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Book Introduction

Did the universe begin by divine design
Or with a Big Bang and eons of time?
Were we cast by and in the likeness of the Sublime
Or did we crawl by mutation from the primordial slime?
Is there a God who hears our prayers
Or are we alone with our hopes and tears?
Do each of us have a spirit or soul
Or do chemicals have the only role?
With our deaths do our spirits find release
Or does our earthly existence simply cease?
Should we live our lives for God’s glory
Or simply do whatever makes us happy?
Do we have the free will to write our own story
Or are decisions the result of genes and history?
Are certain events meant to be
Or does all occur randomly?
Will God’s judgment come after cataclysmic days?
Or will our world end with the sun’s dying rays?

For centuries leading up to the latter part of the Twentieth, the answers to the above questions were firmly planted in most people's minds. But for at least the last two generations of the Western world, many people have not been as certain of the answers. While reasons for this doubt surfaced long before the past forty years, the pervasive impact of that uncertainty only became apparent during this span of time.

Following the decade of my birth, the 1950s, the numbers regularly attending church have steadily declined. Signaling a lack of meaning in our lives, incidences of risky behavior and suicide rates have dramatically increased. Though Nietzsche declared, “God is dead,” in the middle of the Nineteenth century, His obituary was not a part of popular culture for several generations.1 On April 8, 1966, the famous cover of Time magazine asked the question "Is God Dead?"

As is true with most significant societal changes, the causes of this change have been many. But the single most important factor has been the intellectual clash between scientific knowledge and religious beliefs. Some may argue that we need only give each its "proper place" and there would be no conflict between science and religion. I disagree. To the extent that science and religion both offer us “truth" about our world, there is the potential for conflict. When those truths are mutually exclusive, the conflict is real. Many of those major conflicts are set forth in verse above.

When asked in surveys, the vast majority of Americans answer that they believe in God and that they believe that the Bible is the word of God.2 But a very large portion of these self-identified believers have substantial doubt and the source of that doubt is the conflict between what the Bible proclaims about our world and what science tells us. The scientific community has presented us with Darwinian evolution and the Big-Bang theory of creation of the universe providing answers to these and other mysteries without the intervention of God and contrary to what we read in the Bible.

Religion has been the basis for meaning in most people’s lives for centuries. Without religion what will invest life with meaning? Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, has shown us the significance of meaning for our well-being. His school of psychology, logotherapy, is oriented around the necessary presence of meaning in each of our lives.3 For centuries religious beliefs have been the ultimate rationale for making many decisions. Without religion, upon what shall we base our decisions?

Each day of our lives we make hundreds, perhaps thousands of choices. Most seem unimportant. Many are made out of habit and without thought. A great deal of what we do we believe is required of us, mostly due to past choices. Occasionally we realize the importance of a decision–most often substantially after making that decision. The range of choices available depends upon the individual and the circumstances presented to him or her, but none of us can avoid the reality that we must and do make choices. Eventually we realize that our choices define our lives.

Since our decisions determine the course of our lives, the most important endeavor in our lives should be to know and understand the answers to the questions posed above. If we ultimately conclude that our choices do not really matter, we may have wasted our time with this inquiry. But without considering these issues, we will never know. If some choices are better than others, knowing how to make the right choices will be the most important knowledge we could ever possess. With these answers, we may also find affirmation of our value as human beings and meaning for each of the days of our lives. Through this search, we might discover that we have an important and vital place in the universe–both while we are alive and after we die.

Hopefully, the above reasons are cogent and sufficiently compelling for the reader to keep turning these pages. But before embarking on this quest, the reader should know that this inquiry will be quite far reaching. The vital questions posed cannot be answered without reviewing the most important scientific knowledge accumulated in the recent past and exploring the most fundamental issues with which men and women have struggled since before recorded history.

Set forth in verse above are the questions that this book will endeavor to answer. The verses above juxtapose polar positions on these issues. The choice will not be simply between one or the other of those positions. Some answers to the questions as posed in the above verses may be "neither" or "both." Restated without presupposing any answers, those questions are:

1) How did the universe begin?
2) How did life begin?
3) Does God exist?
4) Do we each have a spirit or soul?
5) What happens after we die?
6) How should we live our lives?
7) Do we have free will?
8) Are events in our lives random?
9) Will the universe come to an end?

Ultimately each of us should make his or her decision how to answer these vital questions. I will tell you what I believe and why with the hope that my explanations might in some way assist your inquiry into these issues.

