natural theology

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volume II: Synopsis

section V: Applied Divinity

page 41: Metanoia

We identify two key features of humanity which enable us to work toward a more heavenly Earth: cooperation and flexibility. Of these, the most important is flexibility, since flexibility is the foundation of cooperation: we usually need to change our minds a bit to fit into a cooperative unit, eg becoming willing to do the dishes. The ancient religions have put their faith in eternal truth. A modern religion must be more concerned with the dynamics of mind, determining the fixed points in the world not by fiat, but by shared experience. Intelligence - Wikipedia, Brouwer fixed point theorem - Wikipedia, Cummins; The Evolution of Mind

Metanoia is Greek for changing ones mind, learning new things, learning a new outlook. The practical conclusion of this project is that we maximize human entropy, headroom, grace, freedom and survivability by learning to communicate, cooperate and share more effectively. The religious attitudes of small communities contain the element of 'us' and 'them' which lies at the root of religious war. In a global religious picture, there is no absolute us and them, we are all of one flesh with the divine Universe, all in this together. Metanoia - Wikipedia, Mind - Wikipedia

The guardians of tradition tell us that too much flexibility is dangerous: that way anarchy lies. Here we find the role of theology. Our flexibility is not purely gratuitous, it is the key to the enormous success of the human species. It enables us to change ourselves to fit into a changing environment. However, like many a dead bacterium, we have multiplied and increased our consumption so fast that our environment is becoming uninhabitable. The time has come to use our flexibility to steer away from this catastrophe.

Our flexibility will not lead us to trouble if we tie ourselves to the Universe. In other words we use our flexibility to learn to base our stability on the stability of our environment. If nothing else, the Sun will support life on Earth for many billions of years to come, even if that life does not include our descendants. The stability of the Universe is the foundation for all our engineering and technology and our own existence. A divine Universe is a much more reliable God than the capricious personalities of theological history. Sun - Wikipedia, Miles

In any survey we judge our accuracy by closure. We have gone in a circle, coming back to our starting point. How closely do our readings and calculations reflect that facts? We began here from a feeling, a state of being that said that there has got be be a better way to do theology. If nothing else, the prevalence of religious war over the entire period of recorded history suggests that there is a dire need for a theological unification. Theology - Wikipedia, Armstrong

We began this unification with a scientific article of faith: if we study something that is one and whole, our conclusions should reflect its unity and wholeness. We agree with the monotheists that there is only one God. There can therefore be only one theology. Further, we can (with flexible method, a winding road) arrive at this one theology because we are all looking at the same God. Scientific method - Wikipedia, Fortun & Bernstein

The ancient religions imply that we cannot do this. God reveals himself to us only through his prophets. We cannot look for ourselves. As it turns out, when we read the prophets, most of them sound like old men trying to maintain some sort of status quo. Most of them are preaching holy war against something or other. Prophets from different traditions are inclined to discount the truth of other prophetic utterances. Often they are not talking about the one God, but their own problems. Prophet - Wikipedia

We have defined personal religion as everything that a person learns after birth. Personal religion is very much influenced by public religion, the collective learning of a community. Let us no longer be deceived by old fogglies, dead or alive. Let us get together and learn anew how to live and love in peace with our world. This needs to be a critical (error tolerant and error resistant) process, taking every point of view into consideration wherever we need to formulate a common path.

We look for a change of heart away from ancient politically motivated idealism into real scientific theology. We may see ancient texts as ancient history looking at our modern God face to face. We must recognize that God is not hidden, but here, for us all to see and agree on. In this site, we try to give an account of the Universe which removes any doubt that it is divine, and so return theology to the scientific fold.

