The Unification of Religion, Science and Philosophy
All of humankinds myriad diverged lines of inquiry in science, theology and philosophy are really asking after the same mystery and all the separate puzzles are really different aspects of the same puzzle. So that one answer contains all the answers and one key unlocks all the doors. The ultimate truth that a persons real identity is God is also the necessary assumption that allows for the solving of the greatest mysteries of the ages and will enable the final unification of Religion, Science and Philosophy.
This section describes how all of human knowledge may one day be formed into a unified whole. Currently the knowledge of humankind is in a fragmented state of being divided into areas of science, philosophy and religion. In turn, these separate fields are themselves further sub-divided into a bewildering number of various specializations, schools of thought and conflicting doctrines. The intention is to show how it is that all these myriad disparate parts and seemingly irreconcilable ideas can actually be unified into a cohesive picture of who we are, the nature of life, the universe and God. But what this section is essentially about is the schism between science and religion. For even though in present times philosophy is usually a specialization thought separate from science and religion, there is however still a lot of overlap between philosophy and science and also between philosophy and religion. The same can't be said for the relationship between science and religion today. So later we will be showing how it is that indeed science and religion do integrate into a coherent whole. We'll describe how it is that the destiny of science is to become sacred and how key discoveries in science help us to better understand some timeless mystical truths.
In antiquity there didn't really exist the separation between the fields of knowledge that we find today. The different specializations of science, philosophy and theology didn't really exist in the same compartmentalized form that characterizes humankind's pursuit of understanding in the modern age. So for instance the philosopher Plato would readily delve into religious issues and someone like the great sage Pythagoras though best known for his mathematical theorem was also a philosopher and explored the nature of the Universe. Indeed he is even thought to have coined the words 'philosopher' and 'cosmos' in the first place and was even revered as a religious figure in his own lifetime. So there certainly wasn't an incompatibility between religion and science that is evident today. Though not all people in the past were religious and there were certainly more than a few thinkers of the ancient world who totally rejected spiritual notions, it was however back then much easier to be religious, philosophical and scientific without any apparent contradiction.
Later on in history during the renaissance we find in the figure of Francis Bacon the total integration of the scientific, the philosophical and religious. Though helping to lay the groundwork for the empirical sciences he was none the less a mystic, Rosicrucian and Freemason. He once said 'I take all knowledge to be my province'. Other great thinkers who were living around this time and slightly after, such as Galileo and Copernicus though contributing greatly to the early advancement of science nonetheless remained devoutly religious. Even Isaac Newton who succeeded in integrating all the scientific knowledge that preceded him into a coherent mathematical framework spent more time thinking about spiritual and religious matters than he did about science. We now know that he had a keen interest in the Kabbalah, alchemy and prophesies. For him his science was not something that replaced God, rather an investigation into the logical beauty of creation. In his view the Universe was like an intricately crafted mechanism that still needed a supernatural entity to put it into motion.
However around the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century a split started to occur between science and religion. During this period influential thinkers were advocating reason as the best means for establishing an authoritative system of ethics and aesthetics. Furthermore reason and science were put forward as the only means by which humans could gain understanding of the Universe and existence. It was an intellectual movement that sought to irradicate
irrationality, superstition and tyranny. Inevitably it would come to undermine religion and begin the process of secularization or the falling away from religion. This decline of religion was further accelerated by the publication of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. If Newtonian mechanics seemed to explain the heavens then Darwin's ideas seemed to explain the emergence of all the living things on the Earth, apparently doing away with the need for a creator God in the process.
In more contemporary times we find a situation where many but by no means all scientists are antagonistic to religion and the idea of God. There are some notable exceptions, for instance Albert Einstein who talked about a sense of the mystical as the source of all true art and science. He also said that 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind'. However without a more detailed definition concerning the exact relationship between science and religion his statements didn't really mean very much for most scientists. It probably didn't mean very much for a lot of religious people either. More recently the celebrated cosmologist Stephen Hawking even sought to eliminate God as the primary cause of existence in the first place, seeming to explain away the idea of a point in time at which the Universe began. And in the life sciences the widely read evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins energetically champions the ideas of Charles Darwin, whilst at the same time also zealously promoting a materialistic and atheistic viewpoint.
