The Great Divide
Most people in the Western world, consciously or unconsciously, fluctuate between two polar orientations toward life—a religious vs. a secular outlook, which is driven by people’s perceptions of modern science. On the extreme ends, religion tends to be close-minded and promotes an “us and them” mentality. Secular extremes promote a kind of smug, elitist intolerance that sees religion as the last refuge of the Neanderthals.
In this series of articles we will address a third paradigm, a spirituality compatible with the advanced new sciences.
Both religion and science are two branches of human endeavor that deal with the most basic questions of our existence—who we are, where did we come from, why are we here, and what is the nature of the world in which we live? Philosophy too deals with these questions, but philosophy is really a bridge or a by-product of these two more fundamental pillars of inquiry into the human condition. The thing is, a sharp divide appears to exist in the way religion and science study and approach these questions so that the average person has to choose between which is the correct view.
Religion Versus Science
How do you believe that life started? How is it maintained? Was it all caused by random particle interactions that somehow created increasingly complex organisms and ultimately led to life? Or, do you believe that life originated through the actions of a deity? Perhaps you simply just don’t know and belong to vast gray area of those who chose to ignore the tough questions and just forge ahead with life. But any way you cut it, your basic conscious or subconscious convictions about these matters influence the quality of your personal life and the character of our cultures, institutions, nations, and human conditions.
The belief that life is pure random chance as traditional science says has led to a certain secular, existentialist outlook of how you live and conduct yourself. It might cause conscious or subconscious feelings of futility and fear, both of which have consequences for physical and psychological wellbeing. Of course, believing in God doesn’t necessarily immunize you from problems, and people can certainly hold distorted, fearful notions of God. Misguided religious zealots often cause far more damage than morally responsible atheists. So, how can we proceed to a better understanding of life?
Ironically, fear is the common denominator between secularism and religion as practiced in the Western world. It is the fear of not truly knowing at a gut level that we are part of a continuing whole as opposed to separated, transient specks that might permanently blip out of existence at any time. Fear and religion are commonly equated, but fear and science? Realize that one characteristic of traditional science is that it analyzes parts like the physicians who specialize in hearts, eyes, and bones rather than looking at the body as an integrated whole. This approach is fragmented and it promotes a fragmented, fearful view of life limited to what the five senses can detect, and the five senses cannot detect very much.
But a way does exist to transcend the limitations of secular science and traditional religion. It has to do with the practice of acquiring a particular type of knowledge and experience that puts you in contact with a higher intelligence. Such an experience gives you a certainty that you exist within a larger framework than the visible, material world. It opens you to receiving information to help you perceive new patterns in the fabric of life. Such knowledge can guide you to evolve physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It can help you become independent of the beliefs and dogmas of others because it is not based on faith but personal experience. The basis of this knowledge has support in both the new sciences and recovered ancient spiritual traditions. This is a Third Way, a spiritual path supported by quantum science leading to realms beyond the limitations of materialistic science and traditional religion.
In the next article, we’ll discuss the foundations of traditional religion and traditional science leading to the revelation of a new paradigm for viewing life.