The ancients, beginning in recorded history with Parmenides, imagined God as eternal, immobile, immutable and invisible. Aquinas, following Aristotle, defined God as pure activity, yet maintained that God was also eternal. The Catholic Church has emphasized eternity to the exclusion of activity because its core business is to project itself as the only channel of communication between God and humanity. It models itself on the eternal God, declaring itself immutable, infallible, with total authority over the whole of humanity. John Palmer - Parmenides, Aquinas 13

But the unmoved mover is not necessarily immobile. Here, we have moved toward the dynamic picture of God imagined by Aquinas. By exploring current science, we here conclude that the Universe is pure activity, and therefore fittingly called God. It has taken me forty years to get my head around this idea, and it will take the Earth a lot longer, but it seems to me to be a worthwhile and necessary change of mind. Unmoved mover - Wikipedia, Aquinas 113, Infallibility - First Vatican Council

(revised 28 May 2013)

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Further reading


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.' 
Budziszewski, J , Written on the Heart : The Case for Natural Law, Intervarsity Press 1997 Written on the Heart expounds the work of the leading architects of theory on natural law, including Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and John Locke. It also takes up contemporary philosophy, running against the tide of pluralism that abhors natural law.  
Cummins, Denise Dellarosa, and Colin Allen (editors), The Evolution of Mind, Oxford University Press 1998 Introduction: 'This book is an interdisciplinary endeavour, a collection of essays by ethologists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers united in the common goal of explaining cognition. . . . the chief challenge is to make evolutionary psychology into an experimental science. Several of the chapters in this volume describe experimental techniques and results consistent with this aim; our hope and intention is that they lead by example in the development of evolutionary psychology from the realm of speculation to that of established research program' 
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 countries. 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.'  
Fortun, Mike, and Herbert J Bernstein, Muddling Through: Pursuing Science and Truths in the Twenty-First Century, Counterpoint 1998 Amazon editorial review: 'Does science discover truths or create them? Does dioxin cause cancer or not? Is corporate-sponsored research valid or not? Although these questions reflect the way we're used to thinking, maybe they're not the best way to approach science and its place in our culture. Physicist Herbert J. Bernstein and science historian Mike Fortun, both of the Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS), suggest a third way of seeing, beyond taking one side or another, in Muddling Through: Pursuing Science and Truths in the 21st Century. While they deal with weighty issues and encourage us to completely rethink our beliefs about science and truth, they do so with such grace and humor that we follow with ease discussions of toxic-waste disposal, the Human Genome Project, and retooling our language to better fit the way science is actually done.' 
Lonergan, Bernard J F, Method in Theology, University of Toronto Press for Lonergan Research Institute 1996 Introduction: 'A theology mediates between a cultural matrix and the signifcance and role of religion in that matrix. ... When the classicist notion of culture prevails, theology is conceived as a permanent achievement, and then one discourses on its nature. When culture is conceived empirically, theology is known to be an ongoing process, and then one writes on its method. Method ... is a framework for collaborative creativity.' 
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.' 
Aquinas 113 Summa I, 18, 3: Is life properly attributed to God? Life is in the highest degree properly in God. In proof of which it must be considered that since a thing is said to live in so far as it operates of itself and not as moved by another, the more perfectly this power is found in anything, the more perfect is the life of that thing. ... back
Aquinas 13 Summa: I 2 3: Whether God exists? I answer that the existence of God can be proved in five ways. The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. . . . The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. . . . The third way is taken from possibility and necessity . . . The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. . . . The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. back
Brouwer fixed point theorem - Wikipedia Brouwer fixed point theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Brouwer's fixed-point theorem is a fixed-point theorem in topology, named after Luitzen Brouwer. It states that for any continuous function f with certain properties there is a point x0 such that f(x0) = x0. The simplest form of Brouwer's theorem is for continuous functions f from a disk D to itself. A more general form is for continuous functions from a convex compact subset K of Euclidean space to itself. back
Infallibility - First Vatican Council The Latin Text of Denzinger: Enchiridion Symbolorum, Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum Denzinger 3074: 'Romanum Pontificem, cum ex cathedra loquitur, id est, cum omnium Christianorum pastoris et doctoris munere fungens pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab universa Ecclesia tenendam definit, per assistentiam divinam ipsi in beato Petro promissam, ea infallibilitate pollere, qua divinus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam in definienda doctrina de fide vel moribus instructam esse voluit; ideoque eiusmodi Romani Pontificis definitiones ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae, irreformabiles esse.' back