On the other side of the fence we also witness today among many religious people and especially those of a fundamentalist persuasion, a real antagonism towards many areas of science. In particular in relation to the idea of evolution, genetic research and also with respect to theories concerning the origins of the Universe and of the Earth. To these people the rise and power of Scientific Rationalism is closely associated with Secular Humanism. Therefore it is seen as a threatening and undermining thing, something to be resisted and argued against.
So given the divisions between science and religion, and also to a lesser extent those between these two areas of knowledge and the study of philosophy, what hope do we have if any for a future unification of human understanding? Is it possible that the Secular Humanist may one day be reconciled with Religious Fundamentalist and will the Scientist and Spiritualist ever find common ground? The answer to these questions is yes, indeed there is a way by which science, religion and philosophy may be unified. Furthermore through this unification of all human understanding we are given the means and the opportunity for bringing together the opposing factions in world society consisting of the secular and scientific versus the religious and theological. But then how may all this come about?
The key to the unification of science, religion and philosophy lies in the uncovering of the central truth that lies behind all World religion. It is a truth that forms the mystical heart of all the World's faith traditions and it is also a truth that recent results from science have been pointing towards and indirectly supporting. It is also a truth that helps us to unravel fundamental questions in philosophy concerning the nature of existence. What then is this truth? In what ways does science converge upon this truth? And how exactly does it help our understanding of philosophical matters? We will now be exploring these issues in turn.
Everyone is God
It will come across as a shock to many people and also seem like an unbelievable idea but the truth that lies at the heart of all World religion is the notion that a person's real identity is ultimately God. God is given many different names. In Hinduism God is called Brahman, in Christianity God is the Logos or the Christ, in Judaism God is YHWH, in Islam God is Allah and in Buddhism the equivalent term is the Void. However in all these great World faiths, when we explore deeply into their history and esoteric traditions then we discover a recurring theme. And this is the idea that our real nature is really that which is called generically God. Sometimes things are not as they seem and who we think we are turns out to be but a pale and faint reflection of who we really are. This is the realization when a person experiences himself or herself as God. This has really been the defining experience which has been the hidden wellspring and mystical heart of World religion. It is also the final destination of the spiritual path and the ultimate purpose to life. The idea that everyone is God and also the assertion that it is the truth behind all World religion is explored more in depth in two other sections of this website which are titled 'Everyone is God' and 'Everyone is God is the truth behind World religion' respectively. In this section I'll really be focusing on how the notion that everyone is God provides for us the key to reconciling science with religion thereby enabling their unification. So now we'll be discussing recent results and ideas from science that point towards esoteric truths and lend support to the idea that everyone is God.
Science becomes mystical
Earlier in this section we discussed how through the course of the history of ideas, there occurred a schism between science and religion. We'll now show that the process has come full circle and how it is that recent discoveries in science are challenging existing assumptions. In particular results from the realm of quantum physics are challenging existing assumptions and are confirming mystical ideas from the world of religion that have existed for thousands of years. For instance the 'ghostly' and indefinite nature of the subatomic world have forced us to reconsider our ideas about the nature of reality. To sum up the situation the celebrated physicist John Wheeler, who worked with Albert Einstein, said that according to quantum mechanics 'There's no out there out there!'. This is really a statement about the illusory nature of reality, which is referred to as Maya in Hinduism and Sanyatta in Buddhism.
Also from the world of quantum physics we find the idea of entanglement and non-locality. This is the process whereby two sub atomic particles existing in the same point in space and time will become coupled to one another in such a way that they become like one entity. So much so that even when these two particles are separated by great distances, even if they were subsequently positioned at opposite ends of the Universe, then these two particles will still be able to affect each other instantaneously. It is as if there was no longer any space separating the two particles hence the expression non-locality. For if the idea of space and separation became meaningless then so does the idea that something can be local. Counter-intuitive though this seems, it is none the less an experimentally verified fact about the nature of the Universe. As strange as this may seem what is stranger still is the result, derived from quantum physics, which states that the entire Universe and everything in it is likewise entangled and therefore consists of a single unified 'oneness'. In this way science is converging towards timeless ideas from religion concerning the oneness of all things and the oneness of God. It is interesting to note that the terms 'God' and the 'all' that is the Universe are often used interchangeably in religious scriptures. Now, this idea of God's oneness is perhaps the central tenet of the so called monotheistic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and also Zoroastrianism. But the oneness of God is attested to in other religions and is really a universal truth behind all the World's great faith traditions. For example in the premiere Hindu holy text the Bhagavad Gita we find the passage, 'The Super Soul[i.e. God within us] appears divided but has never divided and is always situated as one'. This is certainly a direct assertion of the oneness of God.
