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vol 8: History
A theory of Peace

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1: About
2: Synopsis
3: Development

Next: History: toc
Previous: 10: Evil

4: Glossary
5: Questions

6: Essays
7: Notes
8: History

9: Persons

10: Supplementary
11: Policy



a personal journey to natural theology

This site is part of the natural religion project The natural religion project     A new theology    A commentary on the Summa    The theology company



I now feel that these lectures are quite a successful first attack on a problem that has been very hard for me to define. So I have decided to publish them in written form.

They are presented here verbatim, with only the misprints and egregious blunders removed. These words are written with hindsight. I can see a little better where I was heading in the lectures.

The most interesting thing to me is that I gave them at all. When I read back over the, I find they are quite a strong statement. In the midst of all my passionate struggles with the meaning of life, I have been watching myself. In nautical terms, what was happening was being logged. I have used my access to that log to reconstruct my steps in the voyage.

The voyage was from authoritarian to natural. It is not yet complete, but the first steps feel good. Authorities, I believe, live in a fools paradise. They do it by wielding power. Not their own power, but power that people have given away because it is easier to be ruled than to work our one's own life.

Their world is a fools paradise because they use their power to deceive themselves by hiding from experience. When I was an authority I took my role very seriously. I believed in the truth. I was being prepared to preach the truth to the faithful. I was, after all, a member of the Order of Preachers, best known for their intellectual superiority and their role in the inquisition.

I believed in the end point of the authoritarian fantasy, heaven. I still believe in heaven, but a different one. Letting go of the old heaven was one of the most difficult parts of my transition. I had invested heavily in heaven, and I thought it was money in the bank, big money. I had made novenas and gone to early mass and fasted and vowed myself to poverty, chastity and obedience to get that heaven.

I'd earnt myself numerous perpetual indulgences, and spent the whole of All Soul's Day getting people out of purgatory for many years. So I knew I had plenty of friends on the other side.

It was a hard thing for me to learn through relentless logic that my heaven was an illusion. I have accepted this knowledge although there is much of me that dates from the old days, lots of pockets of resistance. I think this is why I want to discuss the matter with other people and seek confirmation of my transition.

Giving lectures sometimes feels like a rather authoritarian way to go about explaining myself. On the balance, however, I believe that I have done the right thing. My debate has been between the urgency of making a new attack on the problem of peace, and the insecurity that I feel about my own little bridgehead. It has been between a passionate longing to do something about our collective plight and the need to work slowly and carefully to put ideas together in a workmanlike way.

One can look at peace from two aspects. The hard aspect has to do with law and security; the soft aspect is connected with love and freedom. The hard aspect deals with elements that can be represented unambiguously by symbols and dealt with in a rigorous intellectual manner. The soft aspect deals with human feelings and cannot be adequately symbolised or communicated.

The assumption in these lectures is that if we can sort out the hard side of peace, the soft side will take care of itself. On the other hand the motivation for the hard work comes from the search for softness and for love.

I am talking about myself here. What I think I can see in myself is that my transition from one side to the other was carried out with very strict logic, although I was not aware of this at the time. In these lectures, I am trying to express that logic. I am trying to put down a mathematical argument for being natural rather than authoritarian.

I feel that this argument has made my transition possible. I do not think I would have had the strength to reconstruct myself if I had not first been thrown out of the Church. Yet I was thrown out of the Church by my own choice. I had already begun to glimpse the outlines of my new faith when I started stirring enough within the Church to get myself thrown out.

I am trying to find the hard road to peace, that engineered structure which is strong enough, and obviously strong enough to hold a planet full of volatile and dangerous human beings together in peace.

In the language of mathematics and particle physics, I wish to use the mathematics of point sets to generalise the notion of particle to such a degree that it can encompass us as human beings. I believe that by simply postulating that we are distinct particles, with no specific assumptions about our inner workings, we can learn a great deal about how we might organise ourselves into a peaceful whole.

I see the whole question as a matter of security. One is secure when one is capable of overcoming all possible threats to one's integrity. Security thus requires both knowledge and strength.

The first step towards security is to know the enemy. This requires exploration. Exploration itself carries risk, since any patrol sent out to explore the surrounding territory may find itself at a disadvantage if it makes contact with the enemy.

