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Epic of Evolution & Spiritual Contemplation

 There is no consensus over what constitutes a religion and being religious.The US Supreme Court has long struggled to create a working definition of religion that is both inclusive and effective at distinguishing secular from sacred. They have boiled it down to people who hold a “sincere and meaningful” belief which “occupies a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God.” Note: this does not say they must believe in a god, only that they have a spirituality about something and consider it sacred in some manner. 

 There are an estimated +10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religions. While the religiously unaffiliated and ‘spiritual but not religious’ have grown globally, many of them still have various religious beliefs. This movement away from traditional religions opens the door for a religious concept based on naturalism. 

 Traditional religions have core stories (a mythos), usually recorded in books like the Bible. It has been suggested that the Epic of Evolution may serve as the foundational narrative for religious belief. Certainly, most people probably sense a spirituality in Nature (how about you). Many see it as sacred. And, Nature was the source of many of the earliest gods. They were personified natural phenomena. 

  The Epic of Evolution is finally starting to finding its way into traditional religions.


 “Evolutionary versions of each religion - Evolutionary Christianity, Evolutionary Buddhism, Evolutionary Islam, Evolutionary Judaism, Evolutionary Hinduism, and more—are emerging. Why is this happening? Because adherents of each tradition have discovered the same thing: Religious insights and perspectives freed from the narrowness of their time and place of origin are more comprehensive and grounded in measurable reality than anyone could have possibly dreamed before. Evolution does not diminish religion; it expands its meaning and value globally”. - Michael Dowd  Evolutionary Christianity

Religious Naturalism 
a naturalistic worldview with religious trappings 

 Religious Naturalism themes have been present, in varied cultures, for centuries. But active discussion, with use of this name, is recent, coming into its own about 1990. A Religious Naturalist is one who has adopted the Epic as a core narrative and goes on to explore its religious potential, developing interpretive, spiritual, and moral/ethical responses to the story. Advocates are guided by the mindful understandings inherent in human traditions, including art, literature, and philosophy. 

 Religious naturalists use the term "religious" to refer to an attitude – of being appreciative of and interested in concerns that have long been parts of religions. These include a spiritual sense which may include a sense of mystery or wonder or feelings of reverence or awe for the power and beauty of the natural world and a sense of morality. This morality includes a strong eco-morality.

  “It remains to be seen whether religious naturalism might eventually replace traditional religious orientations, merely stimulate their radical self-transformation, or prove to be of little influence on religion and environmental practice”. - Loyal Rue 

Spiritual Naturalism 
a spiritual approach to the natural world
 
 The term appeared by at least 1895, but as a concept, it has been around for thousands of years. Spiritual Naturalists see the universe as one natural and sacred whole – as is the rationality and the science through which Nature is revealed. They advocate principles and practices that have compassion as a foundation and finds wisdom and inspiration in innumerable rich traditions and ethical philosophies from around the world. 

Pantheism 
a belief that all is God
 
 This is a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. There are multiple varieties of pantheism with some modern beliefs being strangely atheistic. However, some advocates describe pantheism as the polar opposite of atheism. Albert Einstein wrote, "We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul as it reveals itself in man and animal." Some have called it the classic religious alternative to theism. One philosopher has said that there may be more pantheists than theists worldwide. 

neo-Pantheism 
a proposed modern rendition of Pantheism

 This is a form of non-theistic mono-theism and a form of Religious Naturalism. It is mono-theistic in having a single god concept, non-theistic as the god concept is significantly different than the old traditional Abrahamic one. The difference is great enough that perhaps the title God does not apply. Perhaps we call it a god-like essence.  It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent essence which can be called god, or that the universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity. There is no belief in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god. 

 This essence is naturally a part of something; existing throughout and within something; inherent; integral; intrinsic; indwelling. It is not transcendent or supernatural but a mental construct of an individual finite mind.

  As it is an essence, it is the inherent nature of something or idea, the true nature of anything, not accidental or illusory, a being; especially, a purely spiritual entity, a concept of the mind. 

  To use a phrase used by Sarte (What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards) becomes - We are born, become aware and then we sense a god as we each are able to. Gods are nothing more than what we make them be. 

  For there to be an essence of God, there must first be an existence of some kind. In the domain of human knowledge and understanding, God cannot exist without us. And that’s the way it has always been. Nothing new here but the trappings. My God is existential being actual, factual, material, real, and provable. Also see - neo-Pantheism: A New Paradigm


Copy  me at IRAS_4.jpg
  Webmaster’s comment - this is my insertion of an idea I'm working on. This description may sound as vague as the supernatural God concept, except this one is based on sensing Reality which I can do, rather than something that is not something. 

  I am not alone in this belief. It does perhaps need better verbalization for those who do not understand what I mean. God is not Nature but the essence of Nature. In my opinion, the traditional God is not a factual essence. I think I agree with Sartre. His materialist and skeptical existentialism did not allow for a metaphysical essence and thought, there is only existence having attributes as essence.

On the other hand, is a thought, a concept, in one's mind, metaphysical?

 

  Deus est omnium rerum causa immanens, non vero transiens - God is the Immanent Cause of all things, never truly transcendent from them.........A definition, if it is to be called perfect, must explain the inmost essence of a thing, and must take care not to substitute for this any of its properties ......... by Natura naturans we must understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, or such attributes of substance as express an eternal and infinite essence, that is … God, insofar as he is considered as a free cause”. - Baruch Spinoza, considered one of the great rationalists of the 17th century 

  For Spinoza, natura naturans refers to the self-causing activity of nature, while natura naturata, meaning "nature natured", refers to nature considered as a passive product of an infinite causal chain. Spinoza believed that the proper approach to God is not one of reverence or religious awe, but instead one of scientific study and reason. A religious orientation would have opened him to the possibility of the errors and superstition of the traditional religions.

  “If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. - Albert Einstein 

  “I do not care what face other ages and other people have given to the enormous, faceless essence. They have crammed it with human virtues, with rewards and punishments, with certain ties. They have given a face to their hopes and fears, they have submitted their anarchy to a rhythm, they have found a higher justification by which to live and labor. They have fulfilled their duty. But today we have gone beyond these needs; we have shattered this particular mask of the Abyss; our God no longer fits under the old features”. - Nikos Kazantzakis