Written by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith, 2011
Yes, BUT until we could explain our seemingly-‘unGodly’, ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted HUMAN CONDITION all we could cope with was an abstract, deity-in-the-clouds version of ‘God’!
The impasse has been that until we could explain our divisive, competitive, selfish and aggressive condition we couldn’t afford to demystify ‘God’ and admit the truth that ‘God’ is our personification of the Negative-Entropy-driven, ordering, integrative, cooperative, selfless and loving theme or purpose or meaning of existence! Yes, we couldn’t very well confront ‘God’ while we couldn’t explain why we have seemingly been so ‘unGodly’!
MOST WONDERFULLY, however, biology is now finally able to provide the dreamed-of, exonerating, ‘’-reconciling, ‘burden-of-guilt’-lifting, psychologically rehabilitating explanation of our divisive condition–thus making it safe to answer the questions ‘Is there a God, is God real and what is God?’ by demystifying ‘God’ as Integrative Meaning. (And it should be mentioned that this explanation of our species’ deeply psychologically troubled, competitive, selfish and aggressive condition is not the psychosis-avoiding, trivialising, dishonest account of it that the biologist E.O. Wilson has put forward in his theory of Eusociality, but the psychosis-addressing-and-solving, real explanation of it.)
Before presenting the all-important, reconciling, psychologically rehabilitating and thus human-race-transforming, real explanation of the , the following of ‘God’ makes it very clear why it hasn’t been possible–until now–to end the mystery of ‘Is there a God?’, ‘Is God real?’ and ‘What is God?’
|William Blake’s Ancient of Days|
The world’s greatest physicists, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, have said, respectively, that ‘The overwhelming impression is of order…[in] the universe’ (‘The Time of His Life’, Gregory Benford, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Apr. 2002), and that ‘behind everything is an order’ (Einstein Revealed, pbs, 1997). Yes, this ‘order’ is apparent everywhere. Over the eons a chaotic universe organised itself into stars, planets and galaxies. Here on Earth, atoms became ordered or integrated to form molecules → which in turn integrated to form compounds → virus-like organisms → single-celled organisms → multicellular organisms → and then societies of multicellular organisms. Overall, what is happening on Earth is that matter is becoming ordered into larger wholes. So the theme or purpose or meaning of existence is the ordering or integration or complexification of matter, a process that is driven by the physical law of Negative Entropy. ‘Holism’, which the dictionary defines as ‘the tendency in nature to form wholes’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th edn, 1964), and ‘teleology’, which is defined as ‘the belief that purpose and design are a part of nature’ (Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, 1998), are both terms that recognise this integrative ‘tendency’.
however, the great problem with this truth of the integrative is that for a larger whole to form and hold together the parts of that whole must consider the welfare of the whole above their own welfare–put simply, selfishness is divisive or disintegrative while selflessness is integrative. So consider-others-above-yourself, altruistic, is the underlying theme of existence. It’s the glue that holds the world together and what we really mean by the term ‘love’. Indeed, if we consider religious terminology, the old Christian word for love was ‘caritas’, which means charity or giving or selflessness; see Col. 3:14, 1 Cor. 13:1–13, 10:24, and John 15:13. Of these biblical references, Colossians 3:14 perfectly summarises the integrative significance of love: ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ In John 15:13 we also see that Christ emphasised the unconditionally selfless significance of the word ‘love’ when he said, ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ but admitting and accepting this truth of the integrative cooperative, unconditionally selfless, loving meaning of existence left humans feeling unbearably condemned as bad, evil or unworthy for our divisive competitive, selfish and aggressive, seemingly-unloving behaviour. only when we could truthfully explain the good reason why we humans have not been ideally behaved–truthfully explain our species’ seemingly-highly-imperfect condition, which fortunately we now can–would it be psychologically safe to confront, admit and accept that the meaning of life is to be integrative, cooperative, selfless and loving.
To make the connection between this truth about the meaning of life and the question ‘What is God?’, more of what Hawking and Einstein said on the subject needs to be included because we will see that the concept of ‘God’ is actually our personification of this truth of Integrative Meaning. Hawking: ‘The overwhelming impression is of order. The more we discover about the universe, the more we find that it is governed by rational laws. If one liked, one could say that this order was the work of God. Einstein thought so…We could call order by the name of God’ (‘The Time of His Life’, Gregory Benford, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Apr. 2002); and, ‘I would use the term God as the embodiment of the laws of physics’ (Master of the Universe, bbc, 1989). Einstein: ‘over time, I have come to realise that behind everything is an order that we glimpse only indirectly [because it’s unbearably confronting/condemning!]. This is religiousness. In this sense, I am a religious man’ (Einstein Revealed, pbs, 1997). Since we can now understand that unconditional selflessness or ‘love’ is an aspect of this ordering, Godly theme of existence, then the Biblical reference ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8, 16) is an accurate answer to the question ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘What is God?’ Yes, regardless of the various names of God used by the different faiths, the most central of the attributes of God is that God is love. And we can now also understand that monotheism, the belief that there is only one God, or the idea of the ‘oneness’ of God, was correct–the integrative theme or meaning to existence, or ‘God’, is the one all-dominating and all-pervading universal truth about our world. So in terms of the questions ‘Is there a God?’, ‘What is God?’ and ‘Is God real?’, ‘God’ is Integrative Meaning!