Any philosophical inquiry must start with an analysis of how we “know” what is true. In today’s world, the word “knowledge” is almost always equated with scientific knowledge. In fact, the Latin word for “knowledge” is “scientia”.4 The paramount position of science over the past few centuries has been the product of a revolution changing the intellectual and physical landscape of our world. Astounding technological capabilities have emerged, but so have significant challenges for traditional religious beliefs. Science will be the prime but not the exclusive means of discovery; other methods will be included as well.

The reader has noticed that the term “knowledge” was used above when referring to science but the term “belief” was used when referencing religion. This distinction is commonly observed. It results from the difference in certainty of proof within each subject matter. Historically religious beliefs began where scientific knowledge left off, just as belief begins where knowledge ends.

As scientific knowledge has expanded, religious beliefs have often, usually after debate and struggle, been modified in scope and substance. Of course, those with strong convictions frequently yield only with significant reluctance. Centuries ago that struggle was readily apparent when Kepler and Galileo introduced the laws of planetary motion. Most recently we have witnessed such a conflict on the issue of evolution. This conflict has persisted into the Twenty-First Century.

This book will contain a proposal for how the conflict between religion and science can and must be resolved. Ways in which religion and science can and should inform each other will be discussed. Perhaps in place of the words "can and must" should be the words "is and will." Much of what is written herein could be viewed as an announcement of what is, at least in part, happening now, rather than just what should happen in the future.

Part of that proposal is the need for religious “beliefs” to be modified to accommodate scientific knowledge. With such modifications, religious beliefs can become more viable and vital.

A second part of the proposal will be the need for changes in approach by science. Scientific thought has been controlled by reductionists, those who bring to science an unproven premise that the world can be reduced to fundamental particles by whose interaction all the world can be explained. This prejudicial approach is contrary to the very foundations of the scientific method, has limited scientific exploration and stunted its expansion.

The age of reductionism began when most scientists were deeply religious. For centuries the inherent conflict between reductionism and religion was masked by Cartesian dualism separating the scientific, material world from the religious world of the mind and spirit.5 This conflict between science and religion must and will be resolved and the dualism eliminated. Eliminating the dualism will help lead to a convergence of knowledge of the material world and the world of the mind and spirit. As the reader will see, there are at least hints of such an interface between mind and matter in the subatomic realm.

Generally, science offers answers to the question “how” while religion offers answers to the question “why.” I believe that these two questions are related and by understanding that relationship we can achieve reconciliation between religion and science.

When exploring the future relationship of scientific and religious thought, an important focus will be the elevation of religious “belief” to a higher status. Although differing from scientific knowledge, a foundation for “spiritual knowledge” will be proposed. My definition of “spiritual knowledge” is knowledge by which we can understand our relationship with each other and the universe and upon which we can base decisions on how we should live our lives.

Using the term “spiritual knowledge” actually undermines that which I seek to accomplish. We should view knowledge as a single entity and not categorize it. For example, knowledge of how the universe was created should not be viewed as “scientific” or “spiritual.” Such knowledge may have been developed by use of the scientific method, but it also has significance for spiritual issues.

Rather than being divided based upon method of discovery or relevance, knowledge should be viewed simply as knowledge and not viewed differently based upon its origin or usage. Avoiding categorization of knowledge will lead us away from the intellectual schizophrenia referred to above that we need desperately to avoid. The term “spiritual knowledge” will be used, not to categorize knowledge, but to emphasize that part of our single body of knowledge does include knowledge that is important for spiritual issues, i.e. what is important for spiritual issues is part of what is knowable.

Knowledge derived from the scientific method is progressive, building upon itself. The more it progresses, the more it helps to complete a comprehensive understanding of our world. For spiritual purposes, our understanding of our world must be more complete than most scientists are willing to offer. To give ultimate answers, we must be as complete as possible. We must be willing to go further than most scientists would take us to establish spiritual knowledge.

For millennia, the most crucial but elusive task for philosophers has been to establish an objective basis for values and ethics. My proposal for "spiritual knowledge" will lay a foundation for such an objective basis for values, i.e. for knowledge about how we “should” live our lives. This quest is the most essential part of this book. If such objective values could be established to the satisfaction of a majority of the population of the world, such values could be the basis for common goals and a generally accepted basis for conducting world affairs.

The key to an objective basis for values is a true understanding of the relationship between the individual and the universe. Without such an understanding, human beings are left with only a subjective basis for values. The dualism of each individual and the rest of the world is one of several divides to be bridged. Some of the other dualisms addressed are: Science and religion (as suggested earlier), God and man, matter and mind, life and death and past and future.

