of proof. They are beginning to admit that evolutionary adaptations have occurred in certain species. They still have a lot more to learn.
Having not understood this world yet, can you believe all of the religious individuals who are ready to take on another world? The question that religious individuals ought to be asking themselves is whether or not they have done all that was expected of them in this world?
That humans have the ability to reason at all, must have some purpose despite what religion teaches. Can faith and reason coincide; I have learned that the two disciplines can work hand in hand. Does God reason…? According to the book of Isaiah, God once invited Israel to come together with him so that the two could reason together.
Science: In our world today, two major groups have since the 17th century enlightenment period vied for our attention. Each one has attempted to explain what was once considered to be indefinable, inexplicable and mysterious.
Each discipline also attempts to answer the who, what, why, where and when questions that have plagued the human family since it began. One, more than the other often tries to define the narrative. Having said that however, the latter (science) has been proven to be correct more often than its self-described competitor, religion.
I am a very spiritual person, and I believe that there is that which exists that is unobservable to the unaided human eye. Here, we are getting into the area of quantum physics (something that religion and the religious community customarily ignore).
While believing (not by a customary religious definition) in the spiritual, at the same time I believe in science. In fact, I have a very deep appreciation for the discipline of science as well as for the members of the scientific community. I respect anyone and any discipline that is not in denial, and will make the effort to understand the truth, and to attempt to verify its findings, even if it occasionally makes mistakes while trying to do so.
I can still recall, on a previous occasion, when I was in a debate on this very topic, science v. religion. I reminded my opponent that the church has often been proven wrong, despite its claims of absolutism and inerrancy.
Which of these two disciplines (and there are others) is there than can supply us with responsible well thought out and tested answers? In my opinion, both disciplines have much to offer, however, because one invokes a methodology of proof when seeking after truth, religion in my opinion comes in at a distant second to science.
In my view, science informs us while religions trivialize to a substantial degree those things that matter the most to human beings. When it comes to religion humans are asked to make an incredible stretch, and simply accept, what some individual says is true, regardless of anything to support his or her claims.
Did the Apostle Paul or any of his contemporaries ever observe a microbial organism? Did they understand thermodynamics, entropy, Kepler's Laws...? What did the majority or our ancestors, predecessors and ancient writers understand, truly, about the heavens? Did they know anything about quantum or theoretical physics?
And yet, despite knowing very little about how the Universe actually began or worked, many of these individuals, including ancient biblical writers, made themselves authorities on a topic that they apparently knew very little about.
In post-modern times, we have visited, thrived and traveled back and forth in the heavens. We have dispatched probes into the far reaches of Space. We have landed humans on the moon. We have placed floating labs and telescopes into space, which have the ability to peer into what we refer to as the past. The latter begs the question, and then which discipline should be teaching the other? Should religion teach science, or should science be teaching religion.
Just imagine this, if God worked in the past with the untrained human mind (referred to in the Canon as the unlearned and the ignorant), imagine how much more powerful the combination of a 21st century trained mind (that has been guided by a divine mind), could be? One can only imagine the dividends that would result from such a combination? And just as I have always said in my sermons, what we refer to as God does not go to the library in order to acquire knowledge: 'GOD" is the library, or in other words the repository of all knowledge, wisdom and information.
Perhaps then, we could negate what had been written by the Prophet Isaiah in the book that bears his name: In Isaiah 55 it reads, 'your thoughts are not my thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways..., as far as the heavens are above the earth...! The fact is today, that we should not be worshipping a god of the harvest, a god of the wind, a Zeus, Poseidon, Osiri... as our predecessors once did; in fact, we ought to be seeking after what is real. God made it clear to Israel on many occasions that he was sick of their sacrifices.
I believe that what many individuals in religious institutions refer to as God does exist. However, I go on record as saying that I do not believe "IT" exists in the form, or that it is of the substance that most religions believe.
In fact, I believe that what most ancient, modern and post-modern religious groups and individuals refer to as God, is even bigger than what they could have ever imagined based upon the research that has been done in the scientific community.
Sadly, many religious individuals look at me in complete disbelief when I mention that a day is coming when we will no longer refer to this principle, entity or whatever it happens to be by the symbolic term God.
Soon we will abandon this description and the use of this expression, just as we have done with the other names and appellations that were used in the past to refer to 'IT".
I do not believe that 'IT" is an anthropomorphic being, at least not the kind that has been constructed by man and in man's image; I often refer to the latter as the anthropomorphic God. Now that is not to say that "IT" could not occupy a human body or some other form if "IT" so desired.
Could I be wrong? Of course, I could be wrong. But religion, I remind you again have often been wrong. And. I appreciate the words of the late Bishop Harris of Chicago Illinois. He was often known to repeat the following phrase: I suppose that my opinion is just as good as anyone else's.
And wouldn't this explain why 'IT' has never been seen before by human’s eyes, i.e., 'it isn’t human'! It could be a mathematical construct!
I can only imagine what both disciplines, science and religion could accomplish if the two worked together, minus the typical histrionic and annoying attacks that often arose from the religious community. Either religion needs to stay in its place, or it needs to change its model and begin to seek after truth - whatever truth turns out to be.