Infallibility - First Vatican Council The English Text of Definition of Infallibility 'we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable..' back
Intelligence - Wikipedia Intelligence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Intelligence derives from the Latin verb intelligere which derives from inter-legere meaning to "pick out" or discern. A form of this verb, intellectus, became the medieval technical term for understanding, and a translation for the Greek philosophical term nous. This term was however strongly linked to the metaphysical and cosmological theories of teleological scholasticism, including theories of the immortality of the soul, and the concept of the Active Intellect (also known as the Active Intelligence). This entire approach to the study of nature was strongly rejected by the early modern philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and David Hume, all of whom preferred the word "understanding" in their English philosophical works. Hobbes for example, in his Latin De Corpore, used "intellectus intelligit" (translated in the English version as "the understanding understandeth") as a typical example of a logical absurdity.[4] The term "intelligence" has therefore become less common in English language philosophy, but it has later been taken up (without the scholastic theories which it once implied) in more contemporary psychology.' back
John Palmer - Parmenides Parmenides (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) First published Fri Feb 8, 2008 'Parmenides of Elea, active in the earlier part of the 5th c. BCE., authored a difficult metaphysical poem that has earned him a reputation as early Greek philosophy's most profound and challenging thinker. His philosophical stance has typically been understood as at once extremely paradoxical and yet crucial for the broader development of Greek natural philosophy and metaphysics. He has been seen as a metaphysical monist (of one stripe or another) who so challenged the naïve cosmological theories of his predecessors that his major successors among the Presocratics were all driven to develop more sophisticated physical theories in response to his arguments.' back
Metanoia - Wikipedia Metanoia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Metanoia (from the Greek μετάνοια, metanoia, changing one's mind) in the context of theological discussion, where it is used often, is usually interpreted to mean repentance. However, some people[citation needed] argue that the word should be interpreted more literally to denote changing one's mind, in the sense of embracing thoughts beyond its present limitations or thought patterns (an interpretation which is compatible with the denotative meaning of repentance but replaces its negative connotation with a positive one, focusing on the superior state being approached rather than the inferior prior state being departed from).' back
Mind - Wikipedia Mind - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent thought. Common attributes of mind include perception, reason, imagination, memory, emotion, attention, and a capacity for communication. A rich set of unconscious processes are also included in many modern characterizations of mind. Theories of mind and its function are numerous. Earliest recorded speculations are from the likes of Zoroaster, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient Greek, Indian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers. Pre-modern understandings of the mind, such as the neoplatonic "nous" saw it as an aspect of the soul, in the sense of being both divine and immortal, linking human thinking with the un-changing ordering principle of the cosmos itself.' back
Prophet - Wikipedia Prophet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people.' back
Scientific method - Wikipedia Scientific method - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses." back
Sun - Wikipedia Sun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields. . . . The Sun was formed about 4.57 billion years ago when a hydrogen molecular cloud collapsed. . . . The Sun does not have enough mass to explode as a supernova. Instead, in about 5 billion years, it will enter a red giant phase, its outer layers expanding as the hydrogen fuel in the core is consumed and the core contracts and heats up.' back
Theology - Wikipedia Theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity"; Richard Hooker defined "theology" in English as "the science of things divine". The term can, however, be used for a variety of different disciplines or forms of discourse. Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument (philosophical, ethnographic, historical, spiritual and others) to help understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote any of myriad religious topics.' back
Unmoved mover - Wikipedia Unmoved mover - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The unmoved mover (ού κινούμενον κινεῖ oú kinoúmenon kineῖ) is a philosophical concept described by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" is not moved by any prior action. In Book 12 (Greek "Λ") of his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: itself contemplating. He equates this concept also with the Active Intellect. This Aristotelian concept had its roots in cosmological speculations of the earliest Greek "Pre-Socratic" philosophers and became highly influential and widely drawn upon in medieval philosophy and theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, elaborated on the Unmoved Mover in the quinque viae.' back is maintained by The Theology Company Proprietary Limited ACN 097 887 075 ABN 74 097 887 075 Copyright 2000-2018 © Jeffrey Nicholls