Saturday, June 11, 2011


Is there a purposefulness in evolution?  Could terms like "intelligent" and "creative" apply to evolution?

I recently learned of Amit Goswami and began reading his book "The Visionary Window - A Quantum Physicist's Guide to Enlightenment."

His initial basic point (as best I can summarize it) is that western science looks at the universe and all life in it as built up from objects with no consciousness, providing no explanation of where consciousness comes from, while eastern thought sees consciousness as the starting point for all being, with physical objects manifested from the universal consciousness. In other words, consciousness is the ground of all being; it is not the byproduct of a physical object like the brain.

Evolution was the topic that prompted this blog post, which is mostly a quotation from "The Visionary Window". I have always felt intuitively that there is some kind of creative and directing force in the evolution of life on earth, and that the astonishingly precise adaptations of living creatures to vastly different environments cannot be explained by mere chance. Despite the denials by Darwinists, I feel there is some kind of purposeful direction toward a goal involved, as in the flounder whose eyes migrate to one side of its head, or water creatures who develop lights because they live where no light can penetrate.

Goswami writes:

Science finds that "We are insignificant on the cosmic scale. . . . From [the initial creation by the Big Bang], the evolution of galaxies, star systems, planets, and life are all seen as the play of chance statistical fluctuation.

"Does the esoteric ontology -- conscious as the ground of all being -- offer a resolution of cosmologies as well? . . A number of coincidences in cosmology suggest that the universe evolves toward the manifestation of life and sentience . . .

"The gaps in the fossil record suggested to quite a few biologists that Darwinism is not the complete story of evolution . . . Creationism also does not make complete sense; though the Christian contention that God intervenes in the affairs of the world, even in biological evolution, to align the world with purposiveness, is credible in a science within consciousness. . . . But in science within consciousness, we can look at the fossil gaps as the signature of creative conscious intervention -- purpose enters evolution creatively."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Should laws governing social behavior be considered religion?

Here's how I arrived at this question: Having become distanced from Protestant beliefs by the time I was seventeen years old, I had a powerful insight that all existence was the manifestation of a mysterious spiritual Source. "Spirit" underlay all that we perceived.

That realization led me to a mystical attitude toward whatever it is we call "God". Rather than in the Bible, I found help in the Upanishads and other Vedantic writings, in Taoism, in the reports of mystics in all religions. For me religion became a matter of personal awakening and enlightenment aimed at comprehending more about our spiritual Source and living in harmony with it. I retained a strong sense of justice and fairness but it was unrelated to religious teachings.

When I said to my college philosophy professor, "I think it was a mistake when religion became equated with morality", he agreed.

A lawgiving God, particularly as described in the Old Testament of the Bible, will dispense rewards and punishments depending on how His laws are obeyed or disobeyed. When I look at the much-vaunted monotheistic religions, most of what I see mostly rules of social behavior, and mostly in the form of what not to do.

A person's behavior toward other beings is of course significant in forming that person's spiritual condition, but it is misguided to consider a system of social rules as "religion". The purportedly divine laws often emphasize restrictions on sexual behavior --masturbation, fornication, adultery, homosexuality -- but much more is included, such as laws concerning food and drink. In some Protestantism even a sip of beer considered almost fatal, dancing is prohibited, gambling is a sin (not just unwise), and even playing cards on a Sunday is a punishable offense. It is not a big jump from there to the Jewish tradition that even flipping a light switch on the Sabbath is a violation of Jehovah's law against working on that day.

The most famous set of supposedly God-given laws is probably the "Ten Commandments", presented as the foundation of Judaism and its offspring, Christianity. Those laws pertain almost entirely to human social conduct, although in the first commandment Jehovah talks about having brought the Jews out of Egypt (a myth rather than an actual event) and tells them to have no other god before him. This is essentially an ancient tribal god saying, "Don't put any of those other tribes' gods above me!" In the same vein is the prohibition against making images -- i.e. idols representing Jehovah's competitor gods. But most of the commandments are a code of interaction among humans, the likes of which could be drawn up by any committee of intelligent and well-meaning people.