We'll now show how the ideas from quantum physics just related, help us to understand the notion that Everyone is God. If we examine religion closely then we come across the universal idea of the God within, i.e. the Christ within, Krishna within, Buddha within and in Islam God is described as 'closer to you than your jugular vein'. A related idea is the description of God as the 'all that is in all', as is said in the Bible several times. A similar passage in the Bhagavad Gita describes how 'the man of vision sees all beings within himself and sees himself within all beings'. What these statements and passages are pointing towards is the experience that many people have had all through history of becoming one with God or one with the Universe. It is the experience that in the past has caused people to claim that they are God and/or that everyone is God. However it is a notion that is so counter-intuitive and so difficult to grasp that as a result it has always been rejected by the masses and only accepted by a small minority. But in the present age the spectacular discoveries of quantum physics allow us to finally see the truth behind the assertion that everyone is God. Firstly some of these discoveries are strongly suggestive of the illusory nature of reality as discussed earlier. So things are not as they seem, this in itself frees us to consider other possibilities concerning the nature of existence and the nature of who we really are. Secondly the results from quantum physics which tell us about the unity and inseparability of all existence, allow us to see the validity of the claims that people have made about being one with God or one with the Universe. Seen in this light, what all these people have done is to experience the oneness that quantum physics is telling us is the true nature of things anyway. Therefore according to these remarkable results from quantum physics we may assume the following; the experience of being one with God or being one with the Universe, far from being a delusion, is really to see through what is really illusory i.e. physical reality and to perceive what actually is i.e. an all encompassing oneness that may be called God.
So we are seeing then how the cutting edge of science is confirming timeless mystical truths that exist at the heart of all the World's great faith traditions. I have given a few examples but this is really the tip of the iceberg. Also I believe that this is a trend which is set to continue whereby we may expect to see in the future a continuing and progressive convergence between science and religion. What I am not talking about is the substantiation through science of those aspects of religion which cause sensible people to abandon organized religion in droves, i.e. the rules, the rituals, regulations the fairy tales and fantasies. These are the so called outer mysteries of religion and comprise what comes to mind to most people when they think about religion. Instead I am talking about the inner mysteries, the esoteric hidden truths and the mystical heart that exists within all the World's great religions. Within these inner mysteries we discover a constellation of beliefs that are common to the esoteric core of all the World's great faiths. For example the belief in the state of union with God and the associated idea that God is within us. Also as discussed earlier is the recurring idea of the unity of God, the oneness of all things and the oneness of all people. It is these inner mysteries that science is confirming and vice versa it is these inner truths of religion which may help us to understand and integrate some of these discoveries happening at the forefront of humankind's quest for knowledge.
Everyone is God in relation to philosophy.
We have just been discussing how the truth behind World religion, that everyone is God, provides a common ground that provides for us an opportunity to bring together and to start the process of unifying science and religion. This is because certain key discoveries in quantum mechanics are converging upon ancient mystical ideas that exist at the heart of the World's religions. These are ideas concerning the illusory nature of reality, the inseparable oneness of all existence and the oneness of God. We saw how recent discoveries in science are supporting these notions and also pointing towards the idea that everyone is God. We'll now be discussing how we can also use these insights to answer the two most fundamental questions in all of philosophy. These are firstly the question of ontology or what is the nature of existence? And also secondly the question of epistemology or the issue of how do we know the things that we think we know? In fact all philosophy reduces to ontology and epistemology so to provide answers for these questions really tantamount to solving the greatest puzzles of existence.