From knowledge of the enemy, one gains the strength to overcome it. If one is afraid to patrol, then one is left with uncertainty, and since the most conservative approach is to assume that the undiscovered enemy is present in overwhelming force, fear leads very quickly to the invention of bogeymen. As the bogeymen grow, so the apparent risk of exploration increases. Fear feeds on fear until one becomes immobilised on the spot, waiting in terror for the unknown danger to strike.

There comes a time when the immobilising effect of unfounded fear is more detrimental to one's security than any losses that might be sustained by exploration.

This example is couched in military terms, but it may easily be translated to any situation where one becomes hemmed in by far of the unknown to such as extent that it becomes impossible to explore. I believe that is what has happened to us.

In this century we have been hit by two world wars, hundreds of other wars, complete redrawing of the political face of the earth, complete revisions of every aspect of human being. No wonder we are on a hair trigger. To come down off this we have to put it all together again into a coherent world view that we can all feel at home with.


The first step is an act of faith, that there is a coherent world view to be found, that is, that there is god. Having taken this step, either hypothetically or in fact, we set out to explore the consequences. You may read these lectures to see what one person has seen on the other side of that act of faith.

This act of faith is the point at which the worm turns, and it is difficult. If the world is coherent, then I am coherent. Not a member of a race that fell apart in the Garden of Eden, but a product of 20 billion years of meticulous and painstaking evolutionary development. If I am coherent, I must take my own coherence seriously, not easy for one who has been brought up in a tradition of obedience.

I find that I have published these ideas. I must therefore feel secure enough to publish them. That is the physical evidence that publication conveys, to me as much as to you. At the least you can know that I am committed enough to my point of view to seek to make money out of it. I must be prepared to defend all my trade practices in open court.

It is a nervous commitment, but a firm one. I remain tense and insecure, but have faith in the logical interpretation of my experience.

When I ask myself what I am doing, I find it hard to answer. At the bottom, I feel that I have stumbled upon something astoundingly beautiful and strong. This vision of the world is not only beautiful., but could very well turn out to be consistent with all that we learn from mathematical proof and physical experience.

The image that goes with this is years of Gregorian chant and incense with me pounding the cloister day after day trying to fathom the nature of the Trinity. How can there be three persons in one god?

The answer, I think, is the same as the answer to our modern question: how can the universe be both one and many? As I become more familiar with the solution I see to that question, the more it appears to me as a transformation of the old theory of the trinity.

The two deepest philosophical questions of the early Church were the relationship between the persons of the trinity and the relationship between the second person of the trinity and the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus was of god. The obvious generalisation of that is that we are all god. This does not detract from Jesus' divinity, but adds to our humanity. The trinity is a multiplicity in a unity. This idea may be generalised from three distinct persons in one god to an infinity of distinct particles in one universe.

These lectures were written from a theological point of view. Theology is talk about god, that is, about the totality. The quality which graces the good theologist is complete absence of effective fear of the unknown. By effective fear, I mean fear that actually immobilises. A theologist maybe terrified of his task, like anybody exploring potentially hostile territory, but is capable of operating nevertheless.

The task of theology is to explore the whole universe of being in order to make contact with any dangers, and if they are found, to devise was of dealing with them

Theology is thus a risky business. A theologist risks his or her life from both friend and foe. One the one had there is the risk of being hit by unfriendly forces. On the other there is the risk of being hit by friends if one returns with such bad news that people must snap out of their lethargy and do something.

Theology this century has been in the hands of physics and it has indeed brought us some bad news. For many the feast day of science is the devil's feast, the day we remember the bombing of Hiroshima. Something new and cosmically terrible hit us all that day.

Physics brought us a horror, but it was a real horror, not the artificial hell that complements the authoritarian heaven. We have discovered real hell, the annihilation of the planet. We must now make the complementary discovery, real heaven, the beautification and appreciation of the whole universe.

Physics is capable of opening the door to this heaven with the same scientific method and certainty as it opened the door to hell.

I think global peace requires global security, and that requires global theology. The only theology that can be acceptable to all is that which cannot be otherwise, that which corresponds to both logic and observation.

