vol 11: Policy
Religion is applied theology, and the principal outputs of religion are policies guiding thought and behaviour.
Natural theology respects the creative nature of ourselves and our Universe and so places no constraint on thought, which is not observable. Being scientific, natural theology will eventually home in on how the Universe really works, and its application through religion will probably move us toward harmony with our natural divine environment.
When we are working (as opposed to playing) we generally act with some purpose in mind. Now, after nearly 70 years of life, I have the settled ambition of developing and propagating a religious outlook which, given time and development (perhaps centuries), will underwrite peace on earth and the conditions for human survival at least till the Sun dies.
My starting point was the religion of my birth, Roman Catholicism. Catholicism promises an eternity of bliss in Heaven to all those who obey its commands. Quite early in life, I saw that the Church has no way fo fulfill this promise. Now I see it as a ploy to capitalize on our natural fear of death to gain political control over us.
The key to survival is cooperation. The power of cooperation is so great that it will often prevail no matter how inefficient and violent the means of obtaining it. The key to cooperation is a common pool of knowledge, a shared picture of what we are trying to achieve and how to go about it.
If we are to survive and be happy in the world, we must share knowledge of how it really works and how we fit in. Change, birth and death are real, and occur at all scales. To learn to deal with them, we must embrace science, which leads to tested and reliable knowledge. In particular, from a religious point of view, we must embrace scientific theology.
Using such a theology, we can explore the conditions for peaceful human survival. In general, this means designing the human layer of the cosmic network to achieve two ends: first that everybody has access to the resources for life without having to fight for them; and second, that in obtaining the resources for our lives we do not damage the Earth that supports us and our fellow creatures.
Here we use our theological insights to suggest some guidelines for human behaviour. In general, we need to guide our population, our consumption and our production into ways that are consistent with the life of the Earth. This means getting our energy from the Sun, recycling our materials, minimizing our footprint and maximizing the spiritual value of our activity.
(revised 3 March 2013)