We start by examining the question of ontology or the nature of existence. The Ontology debate breaks down into two opposing viewpoints. The first is called Materialism which supposes that the nature of existence is based on matter. The second is called Idealism which is the belief that all existence is really consciousness. It is the position of Idealism that is convergent with ideas from the world of religion and mysticism. When we consider the question of what is consciousness then we find parallels with descriptions of God's attributes. For instance God is universally described as immanent and within us, in all the World's great faiths. This was expanded upon earlier. So correspondingly we can say that consciousness is immanent and within us. Also God is universally described as transcendent , that is independent of and beyond the realm of matter. So in the same way consciousness is also transcendent and somehow above and separate from the material world. This is what materialist philosophers and neuroscientists have been discovering in their frustrated attempts to explain consciousness. No matter how hard they try, they cannot reduce consciousness to neurophysiology and brain functioning. They never stop to think that perhaps their entire working assumption is wrong, that instead of consciousness reducing to a physical brain, it is more the case that the entire physical universe reduces to consciousness. In fact it can be unequivocally shown that what on the one hand philosophers and scientists call the mystery of the nature of consciousness, and on the other what theologians and mystics call the mystery of the nature of God, are really one and the same. They are two mysteries that are the same mystery and two puzzles that are really two different aspects of the same puzzle. I explain how this is the case in a section of this website called 'The nature of reality'. Basically the nature of all reality is consciousness and all consciousness is really one consciousness which may properly be called God.
The ultimate resolution of the questions of epistemology and its final conclusion really depends on a more complete understanding of the brain and mind. In another section of this website I describe the remarkable parallels between on the one hand,what we know about brain structure and process and on the other hand, ancient mystical ideas found in the World's religions. This correspondence between what is of concern to brain scientists and more broad religious matters is suggested by the passage from the mystical Hindu holy texts called the Upanishad. Here it is stated that 'As the human mind so is the cosmic mind'. So in the section of this website called 'The brain and mind sciences', I explores these parallels more in depth. So there is not only a convergence between the philosophical question of ontology, i.e. what is the nature of existence, and corresponding ideas from science and religion; there is also a coming together of ideas relating to epistemology from the mind and brain sciences, with spiritual and cosmological ideas. So in other words not only does a deeper understanding of the brain shed light on the question of epistemology, which concerns the nature of knowledge and how we know what we know, but there is also a deep relationship between epistemology and mystical/spiritual truths about the nature of God.
The diagram above represents the juncture where religion meets science and philosophy. At this intersection between the different great demarcations of human knowledge is to be found some of the last great mysteries of the Universe, i.e. how the brain works, the nature of mind and the mystery of consciousness. When it is understood that the mystery of the nature of consciousness and the mystery of the nature of God are one and the same mystery, then we start to grasp also the relationship between the divine on the one hand and on the other, questions relating to the brain and mind. It is said that 'As is the human mind, so is the Cosmic mind, and as is the microcosm so is the macrocosm.' This is an ancient statement corresponding to a more modern insight that the process of mind is the process of God. Furthurmore it reflects the idea that the structure and workings of the human brain are a microcosmic reflection of the structure and workings of the Universe. In this way we may extrapolate from how the brain works to how the Universe works, and vice versa, we can also interpolate from how the Universe works to how the brain works. We discover that in the ancient mystical traditions of the World, the Cosmos is described to be ultimately organized as an all encompassing Universal tree. This is the Asvatha tree of the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism and Yggdrasil in Norse Paganism. Also in mystical Judaism we find the Cosmic tree of the Sepphiroth. And so it is that all the structures of the brain at all scales of consideration are structured as trees. Furthurmore so it is with the structures of our mind in that all our knowledge is likewise arranged as in a tree. In present times many scientists are coming round to the idea that the ultimate basis and foundation of physical existence is information. In the not too distant future it will also be commonly realized that the information upon which the material World has its ground of being is structured as knowledge, and that this knowledge is structured as a tree. In this way the Universe is a cosmic brain. It is also a nested hierarchy that contains brains within brains, minds within minds and consciousness within consciousness. All of this enclosed within this cosmic brain, the cosmic mind and the cosmic consciousness, but at the same time reducing to the all pervading, all pervasive eternal transmigration of the irreducible one consciousness, that we all share, that is you, that is me, that is us, that is God.