So, in being competitive, selfish and aggressive–in fact, so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and brutal that human life has become all but unbearable and we have nearly destroyed our own planet–we humans were apparently out-of-step with ‘the work of God’, at odds with ‘God’, and therefore seemingly not just bad and worthless, but defiling, guilty, sinful and even evil beings!! No wonder we needed the concept of ‘God’ to remain safely abstract and undefined–that we have been, as we say, ‘God-fearing’–in fact, God-revering to the point of being God-worshipping–not God-confronting. As the philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev has written, ‘Man’s fear of God is his fear of himself, of the yawning abyss of non-being in his own nature’ (The Destiny of Man, 1931, tr. N. Duddington, 1960, p.41).
It is very apparent then why it hasn’t been possible, until now, to scientifically end the mystery of is there a God–we haven’t been able to face the answer! The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung was referring to the terrifying subject of our seemingly-‘unGodly’ condition when he wrote that ‘When it [our shadow] appears…it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil’ (Aion in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9/2, p.10). Yes, the ‘face of absolute evil’ is the ‘shattering’ possibility–if we allowed our minds to think about it–that we humans might indeed be a terrible mistake!
When the scientist-philosopher Teilhard de Chardin wrote, ‘I can see a direction and a line of progress for life, a line and a direction which are in fact so well marked that I am convinced their reality will be universally admitted by the science of tomorrow’ (The Phenomenon of Man, 1938, p.142), he was recognising firstly how obvious the truth of the integrative, order-of-matter-developing theme of existence really is; and, secondly, that this truth of the integrative ‘direction’ or theme or purpose or meaning of existence wouldn’t be able to be ‘admitted’ until the human-condition-resolved ‘science of tomorrow’ emerged, which relievingly it now has, thus allowing us to answer the question ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘Is God real?’ ‘Yesterday’s’ scientists avoided the overarching, truthful whole view of the integrative meaning of existence and the issue of our less-than-ideal, ‘fallen’ or corrupted condition it raised and instead adopted a reduced view that only focused down on to the details about the mechanisms of the workings of our world–they have been what’s called ‘reductionist’ and ‘mechanistic’, not ‘teleological’ and ‘holistic’–and the contrivance they developed to avoid the truth of Integrative Meaning was to assert that there is no direction or meaning to existence and that change is random. Furthermore, to avoid religion’s acknowledgement of Integrative Meaning (albeit an indirect and abstract acknowledgement in the form of the concept of ‘God’) ‘yesterday’s’ scientists claimed that religion and science were two totally unrelated realms–to the point that E.O. Wilson has said, ‘I take a very strong stance against the mingling of religion and science’ (National Geographic Magazine, May 2006). Of course, as the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Charles H. Townes truthfully admitted, ‘they [religion and science] both represent man’s efforts to understand his universe and must ultimately be dealing with the same substance. As we understand more in each realm, the two must grow together…converge they must’ (‘The Convergence of Science and Religion’, Zygon, Vol.1 No.3, 1966).
So it is only now that our divisive condition has been truthfully explained that de Chardin’s integrative-‘direction’-or-theme-or-purpose-or-meaning-acknowledging ‘science of tomorrow’ can emerge, thus allowing us to answer such questions as ‘Is there a God?, ‘Is God real? and ‘What is God?’ And it is also only now that the integrative ideals and our lack of compliance with them can be reconciled and religion and science ‘converge’. Science has finally enabled us to find proof of God! Furthermore, finding understanding of our less-than-ideally-behaved condition is the crucial insight we needed to psychologically rehabilitate the human race. Carl Jung was forever saying that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he recognised that only finding understanding of our dark side could end our underlying insecurity about our fundamental goodness and worth as humans and, in so doing, make us ‘whole’. Yes, it is only now that we can truthfully explain the human condition that we can understand and thus heal that divisive competitive, selfish and aggressive, seemingly-‘unGodly’ condition. And yes, this reconciling truthful explanation of our ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted condition that is about to be presented at last allows us to understand that while we may have appeared ‘unGodly’, that was actually not the case, which means that, in a full or greater sense, ‘God’ is compassionate–that ‘God is good’; in fact, ‘God is great’; that our ‘faith in God’, especially in the ‘grace of God’, that ‘God loves you’, was justified! As we are going to see, the plea ‘God help me’ is now finally able to be satisfied by a full explanation, understanding and appreciation of what ‘the love of God’ actually is. So many of our recognised aspects of ‘God’ are now at last able to be understood. Overall, our ability to understand that God is Integrative Meaning means we can now end the mystery of ‘What is God?’ and ‘Is God real?’!