Volume 1: About
Toward natural religion project
This project is devoted to the construction of an evidence based religion. It works on the assumption that the Universe is divine, so that all our experience is experience of God. This assumption enables theology to become a evidence based real science. Religion is applied theology.
Each of us is
shaped by nature and nurture. Human nature unfolded through billions
of years of evolution. Although our species has existed only momentarily compared to the lifetime of the Universe, it is relatively fixed and a subject of the human life sciences. From the biological point of view, we are all one species intimately linked to all the other species of life on earth. Darwin, Jones
An important feature of humanity is our ability to learn. Learning
has enabled us to adapt culturally to the wide range of environments
in which we now live. Although our bodies are relatively fixed, our minds are quite fluid. Nevertheless, mental constructions like religions have a long life, often measured in thousands of years.
Since the beginning of recorded history, we have developed
explanatory stories to make sense of our shared experience. These stories form a foundation for religion and guide and inspire us. They help us to live in a Universe which seems to be largely an uncontrollable and mysterious wilderness. But if our religions help us they can also become entrenched and blind us to changing circumstances.
I grew up Roman Catholic Church and there learnt to see religion as
obedience to an invisible divinity who communicates with us only through the Church. Slowly (over about 40 years) I began to understand that this allegedly invisible being is in fact visible.
My new God is my environment: my
community, my planet, the whole Universe and every creature in it. No
one can survive alone. Religious beliefs handed from generation to
generation bind us into organic groups educated in the arts of
survival. Religion is an essential element of human ecology. Reynolds & Tanner
Religion binds, but it also separates. The physical resources of
the world are limited. This fact, together with variation and the
propensity of life to reproduce exponentially, sets the stage for
evolution by natural selection. Like plants and animals, strong
religious organisms grow at the expense of the weak. The great
religions of the world have exterminated or absorbed thousands of
smaller religions in the course of their growth.
The Hebrew Lord
God of the Catholic Old Testament supported the martial conquest of
the Promised Land by his Chosen People The gods of other conquerors were similarly pleased with the warlike exploits of their people. Joshua, Miles page 144.
Most wars may
be seen as holy wars. The divine mandate justifies the immense pain and
loss inflicted by war. It is clear that if we are to eliminate war
from the Earth, we must become one organism bound by one religion.
The basic motivation of this project is the search for such religious
unity ('global ecumenism'). Dower, Armstrong.
I have been trying to take theology
along the route pioneered by physics, beginning with Newton's
celestial mechanics. To be scientific, theology must be about something observable. Theology may become a science on the assumption that the visible Universe is divine. My experience of life is my experience of God. Scientific theology may guide the development of a religion tailored to the realities of the world in the same way as science in general guides all our practical
Such a religion, based on theology as a natural science, is
naturally to be named natural religion.
(Revised 13 July 2014)
You may copy this material freely provided only that you quote fairly and provide a link (or reference) to your source.
Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)
|Armstrong, Karen, Holy War: The Crusades and their impact on today's world, Anchor Books (Random House) 2001 Jacket: 'In 1095, with the tomb of Jesus still in the hands of infidels and the Byzantine empire overrun by Muslim Turks, Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and their swords against the Turks and then recover the holy city of Jerusalem from Islam. It was to be the first of the Crusades, a holy war that would focus the power of the European kingdoms against a common enemy. The Crusades became the stuff of romantic legend, but in reality were a series of rabidly savage battles carried out in the name of Christian piety to advance the power of the Western Church. Their legacy of religious violence is felt today as the age old conflict of Christians, Muslims and Jews persists.'
|Darwin, Charles, and Greg Suriano (editor), The Origin of Species, Gramercy 1998 Introduction: 'In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that each species has not been independently created, but has descended, like varieties, from other species.'
|Dower, John W, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, W W Norton/New Press 1999 Jacket: 'Embracing Defeat is an outstanding book, offering the most thorough treatment in any language of Japanese politics, society, and culture in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. John Dower leaves few questions unexplored as he probes deeply into the ways in which the Japanese struggled to come to terms with their nation's defeat. ... A worthy sequel to Dower's monumental history of the Pacific War, War without Mercy.'
|Jones, Steve, Almost like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated, Doubleday 1999 An Historical Sketch: 'The Origin of Species is, without doubt, the book of the millennium. ... [This book] is, as far as is possible, an attempt to rewrite the Origin of Species. I use its plan, developing as it does from farms to fossils, from beehives to islands, as a framework, but my own Grand Facts ... are set firmly in the late twentieth century. Almost Like a Whale tries to read Charles Darwin's mind with the benefit of scientific hindsight and to show how the theory of evolution unites biology as his millenium draws to an end.' (xix)
|Klein, Richard G, The Human Career : Human Biological and Cultural Origins , University of Chicago Press 1999 Review: 'The Human Career describes one of the most spectacular changes to have occurred in our understanding of human evolution. The once-popular fresco showing a single file of marching hominids becoming ever more vertical, tall and hairless now appears to be a fiction. ... For most of the past four million years several species of hominids coexisted, sometimes in limited geographical areas. The eventual peopling of the planet with a single homogeneous species of hominid is shown to be exceptional on the geological timescale. ... If you could have only one book that deals with human evolution, this is definitely the one to choose. ' Jean-Jacques Hublins, Nature. 403:364 27 January 2000.
|Kung, Hans, Global Responsibility: In Search of a New World Ethic, Wipf & Stock 2004 '“This is a small mountain of a book. Its sides are steep and climbed only with frequent pauses for breath, but the view from the top is worth the exertion ... we should be thankful for Hans Küng and his motivating judgment that religion remains decisive in human affairs and that peace, if it is to be found anywhere, lies along the road of intelligent and well-researched dialogue. Küng, an antidote to the conservatism of the current Vatican, is the kind of intellectual the late twentieth century needs; thorough, engaged and with a global perspective”' (Financial Times).
|Miles, Jack, God : A Biography, Vintage Books 1996 Jacket: 'Jack Miles's remarkable work examines the hero of the Old Testament ... from his first appearance as Creator to his last as Ancient of Days. ... We see God torn by conflicting urges. To his own sorrow, he is by turns destructive and creative, vain and modest, subtle and naive, ruthless and tender, lawful and lawless, powerful yet powerless, omniscient and blind.'
|Reynolds, Vernon, and Ralph Tanner, The Social Ecology of Religion, Oxford University Press 1995 Jacket: 'No society exists in which religion does not play a significant part in the lives of ordinary people. Yet the functions of the world's diverse religions have never been fully described and analyzed, nor has the impact of adherence to those religions on the health and survival of the populations that practice them. . . . this extraordinary text reveals how religions in all parts of the world meet the needs of ordinary people and frequently play an important part in helping them to manage their affairs.'
|Mythology - Wikipedia Mythology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece. In the field of folkloristics, a myth is defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form. Many scholars in other fields use the term "myth" in somewhat different ways. In a very broad sense, the word can refer to any story originating within traditions. back |
|The Book of Joshua Joshua 1 NIV 1984 '1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.' back |