The bridge between each individual and his or her world is spirituality. A major theme will be the need for greater spirituality. While many people equate religion and spirituality, there is a major difference between the two. While they are often found together, there are many who deem themselves religious who are not very spiritual and there are people who are spiritual who do not deem themselves religious. Not all need to be religious in the sense that they adhere to an established religion, but everyone should be spiritual and accept commonly established spiritual knowledge.

If spiritual knowledge can be established, along with a common path for all knowledge, both scientific and religious, a common path for all religious or spiritual knowledge will also be established. As depicted on the cover of this book, a common path for all knowledge will result not only in a confluence of scientific and religious paths, but all religious paths, both East and West. With that confluence, not only will science inform religion, but all religions will inform each other by including common spiritual knowledge. Also, with the establishment of spiritual “knowledge,” the wisdom of many religious traditions may be placed upon a firmer foundation and, thereby, restored to its proper place in our decision-making process.

This book will proceed as follows:

Parts I and II will explore the past and future paths of both religion and science. Part I will include an exploration of “religious beliefs,” examining the nature of religious beliefs, problems with religious beliefs and ways in which religion should and will change. Part II, wherein science will be examined, will parallel the first part on religion, defining scientific knowledge, exploring boundaries of past scientific knowledge and ways science should change. While offering answers to the fundamental questions set forth above, Part III will contain a proposal for spiritual knowledge and an explanation of the means used to acquire such knowledge.
While formulating these answers, such topics as the nature of the material world, the elusive concept of individual consciousness, the realm of the spirit and the fundamentals of reality will be discussed. Lastly, the ramifications of those answers for present day religions will be discussed, exploring each of six religions separately and offering further direction for the future of spirituality.

At the beginning of each chapter, the reader will find portions of a verse collectively entitled “Man’s Path to Spiritual Knowledge.” The portion placed before each chapter will reflect, at least in part, the material covered in that chapter and the positions on those issues taken therein. The verse in its entirety is set forth in the appendix.

When setting forth the place for spiritual knowledge and justifying the answers proposed, I will take what I believe to be a novel approach. During my time as an attorney, I spent a substantial amount of time in the courtroom. As I contemplated what I believed to be true about the world and what I could substantiate, it occurred to me that some aspects of the legal system could be applied to my pursuit of “philosophical truth.” In this book, I borrow from the legal system the concept of “burden of proof” and in particular the “burden of proof” in civil cases.

Most people are familiar with the burden of proof in criminal cases. As most of us know from television and legal novels, to find a person guilty of a crime, the prosecution must prove the defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In civil cases, the burden of proof is far less stringent.
To meet the “burden of proof” in a civil case, one need only prove one’s case is more probably true than not true. This standard is generally referred to as “beyond the preponderance of the evidence.” Some have quantified this standard as being “fifty-one percent.” I will set forth why this standard is applicable for my inquiry and the significance for the reader’s most fundamental beliefs.

A second concept I borrow from the legal system is the concept of circumstantial evidence. We prefer to have direct evidence to prove a proposition. For instance, an eye witness testifying to a crime is direct evidence. But lacking direct evidence, proof is often established by proof of the circumstances surrounding the crime and the alleged perpetrator.

Before agreeing that a juror may serve, each attorney tries his best to discover any prejudice (pre-judgments) a prospective juror may possess. Since I will be telling the reader what I think the evidence proves, it is important that I reveal to the reader any pre-judgments I may have. While I believe I can be fair and impartial when judging the evidence, I will readily admit to one prejudice: I love life.

I must admit that my love of life may be the result of more than just my intellectual conclusions. I often tell people that I feel I am the luckiest person alive. Some would say that I have been “blessed.” While it is my hope that I can convince the reader that my love of life is justified, I believe the reader should be aware of my feelings.

Despite this acknowledged prejudice, I do pledge to the reader to be as objective as possible. I will do my best to be different from the lawyer who was interviewing for a position as a vice president for a particular corporation. He was the third candidate to be interviewed by the president of the company. The first was an accountant. The second was an engineer. During each interview, the president asked each candidate what 52 times 52 was. When asked, the accountant got out his calculator and told the president the answer was 2704. The engineer used his slide rule to get the same result and that was also his answer. The attorney’s response was to go over to the windows, close the blinds, return to his chair opposite the president’s desk and ask in a hushed tone, “What do you want it to be?” I will attempt to evaluate the evidence, not create it.

As you consider the “evidence” set forth herein, let yourself be as jurors weighing that evidence. As lawyers say in their closing statements, I will tell you what I believe the evidence shows, but it is ultimately up to you to decide what you believe to be true. You may not believe that the evidence proves what I believe it does or you may believe the evidence proves more than I contend. The verdict
will be yours.