I have always been fascinated by the sciences, coming as I do from a scientific and rational family background. My scientific education at school was entirely based on Newton’s laws and the mechanistic notion of the universe and life as we know it. Atheism and materialism have been around since about the seventeenth century (Descartes and Newton, for example), and we are all brainwashed in its “dogmatic” belief system as it developed under the influence of ideologies. The current controversy over climate change (the hypothesis of its having been caused by humans filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and methane, as opposed to cosmic and solar cycles) is based on what we learn from the media, said to be scientific, but which shows itself as an irrational ideology with many of the characteristics of a cult. Though I believe that we should be ecological and respect nature, I find that the notion bandied around by groups like Extinction Rebellion that the planet will become uninhabitable by 2050 resembles the apocalyptic rantings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults.
It is very difficult for us to break out of this system of thought except by accepting the teaching of a religious belief system or the rantings of a cult. When that belief system loses credibility through its internal incoherence, we fall back onto materialism and the mechanistic view of everything. Dr Richard Dawkins is one of the chief “evangelists” of atheism, and he refers to God as a delusion and consciousness in terms of bio-chemistry and unconscious matter in the brain.
Dr Rupert Sheldrake advances the idea that science cannot be based on a belief system, but on hypotheses which prove themselves or not through experiments and other methods for obtaining certain knowledge. He has written The Science Delusion. Dr Sheldrake has given a talk to introduce his book:
I have bought the book, and it is also on my reading list. I have already mentioned Idealist and Romantic notions of truth and Foundationalism. Minds like Novalis were struggling with the triumphalistic materialism of the Enlightenment for the sake of human consciousness beyond pure intellectualism. We need to study a whole notion of knowledge and truth to discover the primacy of consciousness and energy over matter. If this is acquired, we find a whole new idea of God as the universal consciousness which subsists in each human being, other species of animals and everything around us like the sea and the land of this planet.
If anything, we need a whole new Enlightenment and a new approach to science. Since the seventeenth century, we have had to deal with a dualism between disembodied consciousness and unconscious matter. This world view has found its way into Christian theology with the distinction between naturalism and supernaturalism. We need a new basis on which consciousness in everything becomes a possibility to be discovered.
What people will do with such knowledge is up to them. Some will seek out some formal or ritualistic form of religion. Others will seek an approach of “religionless Christianity” like that proposed by Bonhöffer to make a vital distinction between the Christian way and the corrupt institutional churches that became tools of political ideologies like under the Hitler regime – and which could happen again, and which has happened in differing degrees. Others will learn to experience consciousness and enter into communion with the All. Those of us who belong to churches need a new openness of mind to take on a new approach to science and philosophy. It will give us a whole new approach to symbolism, liturgy, prayer and meditation.
I see a lot of hope in this progress of science and philosophy in our own time, a more rational approach to what we are discovering, a new sense of wonder.