I believe that 'IT', 'I AM', or God if you prefer wants to be known, however, that humans have to be in a position to understand and recognize it.
This is a bit off topic; however, here is just another example of how religious influencers can go too far (without taking any responsibility for the consequences of their dogma). I was recently appalled given the interference of Pope Benedict II, the current Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He recently insisted that citizens in countries like Darfur (where socially transmitted diseases are running rampant), should abandon the use of condoms and practice abstinence instead.
Frankly, like most people of the earth, the people of Darfur and other STD nations are not going to stop engaging in sexual intercourse. Therefore, why should anyone, including a religious leader, discourage the citizens of these states from engaging in responsible behavior? What happened to an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, prevention in this instance being the use of protection? Of course, since the Pope is celibate, I suppose that he feels that other people should have the same gift!
Why have so many religious groups and their leaders found it necessary to ignore one’s right to reason or to decide for themselves what is best for them? The late Pope, John Paul II was a proponent of reason and science; he endorsed reason, and explained how faith, reason and science could work together.
The late Pope encouraged the working of science and religion together. However, in consideration of the more doctrinaire Pope Benedict II, one cannot help but wonder whether certain religious groups and individuals simply have a death wish for other people, or are they simply preoccupied with death themselves.
Frankly, if individuals are not going to give up a practice (they don't have the gift and don't claim to have it), we should at least encourage them to do what they can to minimize the spread of diseases. Isn't that 'reasonable' if not responsible? Or, on the other hand would we prefer that humans play Russian Roulette with their lives as well as the lives of other people?
The message of religion often differs from the entity that religion refers to itself as God. ITs purpose was to save and to heal; the mission of religion often appears to be just the opposite. Religion takes on the role of the high court, often it is as if religion wants to find and punish sinners, as oppose to helping people to overcome! Are there any perfect people on the face of the earth?
Oftentimes, even in a post modern context, someone on the outside of religious circles makes a breakthrough discovery that is beneficial to humankind. And at the time they are excoriated for doing so by religious individuals or clerics.
I personally believe that if Jesus were to return to the Earth today in an unrecognizable form (even if his purpose was to rapture Christians), that the religious world would likely capture him and put him to death all over again.
Of course they would use some post-modern method to accomplish their aim. The Reverend Pat Robertson would likely settle for a simple covert operation that would result in the assassination of Jesus.
Last day prophets: I suspect that many of our past and present day scientists will likely turn out to be the true prophets of the post-modern era. And while scientists will be busy working to disclose what is real, our ministers will still be down at the church, or Imams at the Mosque, Rabbis at the Synagogue..., preaching adherence to the 1st century foundational stone.
How much more could our predecessors have gotten out of life, if they had not been conditioned to believe that they were, everyday of their lives, living in the last days, and with the weight of some impending catastrophic calamity hanging over their heads.
What would happen if Jesus were to come and certify that the way to eternal life would be through studying stem cells, or by genetic engineering, cloning or transferring consciousness from one body into another body?
On a personal level, death of our loved ones is probably the second most important thing to us, second only to our own deaths. Then why wouldn't we support any community that can come up with the antidote to sickness or the cure for death? Shouldn't we be living as long as let's say a Methuselah or an Adam once lived? What is holding us back?
We already know that religious individuals, in spite of their often misbehavior in terms of classifying most things as evil, will take antidotes whenever they are available.
Then how come they refuse to encourage the discovery of a breakthrough antidote or solution that will free not only them, but their loved ones from sickness and death? Again, will God reveal truth through a willing scientific community in order to bring about the long-anticipated eternal life? Or on the other hand will he continue to try to give new revelations to our stubborn group of stand-still religious organizations and clerics?
Once the breakthrough occurs, I assure you that religious individuals will be the first ones in line to take advantage of the eternal life solution!
Scientists may in fact be 'the comforters' who we were told would bring back the Spirit of Truth, as opposed to the spirit of dogma and error that is currently so pervasive. Jesus brought truth to the Earth, and he was crucified for doing so - nevertheless his message lives on today.
There are many converted scientists working in the scientific community that have discovered God in ways that religion never imagined, e.g., through mathematics, astronomy, theoretical physics, quantum physics... and the humane genome!
My God, Einstein, considered by many in modern times to be one of the greatest if not the greatest scientists of the 20th century, was a believer.
I also believe that the scientific community will find what the religious community has been talking about for what seems like a millennia, God, as a known and quantifiable entity.
Religious individuals, especially Christians ones will often say that if God can speak through a donkey or a chicken then certainly God can speak through a woman. This unflappable comment is not very flattering to women when you think about it, for it lowers women to the status of animals.
However, and having said that, by using their illogic, it is it conceivable then that God, the God Principle, the Singularity, the Unifying Principle ..., could speak through a scientist? I suspect that God has been doing it all along, that is speaking through the worldwide scientific community.
For after all how have humans come to understand, time, space, matter, entropy, atoms, quarks, motion, force, gravity? God apparently revealed the knowledge to the scientific community, we certainly did not learn about the natural world from religion. God is the master scientist, whether the religious community will accept that fact of life or not!