A global theology must be scientific. It must be possible to write is down and communicate it in unambiguous terms. The foundation of our scientific effort is physics. No worker in any field can do much until there is a reliable physics in place to provide a foundation for the interpretation of all her measurements and observations.

My naive program is to stimulate a scientific search for heaven. I think I have found one or two steps along the way, but I am far from certain. I have never had the time or the resources to become an expert in any of the matters covered in these lectures.

There seems to me to be an uncertainty principle operating in human knowledge. The quantum of understanding as the total amount of experience and understanding available to a single person in a single lifetime. This is the measure of how much one can live. How one uses this measure of life depends on all sorts of things like opportunity and temperament. One may expend it on action or contemplation, or a mixture of these. One may spend a contemplative life specializing in one thing, or ranging far and wide. The specialist will penetrate deeply on a narrow front. His or her security comes from an exhaustive understanding of a particular matter, be it raising children or interpreting ancient near eastern scripts or the propagation of tiger lilies.

The generalist will find security by reconnoitering a great area, but at a low level of resolution. Specialisation and generalisation are complementary variables, like energy and time, or momentum and space.

I have covered a lot of territory to find these ideas. Overall, I feel safe with them, but the details are hazy. It is my hope that the coherence of the whole may inspire you to expand this story with what you know.

If my hunch is right, we can make it wide enough and deep enough to provide ourselves with a single understanding of the universe in which we find ourselves. This understanding will be the foundation for a global communication channel which will guarantee peace on earth.

A high hope but a necessary one. If we do not hope we will despair, and if we despair, we may take the life of the planet in our act of suicide. This would be to destroy a beautiful thing. It will be no great loss to the universe. There must be billions of planets like ours. But it will be a big loss to us.

August 1987


Click on the "Amazon" link to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Ford, David, The Modern Theologians : An Introduction to Christian Theology in the Twentieth Century , Blackwell 1997 Preface: 'The main aim of this volume is to introduce the theology of most leading twentieth-century Christian theologians and movements in theology. ... The contributors are mostly based in Europe of North America and come from a wide range of institutions, denominational backgrounds, and coutries. Most are themselves constructively engaged in modern theology, and their purpose has been to produce a scholarly account of their subject and also carry further the theological dialogue in each case."">Amazon  back
Jackson, Roger, Buddhist Theology: Critical reflections by contemporary Buddhist ScholarsRichmond, Curzon Press 1999 Jacket: 'This volume is the expression of a new development in the academic study of Buddhism: scholars of Buddhism, themselves Buddhist, who seek to apply the critical tools of the academy to reassess the truth and transformative value of their tradition in its relevance to the modern world.'  Amazon  back
Medcalf, Peter, War in the Shadows: Bougainville 1944-45, Collins 1986 Jacket: '... written by an Australian infantryman who, as a nineteen year old, fought in the bloody campaigns on Bougainville, tells the dramatic truth about jungle warfare in the south-west Pacific during the second world war from the point of view of the combat soldier.'  Amazon  back
Noble, David F, The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, Penguin Books 1999 Introduction: 'It is the aim of this book to demonstrate that the present enchantment with things technological ... is rooted in religious myths and ancient imaginings. Althought today's technologists, in their sober pursuit of utility, power and profit, seem to set society's standard for rationality ... their true inspiration lies elsewhere, in an enduring, other-worldly quest for transcendence and salvation.'   Amazon  back
Ranke-Heinemann, Uta, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: The Catholic Church and Sexuality, Penguin Books 1991 Jacket: 'This survey of the Church's attitude to sexuality is nothing if not fair ... A formidable book, being a relentless polemic backed by neormous erudition. The only ecclesiastical response to it that seems to me possible is a bull declaring that women have no souls.' Anthony Burgess in the Observer  Amazon  back
Reynolds, Vernon, 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.'  Amazon  back
Walker, Geoffrey de Q, The Rule of Law: Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, Melbourne University Press 1988 Jacket: 'The author argues that the survival of any useful rule of law model is currently threatened by distortions in the adjudication process, by perversion of law enforcement (by fabrication of evidence and other means), by the excessive production of new legislation with its degrading effect on long-term legal certainty and on long-standing safeguards, and by legal theories that are hostile to the very concept of rule of law. In practice these trends have produced a great number of legal failures from which we must learn.'  Amazon  back


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