I therefore suggest that the concept of religion is degraded when it is reduced to a set of laws, and that the concept of God is degraded by depicting the deity as greatly concerned with humans' sex lives, diet, and work schedules.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Here are three more photographs taken by Arthur Mather on his walks near Edinburgh.  Please leave your opinion in a Comment.

Click on a picture to enlarge.

Ghostly Figures

Untitled.  Look closely to see Arthur's dog beyond the strange light.

Mystery Glow

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My good friend Arthur Mather took this photograph while walking in the woods near his home outside Edinburgh, Scotland.  I haven't been able to guess what the light is, and Arthur suggested that I post the picture on this blog.  There are more, but I'll post them separately.  Be sure to click on the picture to enlarge it.

Please click under this column to post a Comment.  Thank you.

Flying Light

Saturday, September 4, 2010


'Origen did not, like many of his contemporaries, degrade the body to the status of an unwanted encrustation imprisoning the soul; for him, the body is a necessary principle of limitation, providing each soul with a unique identity. This is an important point for an understanding of Origen’s epistemology, which is based upon the idea that God educates each soul according to its inherent abilities, and that the abilities of each soul will determine the manner of its knowledge. We may say, then, that the uniqueness of the soul’s body is an image of its uniqueness of mind.'

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosopy, "Origen of Alexandria"

I have written about the body being a form of insulation (not Origen's word) necessary to give the soul individuality and focus by shutting out perceptions which would otherwise overwhelm it.  I postulated that in a schizophrenic person this insulation has failed to some extent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The urge to pray seems instinctive in most humans. As an attempt to communicate with a being higher and more powerful than oneself, prayer generally devolves into requests for help and favors intermingled with flattering thanks designed to wheedle future gifts  -- as a small child would beg a parent.  That is certainly the way I was exposed to it in the United States.

I've written before about the evident uselessness of such begging prayers as far as their bringing special help from the Divine is concerned.  I certainly cannot say that some kind of godly intervention never occurs as a result of a cry for help, but observation shows that most prayer requests are not granted. The pleasing results of those which seem to be granted may be explained more by chance, or by a focus of the individual's visualization and desire and belief, than to action by a deity.

Nevertheless, I have a persistent inclination to pray, to find some means of communication with the higher power or powers I sense exist and have helped and guided me.  As I struggled one night with the question of how to pray, it came to me that prayer should consist of a receptive state rather than talk aimed at a beneficent deity.  In other words, prayer should consist of listening rather than speaking.

Relax, eyes closed, with a listening and watchfully waiting attitude. Signal in some way that a prayer has begun. What follows is like meditation, in which one discourages the inner word-stream and tries to make the mind clear, perhaps using attention to one's breathing to drive mundane thoughts away. Concentrate on the dark screen before your eyes, watching expectantly for something to appear and be alert to anything resembling inspiration or thoughts coming from a higher source.

You are tuned to receive.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Taking Dictation from God

One of Protestant Christianity's basic tenets -- at least among the more fundamentalist sects -- is that the Bible is the "word of God" and therefore all true, the ultimate authority on everything.

I ask myself increasingly what is the authority for that assertion. Having been dunked in the Southern Baptist church as a child, I was shown pictures of ancient men sitting at tables with pens in their hands while beams of light entered their heads from above. These were the Bible writers, obedient secretaries receiving dictation directly from God . . . of which every syllable was true. But I do not recall ever being told who said that the Bible was the infallible "Word of God", nor do I recall anything in the Bible itself which asserted that it was all written by God.

Considering how filled with contradictions and inconsistencies the Bible is, it seems that the Roman Catholic Church was very wise in not encouraging its believers to read it.  By unleashing hordes of the generally unintelligent to read and interpret the Old and New Testaments for themselves, Protestantism deserved what it got -- a multitude of sects claiming to give the correct interpretation of a collection of writings which can only be considered, if not schizophrenic, fragmented with inconsistencies and outright contradictions.

Years ago I thought that by now the Christian churches would have dried up for the most part, but based on what I hear around me, and on what we read, the traditionalist churches remain a powerful force in the United States, not only ideologically but also politically. And the main pillar of their existence is that the Bible is all true.

This makes me feel about as comfortable as I would if one of those wild-eyed street preachers who scream at imaginary crowds on corners had been elected Governor on a platform of education reform.