The world that we live in has been better understood as a result of scientific research and discovery, not because of religion. Humans depend upon science for concrete answers; humans depend on religion and religious organizations for comfort!
Again, Jesus insisted that his followers seek after the truth, which is what science often does while religion prefers myth and the mystical over what is real.
Again, I believe that it is time for the religious community to accept the scientific community as well as scientific research. It is not too late for the various religious groups of the world to embrace scientific proof as revealed truth. It is time for the two disciplines to work hand in hand. Otherwise, we have been taught to go around the same mountain long enough, and just as any good accountant would do when the figures did not add up, we need to go back, every religious group, and recheck the data.
The Apostle Paul is responsible largely for what most Christians in particular, believe about the rapture, despite the fact that he believed that he would still be alive when the rapture occurred. And the latter should not be lost upon a thinking mind.
In the fifth chapter of Hebrews, verse 5:14 and 6:1-5, the unknown writer of the book explains why her reading audience must go beyond the principles of Christianity and move on to perfection.
According to Dr. Ryrie, creator of the Ryrie Bible, what she was in fact relaying to her audience was, that they must go on to completion and stop wasting time and opportunities. I often wonder how much time has been wasted by well-meaning Christian organizations given their penchant for practicing religion instead of seeking ‘the truth’!
The problem with truth, from any perspective, is that one may be required to give up his or her long-held beliefs and prejudices that are simply not true when held up to scrutiny; and it doesn't matter how long one has been laboring under a misimpression. And what would be the benefit of doing so? It would result in freedom from the spirit of error!
Could you imagine attending school and having to repeat the same grade for let us say 12 years or more? Factually, that is essentially what is happening with most religious individuals, they spend most of their religious lives stuck in the foundational faze. Some never move out of religious kindergarten.
I suspect that fulfillment, enlightenment or a mature understanding will never be reached, if one were spend the majority of their lives festering in religious kindergarten (the place of beginner's foundational truth).
Some religious individuals spend their entire religious lives being nursing infants. And we all know after a certain period, an infant must be weaned from milk as its sole dietary source, and afterward provided with solid food.
Or how else can the child grow; or how long will the child survive if he or she were to remain on mother’s milk? IT is time to embrace all of the truth, even if it means giving up some things, that when tested has been proven to be untrue!
Is it possible for us to get on God's level, so that God, as he is often referred to as, could communicate with us 'on a divine level and in a divine manner'? For science has taught us how to decipher and to distinguish unknown quantities. Science, if you think about it, is indispensable, and where would we is without it (see addenda)?
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon
A must read: The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney
to be continued...
Addenda: Are we smarter than our predecessors? Answer: We ought to be and we shouldn't be ashamed to say it, for we picked up where they left off.
What science has done a better job of explaining that religion (and keep in mind that many of the 16th and 17th century scientists were often religion people, including Catholic clerics):
Time - beginning
Space - heaven
Motion - moved
Entropy 2nd law of thermodynamics
Gravity - electromagnetism
Shamayin (heavens) where God is
Nebulae Greek for the cloud, the region where stars are born
Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, the atmosphere
Infrared only one
Radio waves - the longest
Gamma waves - the shortest
What is in Between visible light?
infraction is human light
Science has detected 200 alien planets
Pegasus 51 was discovered in 1995 by Swiss Astronomer G. Grant
What Should Have Happened By Now: Here are a few examples, can you think of any more?
The life cycle would have been extended even more than it has been, and we would likely be living what I refer to as time-independent eternal life reality.
The suppression of females would have ended, assuming that we continued to occupy gender-based bodies.
We would have done a better job of understanding and dealing with what we consider to be the more complex issues such as homosexuality (remember some humans have been born with 6 fingers and toes), stem cell research, the environment, infant mortality, autism, retardation...!
We would have dealt in an intelligent manner with those forces that encourage suppression, divisiveness, war and discrimination; the latter would likely have been eliminated.
We would also be able to communicate by now, in the language of what we refer to as God, instead of through the use of gibberish, nasal and guttural sounds.
The means and the methods that we would employ in order to relocate in space would be far more advanced.
Living on other planets (rocks), if we were to still exist in our current biological forms would have taken place by now, albeit we would have still been existing in a fairly primitive state of being inside of carbon-based bodies.
We would have had a direct encounter with, and likely have understood better, and co-existed alongside the entity, sovereignty or principle that we refer in today's nomenclature as God. Remember this entity has been referred to by many names and inscriptions including El, Adoni, Ywvh, Allah, the Great Spirit..., in the past!
Finally, if we do not get busy soon, future generations will consider us to have been nothing more than primitive failures. And those of us, who will do so, must pass the baton in order to benefit both our contemporaries and the ones who are to follow us in future generations.
If our predecessors of thousands of years ago were to return and ask, what are you folks doing today and whether or not God returned or are we living in heaven? we would answer that we are still reciting the stories that you left us thousands of years ago. Furthermore, we would tell them that Jesus has not returned according to the stories that you passed on and finally that we are definitely not living in heaven!